The outcome of the ballot broadly reflected that of the Assembly election, with the DUP and Sinn Féin also polling strongly, while the SDLP and UUP struggled.
Alliance emerged with 44 seats, up from their previous total of 30, and there were also gains for Sinn Féin whose total increased by 12 to 138.
The DUP returned 175 councillors - the largest overall number, but down on their 2005 figure.
Meanwhile the UUP, on 99 seats and SDLP, on 87 seats, both lost out. Their totals were down 16 and 14 respectively.
The TUV took six seats and the Greens won three, while the PUP has two seats and others have 28.
Alliance leader David Ford called the result "magnificent", adding that the party made gains in areas where it has previously not been represented for some time.
They also gained two seats on Castlereagh Borough Council, forcing the DUP to agree to a coalition pact with the UUP in a bid to retain control in the area.
"I am absolutely delighted with our results," Mr Ford said. We did so well on Castlereagh that the DUP do not now have a majority on the Council.
"Not only have we won an extra 14 council seats, we also very significantly increased our vote across Northern Ireland from the last Council election. We have won new seats on councils like Down, Craigavon and Ballymena where we were not previously represented for a period of time.
"This is our best local election result since 1981 in terms vote share. We now have more seats than the UUP and the SDLP in the greater Belfast area where half the population lives, and we continue to hold the balance of power in Belfast."
The outcome in Belfast was a snapshot of how results unfolded across the 26 councils.
The UUP, which used to dominate at City Hall, was reduced to three.
"I think we have to regroup, refocus, re-energise an reinvent ourselves," Bob Stoker from the party told UTV.
"We have to get back to what we are good at and that's representing people on the ground but we have to do it with clear policies and a clear strategy and a clear direction for the future."
Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin said their return of 16 seats - which makes them the largest party on Belfast council - shows the success of the power-sharing arrangement.
"I think people are up for the type of partnership which was bedded in during the last number of years and I think they want more partnership," he said.
"They know that ourselves and the DUP have in some areas have different issues but they also know that the type of power sharing that is there is good for the people and it gets things done."
The SDLP's representation in Belfast stayed at eight councillors, but the party admits it has not been a triumph.
"We have struggled in places and we have seen some great renewal in others," Conall McDevitt said.
"We have got lots of new councillors in 20s and early 30s joining our team and that's the good news. The bad news is some people probably have overstayed their welcome and the electorate have punished them for that."
Meanwhile Nigel Dodds of the DUP said their 15 Belfast seats reflects good results across the board in all the recent polls.
He said: "This means that we have an excellent team at Westminster level, Assembly level, at Europe as well as council level."
2011 Council Results Summary
| ||Party||2011 Seats||+/- Seats||2005 Seats (*)|
(*) Source: www.ark.ac.uk