Tens of thousands of Protestant loyalists have marched through Belfast and other cities in Northern Ireland to mark the Twelfth of July. The parades are held to celebrate the anniversary of the defeat of Catholic King James by Protestant King William in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

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An Orange bandsman prepares for the start of the Twelfth of July parade in BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
The Twelfth of July parade makes its way through the centre of BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
The Orange parade leaders are inspected before they begin marchingCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Orange Order Grand Masters lead a short prayer service inside the main Protestant Hall before the start of the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A youth dressed as the Protestant King William of Orange takes part in the Twelfth of July parade in BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Orange Order marchers are reflected in a puddle during the parade in BelfastPaul Faith/AFP
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Nationalist protesters stand behind a police line as the Orange parade passes the nationalist Ardoyne areaCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A PSNI officer watches on as an Orange band is given a police escort past the nationalist Ardoyne area during the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A protester with a 'Love Thy Neighbour' placard lies on the road as an Orange band passes the nationalist Ardoyne areaCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
An Orange bandsman shouts as he passes supporters and onlookers during the Twelfth of July parade in BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
An Orange bandsman pounds his drum during the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
An Orange bandsman walks along a road during the Twelfth of July parade in BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
An Orange bandsman throws his baton into the air during the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A woman dressed in red, white and blue watches the main Orange demonstration during the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A woman wearing Union flags takes a picture as she watches the Orange Order march in BelfastPaul Faith/AFP
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Young Orange bandsman make their way along the main route of the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Female members of the Orange Order wave during the annual parade in BelfastPaul Faith/AFP
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Some Orange bandswomen pose for a photograph before taking part in the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Some Orange bandsmen joke with one another as they prepare for the start of the Twelfth of July paradeCharles McQuillan/Getty Images

Huge bonfires were lit around Northern Ireland to commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help King William's ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II.

northern ireland glorious twelfth
Loyalists stack pallets and tyres in preparation for their 11th night bonfire at the New Mossley estate in BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A huge bonfire towers over evacuated and protected houses on Clobham Street in east BelfastPaul Faith/AFP
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A bonfire is seen in front of a loyalist mural in the lower Shankill area of BelfastPaul Faith/AFP
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Hundreds of people gather as a huge bonfire is set alight at the New Mossley housing estate in BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
A child carrying the Union flag walks past the huge bonfire on the New Mossley housing estateCharles McQuillan/Getty Images
northern ireland glorious twelfth
Iain McFarland, an Orange bandsman, plays his flute as the 11th night bonfire burns at the New Mossley housing estate in BelfastCharles McQuillan/Getty Images