The crowd which gathered in the city center and the route out of the city to the field at Barnett Demesne seemed bigger than it had been three years ago.
Also the cheers seemed louder, the smiles bigger and the hugs tighter than last time round.
It is the showpiece event of the marching season and quite rightly its absence was felt, but by the same token that same absence has made some hearts grow fonder.
Rathcoole Protestant Boys were one of many flute bands who were in exuberant form as they marched through Belfast city centre.
They even kept marching during one of the breaks in the parade, moving in circular formation as they played, much to the delight of the multitude of spectators cheering them on.
It was clear to see the passion of the bands, and the pride on the faces of the Orangemen and women on parade.
There were also a few fashion statements among the ranks.
Shankill Old Boys impressed in their Peaky Blinders style flat caps, white shirts and braces as did The Billy Boys Flute Band with their smart red, white and blues pullovers.
Helping the men of LOL 903 stand out was a collection of orange bucket hats, although it was the Orangewomen of two lodges in particular who really caught the eyes with their co-ordinated efforts – one group in matching poppy dresses with red floral headpieces, and another group in red, white and blue dresses based on the Union flag.
There were plenty of red, white and blue garments on display in the crowd too, and another commonly worn item was the orange Glasgow Rangers shirt, which complemented the sashes of those on the march.
Ray Burgess and Norman McCleery from Upper Falls LOL 1459 were proud to don their well-decorated sashes for yesterday’s parade.
Ray said he was delighted for it to be back to a “full scale” Twelfth.
He said: “It feels like people have come out in even bigger numbers than before.”
Norman added: “It’s just so great to be back to the way things were, it feels even more special having been away for two years.”
Of his impressive collection of badges on his sash, he said: “I’ve collected them over about 15 or 20 years.
“It’s full so when I get a new one I have to swap it.
“You’ll be able to get a badge at most parades, they’re not too dear but when you’ve this many I wouldn’t want to work out how much they cost.
“I used to have another sash which was full of badges but I took it off and set it down and it went missing.”
The weather provided perfect marching conditions for the Belfast route, not too warm and no major downpours to speak of.
Still, you could see some of those taking part were feeling the strain which isn’t surprising on a six mile walk.
While some had to travel by car due to the length of the walk, one Orangemen found a happy medium, joining the parade on a three wheel mobility scooter.
According to the Orange Order’s County Grand Master Spencer Beattie around 10,000 members of the organization and bandsmen and women took part in the march through Belfast.
There were plenty of Scottish visitors with banners and bands from Glasgow, Saltcoats, and Stirling spotted between the Belfast lodges.
One of the bandsmen of the future striking up a tune by the roadside was three-year-old Archie McMurtry.
Kitted out with a miniature bass drum and a blue and orange feathered cap, he was awaiting the arrival of Whiterock Flute Band in which his dad Adam is a bass drummer.
Mum Jenny said: “This is his third Twelfth, but this is the first one with the drum.
“His Daddy doesn’t know he has this wee drum so it’s going to be a surprise for him.
“Archie’s having a great day, he loves watching the bands and he’s loving his new drum.”
Among those enjoying the parade in the city center were May and her English Springer Spaniel Lucy, who was kitted out in a Union Flag dog coat.
May said: “I take her out to the Twelfth every year.
“She’s 13 now, she’s getting old, but she loves the bands.
“She pulls me after them. Sometimes she has a wee dance.”