Shops in the centre of Belfast will stay open on the Twelfth of July this year.
The parades across Northern Ireland will take place on Monday, July 13.
Orangefest, on behalf of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, and Belfast City Centre Management have been working on the initiative since last year, in partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The shops will open around 12.30 when the Orange parade has passed through the city centre and is on its way to the demonstration field at Barnett’s Demesne, near Shaw’s Bridge. They will close around 4.30pm, or one hour before the parade makes its return journey.
The Twelfth attracts the biggest single crowd to Belfast at any time during the year and it is believed that more than 250,000 people either take part in the parade or line the route.
Councillor William Humphrey, Deputy Chairman of Orangefest, said:
“The Twelfth is now a major tourist attraction in the Northern Ireland calendar. We know that as well as local people, there are many others who time their visits to the province to co-incide with the celebrations.
“The County Grand Lodge of Belfast and Orangefest have been working for several years to enhance the family friendly atmosphere to the Twelfth and this has been extremely successful.
“The colour, pageantry and music of the Twelfth in Belfast is enjoyed by tens of thousands of people.
“We have worked very successfully with Belfast City Centre Management, the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Belfast City Council and the police to bring about this major development, which we believe will be in everyone’s interests. People will be able to enjoy the parade and take time to have something to eat in the local restaurants or do a bit of shopping.
“The Twelfth in Belfast has become a true festival and we will continue to work to improve the day for everyone. Last year, in conjunction with the police, there was a clampdown on street drinking and this added to the family friendly atmosphere. We will be working closely with the police again this year and we would ask all supporters and visitors to work with us, and the police, to make the Belfast Twelfth a very special and enjoyable day for everyone.”
Andrew Irvine, Belfast City Centre Management, said:
“Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, under the leadership of its President John Moore has undertaken a Herculean effort since September last year to drive footfall and economic life in the city centre.
“The businesses have sealed a very close working relationship with Belfast City Council and Belfast Visitor Centre and Convention Bureau to drive the city forward, now under the heading of Belfast 2009.
“A key element of the current campaign is to leverage the benefit of the extensive offer Belfast has in terms of events and festivals. The business community is therefore pleased to step up to the plate and play its part in helping to build Belfast’s largest visitor number event into a festival with international appeal.”