Ballymoney played host to its best ever Twelfth of July demonstration, according to senior figures in the district.

Thousands lined the streets as the 324th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne was celebrated in in family-friendly style with more than 40 lodges, bands and the distinctive sound of the Lambeg drums in attendance.

STANDING ROOM ONLY. The packed streets in Ballymoney on Saturday as thousands gathered for the 12th demonstration.INBM29-14 018SC.

STANDING ROOM ONLY. The packed streets in Ballymoney on Saturday as thousands gathered for the 12th demonstration.INBM29-14 018SC.

The town was awash with bunting, flags and regalia and many of the spectators added to the occasion with colourful clothing signifying their allegiance to Crown and Country.

The organisers expected a bumper crowd but the turn out exceeded all expectations prompting visiting guest speaker, Henry Dunbar, the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, to pronounce that his first ever Twelfth in Ballymoney had been a real eye-opener.

“I am extremely impressed by the turn out, the quality of the bands and the enthusiasm of the spectators. It is a pleasure to be here,” Bro. Dunbar told the Times.

The Mayor of Ballymoney, Alderman Bill Kennedy and the District Lay Chaplain of Ballymoney, Bro. Colin Henry, stressed they were not exaggerating when they said the turn-out was the best ever, a view echoed by many of the participants.

“Ballymoney could well be described as the parading capital of Northern Ireland and as far as the North Antrim combine is concerned, there is no better venue,” the Mayor said.

The parade started and finished at The Showgrounds but while participants got round most of the route including the six-minute stoppage in support of their brethren in Belfast, the heavens opened in the final stages leaving those without umbrellas or capes, soaked to the skin.

Perhaps concerned that the rain could damage the Lambeg drums, one exponent took to playing the instrument in the back of a van leading the Lodge.

When the platform proceedings began hardly anyone was present to listen and it was only during the closing stages when the weather dried up that a crowd gathered.

There were visitors from across the world with one band from Stirling in Scotland in attendance.

In Bushmills, the district members gathered on their return from Ballymoney to register their protest at the Ardonye shops issue.

On the Eleventh night, scores of bonfires were lit around the North Antrim district and there were no reports of any disturbances.

However, criminal damage was caused to Ballycastle orange hall in the early hours of Saturday morning with graffiti painted on the walls.

Police are appealing to anyone who has information in relation to this incident to contact them in Ballycastle on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively, contact the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.