The Orange Order is to hold its flagship ‘Twelfth’ parade in Derry next month.
The Order says the City of Culture has been chosen for the July 12 demonstration “to provide an enhanced cultural experience as part of the biggest annual festival in Northern Ireland.”
The Twelfth in Derry will mark the culmination of a ‘A City Grand’ - a series of free cultural events held in the city as part of the City of Culture celebrations.
Orange Order Director of Services, Dr David Hume, said: “We are delighted that Londonderry will be the flagship tourist Twelfth of 2013 in what is a very special year for the city. The fact that this will be the only flagship of 2013 highlights the importance which the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland places on the UK City of Culture status which has been accorded to Londonderry and Northern Ireland.”
He added: “Twelfth flagship status places a great onus on the organisers of a particular Twelfth and we have every confidence that the officers and members of the City Grand Lodge in Londonderry will provide a fantastic event and wish them well in their planning.”
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said the announcement was “welcome news”.
“This year offers unprecedented opportunities for tourism in the North West and I have no doubt that the flagship Twelfth demonstration will attract a large number of visitors to Londonderry,” she added. “The flagship concept focuses on broadening the appeal of parades to attract a tourism audience and I know those involved in the demonstration will provide a varied and vibrant programme of events for visitors to enjoy.”
Chair of Culture Company 2013, Martin Bradley, said: “Given that 2013 is such landmark year for the city, marking as it does the 400th anniversary of the granting of the city charter and the building of the city walls, it’s particularly fitting that Derry-Londonderry will be the location for key elements of the Orange Order’s flagship celebrations.”
City of Londonderry Grand Master, James Hetherington, added: “2013 marks an exciting and important year in the city of Londonderry when the first ever UK City of Culture is celebrated. We are determined that the Orange culture will be celebrated and showcased throughout the coming months, with our events culminating in the hosting of the 323rd Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in Londonderry on July 12.”
The three most senior Orangemen will be in attendance at the demonstration in Derry.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of England, Ron Bather, and the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, Henry Dunbar, will all be on parade in the city on July 12.
Upwards of 10,000 people are expected in the city for the event while 60 lodges and more than 40 bands will take part in the parade.