The Somme parade

Every year in Northern Ireland, there’s a Somme commemoration parade on the evening of the first of July.

It’s not such a major production as the parades on the 12th and, since it’s not on a public holiday, it has to be in the evening. Net effect of all that is that it’s a simple round-trip parade with none of the speeches that you get on the 12th day in the “field” and because of that it’s quite a bit shorter. That said, every year it seems to throw a number of people who aren’t expecting roads to be closed along the route with the loop format tending to strand a number of cars in the middle for 20-30 minutes.

In Belfast, the parade starts and finishes around Templemore Avenue, moving along Beersbridge Road, turning up the Bloomfield Road (with the road-works stopped for the day for the second year in a row), then on the North Road, taking a diversion along Kirkliston before heading down the Newtownards Road to the starting point.Since it’s a Somme commemoration, a number of those in the bands or lodges taking part dress in period costume.

The one earlier in the week was surprisingly short. In years gone by, it’s run for over an hour but it seemed to be more like 40 minutes this time around. That wasn’t particularly due to there being fewer bands or lodges but that they seemed much more organised this year and there were none of the regular stops due to other bands or lodges grinding to a halt. It was also a relatively late start and it was starting to get dark towards the half-way mark.

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