While the DUP won the most seats with 130, the party's 23.1 per cent share of the vote was down about 4 per cent on the last local election poll in 2011.
Sinn Fein came second in terms of seats with 105, but garnered the largest percentage of the overall vote.
The republican party's 24.1 per cent share of first preferences was down slightly on its 24.8 per cent in 2011.
The Ulster Unionists were the only one of the five main Stormont parties to increase its percentage, as smaller parties and independents scored some notable successes.
As well as the upswing in UUP fortunes, the drop in the DUP share of the vote was also due to a strong performance by the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party, which won 13 seats and 4.5 per cent of the vote - up from 2 per cent in 2011.
The planned two-day count drifted into three, with the Ormiston district of Belfast the last to declare in the early hours of Sunday.
Of the 462 seats on offer, the UUP won 88 , the SDLP 66 and the Alliance Party 32.
The number of councillors is being cut by more than 100 in a major restructuring.