Ukip leader Nigel Farage has declared his party will win parliamentary seats at the 2015 general election.
The eurosceptic also believes Ukip is on course to "cause an earthquake" by winning next year's European elections but insists the council elections are likely to be more important to his party.
Mr Farage expressed confidence his party would see hundreds more councillors elected and it will have more members than the Liberal Democrats within 18 months.
This would effectively bolster the party's support ahead of the 2015 general election but the Ukip leader also warned of smear campaigns in the months ahead, calling on members to provide "strong physical and moral support".
He said: "In a funny way, the council elections on that day are even more important to Ukip than the European elections themselves.
"This year we made a great breakthrough on May 2, getting 23% of the vote across the English counties and we now hold 227 council seats.
"I think we've got every opportunity on May 22 next year to win hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of council seats up and down this country and to build up the kind of clusters of support that we'll need to go on and win seats in the general election of 2015."
Addressing the Ukip party conference in London today, Mr Farage also criticised "the establishment" for trying to close down the debate on immigration and for suggesting anyone who discusses it is "bad and racist".
David Cameron's promise of an in/out EU referendum by 2017 was also suggested to be "a cynical tactic to kick the issue into the long grass" amid fears of an exodus of his voters to Ukip.
And in a direct appeal to disaffected Tories, he said the 2014 poll - unlike the general election - gave them a chance "to really express their view without worrying which lot get in to Downing Street".
Mr Farage said if "the establishment" takes on Ukip on the big issues, it will lose.
Immigration was "the biggest single issue facing this country", he said, and only exit from the European Union could prevent it placing further strain on schools, hospitals, housing and wages.
Hundreds of thousands could arrive in the UK from Romania and Bulgaria when transitional free movement restrictions on the new EU members are lifted in January, he predicted, attracted by the right to benefits worth far more than at home.
Mr Farage also warned of an "even darker side to the opening of the door" - pointing to what he said was already a "Romanian crime wave" in London.