The Co Down village of Scarva will on Friday host Ulster’s biggest one-day event, at a single location, with a crowd of at least 100,000 expected for the Sham Fight and Royal Black Institution parade.
The Sham Fight is preceded by a parade of 90 preceptories comprising 4,000 RBP members, all led by bands, The parade will leave the assembly field at Gilford Road at 11.15am and move through the village to the Demesne, in front of Scarvagh House.
Districts represented will be Portadown, Newry, Tandragee, Banbridge, Markethill, Lower Iveagh (Dromore), Rathfriland and Mourne, with other preceptories from Belfast, Co Londonderry and Co Antrim.
To mark the ending of the First World War, the parade will be led by ‘soldiers’ and ‘nurses’ in period costume.
The Sham Fight takes place in the Demesne at 1.30pm, prior to the religious service.
This mock battle is the only remaining one of its kind in Ireland. In the field where the re-enactment is staged, is the large chestnut tree where King William tied his horse on the way to the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 and where his troops rested.
In the Sham Fight, ‘King William’ is enacted by John Adair and ‘King James’ by Colin Cairns. They will be joined by ‘soldiers’ in period costume.
The Rev William Anderson, newly installed sovereign grand master of the Royal Black Institution, said the Scarva extravaganza is regarded as one of the must-see flagship events of the summer and the parading season in Northern Ireland.
He said: “It is truly a day like no other, and a wonderful occasion packed with music, pageantry, culture and history – a special event for the whole family to enjoy.”
Platform proceedings will be chaired by David Livingstone, Co Armagh grand master. The preacher will be Londonderry Presbyterian minister the Rev John Noble. Tullyvallen Silver Band will lead the praise and leading English mezzo-soprano, Emma Brown, will sing during the service.
Also on Friday, members of Lurgan District Royal Black Chapter No 2 take part in their annual parade in Bangor. Eight bands will lead 15 preceptories.