Orangemen marching to Richhill for big Twelfth parade
The normally sleepy Co Armagh village of Richhill is set to come to life in a spectacular fashion as it holds one of the biggest Twelfth gatherings in the world.
The Orange Order has announced its 18 venues across Northern Ireland for this summer’s Twelfth of July demonstrations.
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.
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 city stages a Twelfth demonstration every year.
Other sizeable parades will take place in Lisbellaw (Fermanagh), Cookstown (Tyrone), Coleraine (Londonderry), Cloughfern (Antrim) and Banbridge (Down).
The remaining locations include Beragh (Tyrone), Clogher (Fermanagh), Kilrea (Londonderry), Bangor (Down), Ballynahinch (Down), Annalong (Down), Hillsborough (Down), Broughshane (Antrim), Cloughmills (Antrim), Cullybackey (Antrim),
The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, 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, who will attend the Cookstown demonstration, added: “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.
Meanwhile, the Independent Loyal Orange Institution will hold its Twelfth demonstration in Rasharkin this summer.
DUP MLA Mervyn Storey will be among brethren taking part in the parade which will assemble on Finvoy Road at 1pm before processing through the north Antrim village to demonstration field on Church Road. The Imperial Grand Master Rt Wor Bro James Anderson will be among those who address brethren and visitors from the platform.