AN estimated 3,000 Orangemen and bandsmen will be in Ballycastle today to celebrate the 326th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.
The seaside town will also accommodate upwards of 4000 spectators who will be entertained by a mixture of accordion, pipe andflute bands and a number of Lambeg drums.
Lodges from the five districts of Cloughmills, Ballymoney, Rasharkin, Bushmills and Ballycastle who last met in Ballycastle five years ago, will make their way from the assembly point at Ramoan Road to the Quay Road Playing Fields where a religious service will take place.
The route to the field and back has avoided the mainly nationalist Altananam estate where protests have taken place in the past.
It is common knowledge that Ballycastle isn’t the most favoured venue for Orangemen but senior officials are hoping for a parade that will showcase the Order in its best light and have appealed for those taking part to uphold the dignity of the organisation.
The parade will welcome Orangemen from across the world including Canada and the United States. One band, the Stirling Protestant Boys Flute band, will join their Ulster colleagues but before travelling to the parade venue plan to lay a wreath at the Glebe Estate Memorial Arch which is dedicated to the 36th (Ulster) Division and Royal Irish Rifles.
Some bands across North Antrim have been struggling to maintain levels of membership and it has been reported that the Causeway Protestant Boys Flute band will fold after the Twelfth parade. Many are hoping, however, that this will not be the case since this band has upheld the fluting tradition in the Bushmills area for years.
One Orangemen felt that the Ballycastle parade would see a larger than usual turn out of brethren given the strong presence at the District parades held throughout the area on Sunday.
“The turn out in Ballymoney was particularly high,” he said.
Bonfires in towns and villages were lit on Monday night to celebrate the July marches.
Participants in the parade are asked to meet at Ramoan Road where the procession will start at 1 p.m. The return journey is 4 p.m. and completed by 5.30 p.m.
Meanwhile, members of the Independent Orange Order will meet in Portglenone for their annual demonstration in which ten bands will lead Lodges from across the province.
Some five hundred participants have been listed as taking part with the same number of spectators.
The parade will start at 1 p.m. from the Townhill Road to the Clady Road for the traditional speeches.