Twelfth guide: Where and when are the parades - Orange Order prepares to step out for biggest day of marching season
As Portadown and Kilkeel achieve tourist flagship status for Twelfth celebrations, Economy Minister says he hopes the big day will attract a record amount of visitors
The Mourne Mountains and Portadown will provide the backdrop for the two flagship parades of this year's Twelfth of July celebrations.
As the centenary year for the Battle of the Somme, many taking part will honour soldiers who lost their lives in World War One by dressing in period costume.
The Orange Order is also encouraging spectators not to overindulge in alcohol this year, with an advertising campaign featuring the slogan: 'It's about the battle not the bottle.'
A total of 18 Orange Order parades will take place across Northern Ireland on Tuesday, July 12, as well as a separate event in Portglenone, Co Antrim, hosted by the Independent Loyal Orange Institution.
The flagship events are expected to pull in crowds of well over 10,000 people, as are parades in Belfast and Limavady in the north west.
Before the largest day on the marching calendar begins, this weekend will also involve two traditional parades: Rossnowlagh in Co Donegal tomorrow afternoon and at Drumcree Church in Co Armagh on Sunday morning.
Grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson has praised both Portadown and Kilkeel for achieving tourist flagship status.
He said: "The Twelfths in Portadown and Kilkeel promise to be special occasions, with huge crowds enjoying the spectacle in Co Armagh, and also the pageantry and colour of the day in south Down, amid the stunning backdrop of the Mourne Mountains."
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said he hoped this year's events would attract a record amount of tourists.
"Increasingly we are seeing more and more international visitors coming to Northern Ireland keen to experience the biggest day in the loyal orders' parading calendar on the Twelfth of July," he said.
Portadown district master Darryl Hewitt said: "We consider it a great honour to have been awarded flagship status.
"The Twelfth in Portadown will be the largest gathering anywhere in the world and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of Orangemen, Orangewomen, juniors, bandsmen and spectators to what we believe will be a truly memorable occasion." And Mourne district master Trevor McConnell said: "This flagship Twelfth will be particularly poignant as we remember and respect all the fallen of the Somme."
Among those in period costume in Belfast will be Lord Laird, who will be dressed in the uniform of the Royal Flying Corps.
He will be commemorating James Donnelly, lay chaplin of Royal York LOL 145, based at Clifton Street, Belfast.
Donnelly was one of the last members of the Royal Flying Corps to die, near the Somme on March 31, 1918. The next day the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to become the Royal Air Force.
One of this year's resolutions to be read out at each Twelfth event reflects on the sacrifices of the First World War: "As an Institution we take time this year to remember all those who gave their lives in the defence of freedom and democracy at the Battle of the Somme.
"As an Orange family we are mindful of the thousands of Orangemen and others who served King and Country during the 141 days of this epic struggle.
"We especially remember those Orangemen who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice on the first and second of July as part of the 36th Ulster Division."
The Orange Order will also congratulate the Queen on her 90th birthday.
Where and when...
In total 22 events will mark this year’s Twelfth celebrations.
Rossnowlagh in Co Donegal is first tomorrow, with the main parade leaving close to St John’s Parish Church at 12.30pm. On Sunday, the annual Drumcree parade begins in Portadown at 10.15am from Carleton Street Orange Hall, with the main speech from Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt.
On Tuesday July 12, the two flagship parades take place in Kilkeel and Portadown. The Portadown parade begins at 9.15am with host lodges leaving Carleton Street Orange Hall, joining the main parade in Edenderry at 10.15am towards the Armagh Road. Events in Kilkeel start at 9.30am from Kilkeel Orange Hall parading towards the demonstration field at Manse Road.
The Belfast parade begins at 10 am at Carlisle Circus, towards City Hall for a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph. At 10.40 the lodges march to Barnett Demesne for the main address at 2.45pm.
The other parades starting across Northern Ireland on Tuesday are; Maguiresbridge, 12.30pm: Killyshambley on the Tempo Road. Limavady, 12pm: Church Street towards Limavady Orange field. Castledawson, 12pm: Hill Road towards the Magherafelt Road. Coagh, 12.30pm: Assembly field on the Ruskey Road towards the Drumconvis Road. Newtownstewart, 12.30pm: Assembly field on Strabane Road to Miller’s Holm. Aughnacloy, 12.30pm: Caledon Road to Aughnacloy College, Donaghadee, 12pm: Warren Road to the Commons. Comber, 12.3pm: Parkway playing fields. Dromore, 12pm: Ballymacormick Road to Lurgan Road. Randalstown, 11 am: Shane Street towards Dunmore Park. Lisburn, 11.30am: Wallace Park towards Ballymacross Playing Fields. Ballymena, 12.30pm: Wakehurst Road towards People’s Park on the Doury Road. Glenarm, 12pm: Coast Road to field at Straitkelly Road. Ahoghill, 12.30pm: Galgorm Road to Village playing fields on the Cullybackey Road. Ballycastle, 1pm: Ramoan playing fields towards Quay Roa Playing Fields.
In Portglenone the Independepent Loyal Orange Institution host a separate parade, starting at 12.45pm on the Townhill Road. On Wednesday, July 13, the annual sham fight event at Scarva begins on the Banbridge Road at 11.15am.