by JULIE ANN SPENCE
H1LLSBOROUGH is gearing up for Festival at the Fort which will take place between July 1 and July 12 as part of this year's Twelfth festivities. This year Hillsborough has been selected as one of five prestigious flagship Twelfth celebrations and the Festival at the Fort is just one of the events being held to mark the occasion.
Building on the success of the festival in 2003, Hillsborough District LOL No. 19, in conjunction with Hillsborough Working Together, will kick start the Festival on July 1, joining with the Lodges from the South Antrim Combine, in Lisburn to mark the Battle of the Somme commemorations.
Continuing the Great War theme Carol Walker, director of the Somme Association, will present 'Through Clabber to Glory'' a lecture and showing the 'Battle of the Somme' film at Hillsborough Village Centre on Saturday July 3 at 7.30pm.
For those interested in Hillsborough's heritage, local historian, Simon Walker will be taking a 'wee dander' around the village on Monday July 5, starting at 7.30pm. Simon, who is co-author of the best records the history of the village down through the centuries, will take visitors on a tour of the sites of Hillsborough and there will ne a cup of tea at the end. In the event of bad weather, Simon will present his talk and presentation at Hillsborough Village Centre.
'What is Protestantism?' is the topic for discussion on Wednesday July 8 at Hillsborough Village Centre at 8pm. The debate will tackle the diverse range of views of the Protestant faith, its culture and traditions, drawing opinions from across the community. Contributors to the debate will include Rev. Mervyn Gibson, Rev. Dr. Con Casey, Jeffrey Donaldson ME and Malachi O'Doherty under the chairmanship of Austin Hunter. Everyone is welcome to go along and put their questions to the panel and enjoy a lively discussion.
The best of Ulster-Scots culture will be show cased on Thursday July 8, with a Gala Dinner being hosted at Star of the Maze Orange Hall. Diners will be treated to demonstrations of Lambeg drumming and Highland piping, with Dr. Ian Adamson, founder chair of the Ulster-Scots language society, special guest speaker.
Traditional Orange culture will be on show on Friday July 9, with the Opening of the Arch parade and ceremony in Hillsborough. The parade starts at 7.15pm, and then Bro. Alec Luke will conduct the religious ceremony at the arch in Lisburn Street. The best presented lodge will be awarded a cup for their efforts and the arch will be opened by Bro. James Magee, District Master, in this his final year in that role. Historical re-enactors will mark the granting of the Regium Donum in Hillsborough by King William III in 1690.
Then everyone is invited to Hillsborough Orange Hall for the
'Hillsborough Hooley' as everyone experiences the high energy side of
Ulster-Scots music and dance, which starts at 8.30pm. Risin Stour will be
calling the ceilidh dances. There'll also be light supper served to keep
energy levels up.
Hillsborough Fort will be the location for the gatherin, on Saturday July 10 at 2pm. Kids will be entertained with face painting, games, penalty kick competition and nibbles.
'Giving Thanks' is the theme for Sunday July 11 as Hillsborough District parades to Hillsborough Free Presbyterian Church for its annual Divine Service. Brethren and bands are to assemble at Market Square in the village at 2pm, with the service commencing at 3pm. The Rev. Gary Goodes will be conducting the service.
The Glorious Twelfth, is the finale event of Festival at the Fort. Marking the 320th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, the 70 lodges of the South Antrim Combine will join with bands, friends and family. Hillsborough has been granted a 'Flagship Twelfth' award by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and Northern Ireland Tourist Board due to the innovative nature of the event and its location.
District Master James Magee said he was excited by the prospect of thousands of people coming to Hillsborough: "Being District Master is an honour in any event, but to be placed in that role when you're hosting the Twelfth is an added bonus. The pageantry, colour and music on display are absolutely unique and we're justifiably proud of our Orange culture" he said.
"Bring the kids' your friends and family - the Twelfth in Hillsborough is a day out for everyone. Diamond Dan and his helpers will be on hand with goodies, we'll have entertainment at the Fort, re-enactors, the Ulster-Scots Folk Orchestra, there'll be parade floats, the Ferguson Flyers, horses, and more. Come rain or shine, this will be on offer."
The parade will commence at 11.30am from Newport, Culcavy, proceeding to Hillsborough Fort. The Divine Service will commence at 2.30pm and the parade will return at 4.30pm.
Keep up to date with Festival at the Fort at www.district19.co.uk.