THE loyal order marching season comes to a climax tomorrow (Saturday) with six major Royal Black institution demonstrations across the province.
Portadown, Tandragee and Markethill district preceptories do not appear at the ‘Last Saturday’ demonstrations - Scarva on July 13 is their traditional parade venue.
But more than a dozen Co Armagh bands will take part in the Banbridge (Co Down) and Dungannon (Co Tyrone) parades and in Dungannon tomorrow preceptories and bands from Summerisland district, which covers the Loughgall area,
They will include Edgarstown and Pride of the Birches accordion and Poyntzpass and Tullyvallen silver, who will be in Banbridge.
An estimated 40,000 will be on parade at the six demonstrations, comprising Sir Knights of the Institution and members of 365 bands.
The ‘Last Saturday’ demonstrations are considered the most dignified of the loyal order parades with most of Ulster’s top quality bands - flute, silver, accordion and pipe - taking part.
Preceptories from Scotland, England and the Republic’s border counties will be among the 400 preceptories.
The biggest demonstration will be in Banbridge where up to 8,000 members of the Royal Black Institution will be on parade.
A total of 112 preceptories and 110 bands from 13 districts will take part.
Districts represented will be Lower Iveagh, Lecale, Castlewellan, Newry, Banbridge, Rathfriland, Mourne, Largymore, Comber, Newtownards, Saintfield, Bangor and Ballynahinch.
A gathering of 50,000 spectators is expected for the parade, last held in Banbridge in 2000. The main procession begins at noon, taking in Banbridge town centre.
In Dungannon, 60 preceptories (4,000 members) and a similar number of bands will take part in the South Tyrone/West Armagh demonstration. The parade begins at noon in a route via Dungannon town centre.
Preceptories from counties Monaghan and Cavan and Fermanagh will join the Primatial (Armagh city), Summerisland (Loughgall), Killyman. Aughnacloy and East Tyrone districts.