Bessbrook will host a flagship tourist Twelfth demonstration later this year, the Orange Institution has announced.
Upwards of 15,000 spectators are expected to converge on the south Armagh ‘model village’ and enjoy the colour and pageantry associated with the biggest day in the Orange calendar.
Organisers will also offer a varied programme of events in the lead up to the Twelfth, including a pipe band tattoo, fancy dress parade and fireworks display.
Bessbrook is the largest of a total of 18 demonstrations being held across Northern Ireland, as the 325th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne celebrations take place this year on Monday, July 13. This will follow the traditional Rossnowlagh parade held in the Republic on the preceding Saturday.
Congratulating Bessbrook on achieving flagship status, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said preparations were now at an advanced stage for the summer event.
He said: “I, myself, personally look forward to attending the Twelfth of July festivities in Bessbrook and parading in the county recognised as the birthplace of Orangeism. The County Armagh demonstration is traditionally the largest demonstration which takes place in Northern Ireland, and this year will be no exception with thousands of participants, spectators, and many tourists, enjoying the carnival atmosphere.
“Flagship status places a great onus on the organisers of a particular Twelfth and I have every confidence that the officers and members of Bessbrook District will provide a fantastic event and wish them well in their planning.”
Grand Lodge Director of Services, Dr David Hume, said: “Bessbrook will be a worthy ambassador as a Twelfth tourist flagship and we are delighted that they will be working closely with us this year to ensure a very successful event.
“It is particularly appropriate that our flagship parade in 2015 is in County Armagh, as we open our Museum of Orange Heritage museums in Loughgall, and in Belfast. County Armagh is where the first Orange warrants were signed and it is also the 325th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, so a landmark in more than one sense is reflected in this decision to award flagship status.”
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell said: “I welcome today’s announcement by the Grand Orange Lodge that Bessbrook is to have flagship status this year. The flagship concept allows parades to broaden their appeal and draw a wider tourism audience. As the largest demonstration on the day, Bessbrook’s flagship parade will draw huge crowds to county Armagh to enjoy the event.
“The Twelfth attracts visitors from far and near who come to enjoy the colour and pageantry of the parades; and I wish the Grand Orange Lodge every success with its preparations in the weeks and months ahead.”
The 18 demonstrations on Monday, July 13, will be held in:
A Twelfth demonstration will be held in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, on Saturday, July 11.