Three Twelfth demonstrations have been selected as flagships for the biggest festival in Northern Ireland.
The flagships will be the standard bearers for the 18 demonstrations being organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland on Monday, July 13, 2009.
The three locations are Banbridge, Bangor and Larne. The events in those areas will receive special promotional support from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland. Grand Lodge will also work closely with the organisers of the flagships to promote the Twelfth.
Official estimates last year calculated that more than 500,000 people either took part in the parades or enjoyed them as spectators.
The Orange Order Director of Services, Dr. David Hume explained:
“Three years ago we chose Bangor as a flagship Twelfth and more than 80,000 people attended the demonstration. The year after that Enniskillen was chosen and the tourist authorities were involved in very successful ‘host training’ for our stewards. Last year the flagship Twelfths were Belfast, Tandragee, Dromara and Coleraine and they proved extremely successful.
“We know that more than half a million people enjoy the Twelfth and there is hard evidence that an increasing number of tourists are planning trips to Northern Ireland at that time of year so they can see the parades.
“Many people time their visit home to family and friends just to see the Twelfth.
“All of our parades are very important and we will be working with all the organisers to maximise the positive impact of the Twelfth parades. But Grand Lodge decided that we should put an extra special effort into three demonstrations this year. We selected the three locations and we have no doubt that they will be a huge success.”
The Orange Order has been working closely with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland to attract more visitors to the province in July.
“We have built a strong relationship with the tourist authorities,” said David Hume.
“They are the professionals in their world and we have listened to their advice so that we can enhance what is available to the public.”
The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Robert Saulters, said:
“The Twelfth is a unique attraction in Northern Ireland and it brings with it immense benefits to the economy and to everyone in the community. We will be doing everything we can to make the Twelfth attractive for all the family and for anyone – local or visiting – who wants to see it.
“This year is very special for our institution. It is Imperial Orange Council year and delegates from across the Orange world will gather in Belfast in July for the 43rd Triennial Conference.
“The Orange Order has 100,000 members throughout the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Togo and Ghana. We are a worldwide fraternity and it will be a special occasions to see so many of our fellow brethren here in Northern Ireland.
“It will be a fantastic opportunity to show off all that is good about Northern Ireland. We are also planning to take delegates to the excellent Boyne Battlefield site near Drogheda.”
The Rossnowlagh parade in Co. Donegal will be held on Saturday, July 11 this year and the demonstrations on July 13 will be in Belfast, Banbridge, Armagh, Londonderry, Kilrea, Dromore (Co. Tyrone), Bangor, Killyleagh, Larne, Glenarm, Ballymoney, Annalong, Coagh, Fivemiletown, Ballymena, Lisburn, Portglenone and Lisbellaw.
Many of the Twelfth demonstrations will form part of festivals running for two or three weeks in their area.