Five ‘Last Saturday’ demonstrations represent the climax the loyal order marching season, with 30,000 Royal Black Institution and band members providing a highly-colourful spectacle.
Contingents from the Republic’s border counties, as well as from Scotland and England, will join 360 preceptories in Kilkeel, Newtownstewart, Lisburn, Banbridge and Portstewart,
The ‘Last Saturday’ parades attract huge crowds and, with good weather anticipated, spectator numbers could potentially hit record levels.
The biggest parade will be in Kilkeel with 107 preceptories from 13 districts.
Mourne District, having the largest membership in Co Down – with Kilkeel’s Elijah’s Chosen Few RBP 208 boasting 276 members – hosts the 10,000-strong parade.
It starts on Newcastle Road close to Leestone Road at 11.30am with the two-mile route winding into Kilkeel town centre to the demonstration field at Manse Road.
The return parade is at 4pm, taking a similar route to dispersal points at Newcastle Road and Mountain Road.
A service will be led by Mourne chaplain the Rev Kenneth Hanna and the address given by Mourne Presbyterian Church minister the Rev William Bingham.
Upwards of 100 bands will lead the preceptories from Lower Iveagh, Lecale, Castlewellan, Newry, Ballynahinch, Rathfriland, Mourne, Largymore, Comber, Saintfield, Newtownards and Bangor districts.
In Newtownstewart, 84 preceptories and bands from Tyrone and Armagh join in a twin-county demonstration.
The noon parade begins at Baronscourt Road, proceeding to the field at Castle Brae.
The main speaker will be the Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr.
The parade marks the 150th anniversary of Co Tyrone Black Chapter, and districts involved are Strabane, Omagh, Castlederg, Killyman, East Tyrone, Aughnacloy, Primatial City (Armagh) and Summerisland (Loughgall).
Co Antrim’s demonstration involves 79 preceptories and 75 bands from six districts – Lisburn, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Larne. Antrim and Ballyclare.
The parade begins at 12.30pm, moving through the city centre to Wallace Park. Proceedings will be chaired by Edward Carson, Lisburn District Master, with a service conducted by Rev Robert Campbell, Co Antrim chaplain.
Belfast Black Chapter will be in the Co Down town with 59 preceptories and 33 bands, with a number from Scotland.
A service will precede the parade, with preceptories and bands moving from Church Street at noon for a town centre route.
In the coastal town, 32 preceptories and bands from Coleraine, South Derry, Londonderry City and Raphoe districts will parade.
The noon parade leaves Strand Road for Warren Park.
Proceedings will be chaired by David Hay, Londonderry Grand Master and a service conducted by Rev Joseph Andrews.
Three resolutions will be moved at the five Royal Black demonstrations:
Faith – pledging adherence to the Protestant reformed faith;
Loyalty – to the Queen;
Constitution – affirming commitment to the principles and structures of UK democracy.
The Royal Black Institution says it is “a Christ-centred and Bible-based organisation” and it calls upon the Sir Knights of the Institution to remain committed to the teaching of the Bible.
“We further encourage all Sir Knights to promote in their homes and communities the message of hope and peace that is found through trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation”.
On loyalty, the Institution praises the Queen for “her wonderful example of commitment and service” in a difficult world.
On constitution, the Institution says that it is encouraged that the UK remains unchanged.
“We call on all our supporters and governments to ensure the union of our four great countries continues to strengthen and flourish, for the benefit of all of our people,” it says.