Preparations are at an advanced stage for the largest day in the parading calendar, with upwards of an estimated half-a-million people expected to participate or spectate in what is widely regarded as the largest annual festival in the Province.
As is tradition, Armagh will once again host the biggest Twelfth gathering ‘in the world’ as Orangemen and women from across the county congregate in the village of Richhill. The traditional sight and sound of Lambeg drums will add to the festivities.
A large Scottish contingent is expected in Belfast, as the city holds the longest Twelfth parade on the day, with participants walking over six miles to the field. Alongside Ballymena, the capital stages a Twelfth demonstration every year.
Other sizeable parades will take place in Lisbellaw (Fermanagh), Cookstown (Tyrone), Coleraine (Londonderry), Cloughfern (Antrim) and Banbridge (Down).
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Edward Stevenson, grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, hailed the enhanced cultural experience offered by the yearly celebrations.
“The Twelfth of July offers a unique opportunity for the Orange Institution and the bands community to showcase our culture and heritage, and we are confident of welcoming increasing numbers of visitors, tourists and families to all of our parades,” he said.
“Surely there is no other event on these islands that can bring such vast numbers of people onto the streets, either by taking part or simply to watch the music and pageantry.”
Mr Stevenson will attend the Cookstown demonstration.
He added: “Our proud cultural traditions will once again be on display, and equally apparent, at 18 venues throughout Northern Ireland. The Twelfth is truly a day like no other as we celebrate much that is important to the Reformed faith, our civil and religious liberties and our Protestant heritage.”
The Twelfth demonstrations will follow the traditional Rossnowlagh parade held in the Republic on the preceding weekend. This year the annual Donegal procession takes place on Saturday July 8.
The 18 demonstrations on Wednesday July 12 will be held in: Richhill; Belfast; Lisbellaw; Cookstown; Beragh; Clogher; Coleraine; Kilrea; Hillsborough; Bangor; Ballynahinch; Banbridge; Annalong; Cloughfern; Broughshane; Ballymena; Cullybackey and Cloughmills.