The twelfth of July is the climax of the Ulster Protestant marching season, with Orangemen marching to approximately 19 venues across Northern Ireland. The Loyal Orange Order is a worldwide Protestant fraternity that celebrates a distinct religious, cultural and political history. Its chosen medium of celebration is the parade, which it dates from before its inception in 1795. The date commemorates the victory of William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Celebrations begin on the eleventh night with street parties climaxing in the lighting of bonfires.
Acceptable routes to be marched are decided annually by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission.
The Commission has the power to impose restrictions on parades that may cause offence, including the exclusion of a parade from a particular area, a route restriction, a restriction on music, or the exclusion of previously badly behaved group from a parade.
The most contentious route of recent years has been the predominantly nationalist Garvaghy Road
to Drumcree church in Portadown.
Other flashpoints include Derry city, where the parade is restricted to the Waterside area of the city.
The month of July is also an extended holiday period in Northern Ireland, although increasingly fewer people and businesses now take advantage of the traditional two week holiday. Nevertheless, while the twelfth is claimed by some to be a tourist attraction, visitors to the province during this period should expect disruptions to public transport, banks and building societies, private businesses, and various public and civic services.