Upwards of 17,000 members of the Royal Black Institution will be on parade at six locations across Northern Ireland, for the traditional ‘Last Saturday’ demonstrations, held this year on August 31.
Approximately 350 preceptories, most accompanied by bands, will take part in separate processions in Ballygowan, Ballymoney, Dungannon, Holywood, Garvagh and Seskinore.
Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson, who will attend the Ballymoney parade, said the Institution was looking forward to “another fantastic day of spectacle and pageantry”.
He said: “Our traditional ‘Last Saturday’ demonstrations are rightly regarded a flagship day in the annual parading season.
“We are expecting thousands of spectators to line the parade routes at the six different venues across Northern Ireland.
“Beautiful banners depicting Biblical scenes, talented musicians in the various bands, and of course our Sir Knights, bedecked in their Royal Black regalia – it all makes for a glorious display of culture on the streets of our beloved Province.”
Rev Anderson added: “I was mightily impressed by the huge crowds at this year’s Sham Fight in Scarva, and the number of spectators at the recent County Fermanagh demonstration in Brookeborough was also a great source of encouragement to me as Sovereign Grand Master.
“It’s clear from the wonderful level of support we receive at our parades, that the Royal Black Institution plays an important and cherished role in the lives of a great many people in Northern Ireland.
“I pray that each of our ‘Last Saturday’ parades will be enjoyable and memorable occasions for all involved, as we witness for the Reformed Christian Faith.
“I wish all Sir Knights and our supporters a peaceful day as we come together in Christian fellowship to celebrate our cultural heritage.”
The Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson, will be a special guest at the County Antrim demonstration in Ballymoney.
The leader of the Royal Black Institution will join with around 3,000 Sir Knights as they walk through what are sure to be packed streets in the busy Co Antrim town.
Up to 80 preceptories and around 75 bands will gather at the Agricultural Showgrounds. Leaving at 12.30pm, the main parade will travel via North Road, Model School Road, High Street, Main Street, Meetinghouse Street, Rodeing Foot and Garryduff Road, before arriving at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre and into the Riada Playing Fields for a religious service.
During the parade, there will be a short stoppage for an Act of Remembrance at the War Memorial on High Street where a wreath will be laid.
The platform proceedings will begin at 3pm, chaired by Roland Hill, Ballymoney Worshipful District Master. The service of worship will be conducted by Rev David McCarthy with guest speakers being Sovereign Grand Master Rev William Anderson and Rev John Noble, Deputy Imperial Grand Chaplain.
The return parade gets under way at 4.15pm.
Ballymoney last held a Last Saturday demonstration in 2013.
The village of Ballygowan in Co Down will host a Last Saturday demonstration for the first time in almost 40 years.
The last time the Co Down Grand Black Chapter descended on the village for its flagship event was 1980.
A total of 107 preceptories from 13 districts, accompanied by around 100 bands, will take to the streets of the Co Down village for this year’s parade, organised under the auspices of Saintfield Royal Black District Chapter No 12.
The districts represented will be Lower Iveagh, Lecale, Castlewellan, Newry, Banbridge, Rathfriland, Mourne, Largymore, Ballynahinch, Newtownards, Saintfield, Bangor and Comber.
The parade will number around 5,000 people in total.
Among the many preceptories stepping out will be the largest in the Institution, Elijah’s Chosen Few RBP 208 from Mourne District, with more than 250 members.
Around 11.15am, County Officers will leave Ballygowan Orange Hall to lay a wreath at the War Memorial on their way to the Assembly Field.
The main parade will commence at noon, leaving the Assembly field on the Ravara Road, joining the Saintfield Road, going through the village, and then making its way along the Belfast Road to the Demonstration Field.
Platform proceedings will get under way at 3pm, chaired by Colin Cunningham, County Grand Master. A service of worship will be conducted by Raymond Adams, Imperial/County Grand Chaplain. The preacher will be Robin Fairbairn, Saintfield District Chaplain.
The return parade will move off at 4pm.
The largest demonstration in Tyrone this year will take place in Dungannon.
Up to 60 preceptories, accompanied by a similar number of bands, will make up a procession expected to number around 5,000 people.
Five districts representing south and east Tyrone and north Armagh will take part – Aughnacloy, Killyman, East Tyrone, Primatial and Summerisland.
The main parade will move off at noon from Lord Northland Memorial Park and proceed via Park Lake Road, Moy Road, Ranfurly Road, Perry Street, Church Street, Market Square, Scotch Street, Lower Scotch Street, Railway Road, Milltown, Brooke Street, Wellington Road, Moy Road and Park Lake Road, returning to Lord Northland Memorial Park for a religious service.
The platform proceedings begin at 2.15pm under the chairmanship of Desmond Bloomer, Worshipful District Master of parade organisers, Killyman Royal Black District Chapter No 1. A service of worship will be conducted by Rev David Reid, who is also the preacher and principal speaker.
The last time Dungannon hosted a Last Saturday parade was 2013.
The City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter’s demonstration will be held this year in Holywood.
It is tradition for members of the Institution in the capital city to parade in various provincial towns and cities.
Approximately 50 preceptories, representing seven districts, will step out in Holywood, accompanied by as many as 30 bands.
A service of worship gets under way at 11am in Spafield Playing Fields, conducted by Alan McIntosh, City Grand Chaplain, under the chairmanship of the City Grand Master William Elliott.
The main parade will then move off at 11.45am from Spafield Playing Fields, taking in Belfast Road, High Street, Sullivan Place, Redburn Square, Hibernia Street, High Street, Church Road, Demesne Road, Downshire Road, High Street, Belfast Road, returning to Spafield Playing Fields.
The return parade moves off from Spafield Playing Fields at 4.15pm via Belfast Road, High Street, Bangor Road to the buses.
The City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter last held its Last Saturday demonstration in Holywood in 2002.
The County Londonderry demonstration will take place in Garvagh.
Hosted by local preceptory Star of Bethlehem RBP 504, the parade involves four districts – City of Londonderry, South Londonderry, Raphoe and organisers Coleraine.
A total of 32 preceptories will take to the streets, accompanied by around 28 bands, making a parade of upwards of 3,000 people.
The main parade leaves the Assembly Field at noon, travelling along Ballinameen Avenue, Kurin Road, Carhill Road and Main Street to its final destination of the Orange Fields.
The platform proceedings begin at 2pm, chaired by Rt Wor Sir Knt Hugh Stewart. The principal speakers are Rt Wor Sir Knt Alan Goody and Rev Robert Campbell. The service of worship will be conducted by Rev J J Andrews with the preacher being Rev John Martin.
The return procession leaves the Demonstration Field at 3.30pm.
The last time Garvagh hosted a Last Saturday parade was 1987.
A total of 23 preceptories will take part in the west Tyrone demonstration.
Accompanied by the same number of bands, a parade of around 1,500 people in total will make its way through the village of Seskinore.
Hosted by Seskinore RBP 304, the parade involves three districts – Omagh, Strabane and Castlederg.
The main parade will commence at 12.30pm and move along Moylagh Road, Main Street and Letfern Road to the Demonstration Field for a religious service conducted by Sir Knight David Moses.
The platform proceedings will be chaired by Stanley McFarland, Worshipful District Master of Omagh RBDC No 4.
The principal speaker is the Royal Black Institution’s Assistant Sovereign Grand Master William Baillie.
The last time Seskinore hosted a Last Saturday demonstration was in 2003.