At least 2,500 people are expected for the Apprentice Boys’ annual Shutting of the Gates commemorations in Londonderry tomorrow.
This year marks 328 years since 13 apprentices shut the city’s gates to the advancing Jacobite army on December 7, 1688 in one of the most pivotal acts in British and Irish history.
The commemorations kick off at midnight tonight with the symbolic firing of a cannon on the walls, followed by the traditional ‘Touching of the Gates’.
The main commemorations get underway from 11.30am tomorrow as visiting bands set off from Waterside Railway station and make their way to St Columb’s Cathedral after joining the main parade from around 1.15pm in the city centre.
A service of Thanksgiving will take place at St Columb’s Cathedral from 2pm before the parade reforms at 3pm at Bishop Street in the city centre.
An effigy of Lundy the Traitor will be burned at 4pm before visiting clubs make their way back to Waterside Railway Station.
Apprentice Boys Governor Jim Brownlee said: “We are never sure about numbers so let’s give a conservative estimate and say 2,500. We have 29 bands and in addition to the members of the association we will welcome members of the public coming along to spectate or to attend the service of thanksgiving at the cathedral.”
He said he hoped the event would provide a boost to traders: “It is a no-brainer – people will want to eat and, dare I say it, people will want to drink as well.
“Beyond sustenance, there will be opportunities to purchase goods in the local shops.”
Traffic and travel details issued by the PSNI are as follows:
29 Bands depart Duke Street, Craigavon Bridge, Carlisle Road, Hawkin Street, London Street, Bishop Street, and Society Street
Carlisle Road and City bound top deck will be closed for approximately 40 minutes
30 bands will leave Society Street, Bishop Street, The Diamond, Ferryquay Street, Carlisle Road, Carlisle Square, Wapping lane, Kennedy Place, Hawkin Street, London Street into the cathedral
The Diamond, Carlisle Road, and the Top Deck will be closed for approximately 40 minutes
30 bands will form up on Bishop Street, then London Street, Kennedy Place, Wapping Lane, Carlisle Road, Ferryquay Street, The Diamond, Bishop Street for the burning of the effigy.
The top deck and city centre area will be closed for approximately 45-60 minutes – when parade is in Bishop Street for the burning, traffic will be allowed to flow elsewhere in the city centre.
Parade returns to Duke Street via London Street, Kennedy Place, Wapping Lane Top Deck Craigavon Bridge and Duke Street
Top deck and Duke Street will be closed for a short time.