A new four-day festival, culminating in the re-enactment of King William of Orange’s arrival in Carrickfergus ahead of his battle with King James at the Boyne, will commence this Thursday.
The highlight of the inaugural Royal Landing - an enhanced programme marking the historic event - will be Saturday’s pageant in the Co Antrim town.
King William will be rowed into the harbour adjacent to the medieval castle where he will be met by soldiers and dragoons dressed in period costume, before leading a parade on horseback.
Large crowds of people are anticipated and they will be able to avail of market stalls, street theatre, a funfair and live entertainment.
The rebranded annual pageant, running June 8 - 11, will also incorporate an open-air musical concert and Lambeg drumming workshop.
A separate gospel concert will take place on Sunday afternoon.
Darren McAllister, chairman of the Carrickfergus Historical Re-enactment Group, said: “We are excited about the rebranding of the annual Carrickfergus Pageant to the Royal Landing and we hope the change will assist the ever-growing appeal of the event.
“It’s our aim to make the historical significance seem as life like as possible as we have visitors from across the UK, Ireland and further afield who travel to witness this event year on year.
“The organising committee have engaged with an even wider range of stakeholders including local businesses, community organisations and utilised the services of a professional consultant to help find areas of improvement with the aim of making the event bigger and better.
“The expansion of the Royal Landing to a four-day celebration event will be the result which we hope all of our visitors will thoroughly enjoy.”
Harold Henning, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, congratulated organisers on their ingenuity and commitment, ensuring one of the seminal events in the institution’s heritage is celebrated.
He said: “Carrickfergus is rich in Orange history, with its magnificent castle overlooking the harbour where King William landed in 1690 on his way to victory at the Battle of the Boyne.
“The Royal Landing is sure to bring our glorious past back to life in a unique way as it further establishes itself as one of the flagship events in the lead up to the Twelfth of July.
“On behalf of Grand Lodge, I wish the organising committee every success for what is sure to be a tremendous occasion.”
The Carrick pageant is being held in partnership with the British Heart Foundation in Northern Ireland, raising funds for research into and awareness of heart disease.
The Royal Landing programme is as follows:
Thursday, June 8 - Lambeg Drumming Workshop and Display, Market Place, 7 - 9pm.
Friday, June 9 - Royal Landing Concert, Marine Gardens, 7.30 - 10pm. Performers include Millar Memorial Flute Band, Tillyhay Dancers, Sinclair Pipe Band, Hounds of Ulster and Vow Accordion Band.
Saturday, June 10 - Parade and re-enactment, 12.15pm - 5pm.
Sunday, June 11 - Gospel Concert, 2 - 4.30pm.