The simultaneous ringing of the bells is part of the National Bell Festival.
If you’re roaming around the streets of D.C. on New Year's Day and hear a lot of bells ringing, it’s not a hangover; it’s the National Bell Festival. Bells throughout the city will ring at 2 p.m. for 20 minutes on New Year’s Day. The National Bell Festival is an annual event to highlight the art of bell ringing and to help restore historic bells in landmarks around the city. In addition to bells ringing, the festival includes a variety of activities like a 5K run, brunch, tree planting, and lectures on bells from around the world.
To experience the main event of the National Bell Festival, you can go outside and listen for the bells. But if you prefer a more immersive experience, its best to head to one of these six locations:
- All Souls Episcopal Church
- Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
- Armed Forces Retirement Home
- Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon
- Washington National Cathedral
- Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
There will also be several warm-up stations around the city where visitors can grab a hot chocolate or cup of coffee. Ahead of the city-wide ringing, ringers at the Washington National Cathedral will be attempting a “full peal,” a timed change ringing of the bells. Ringers from the Washington Ringing Society will attempt a three-hour peal that will start at 12:45 p.m. and last about three and a half hours, resulting in 5,040 bell changes. The event is free with registration and guests are invited to walk around the grounds of the cathedral during the peal attempt.
Shortly after the peal begins at the Washington National Cathedral, a carillon recital will take place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The recital from the Knights’ Tower will be performed by Robert Grogan, carillonneur of the and Organist Emeritus of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The concert starts at 1:45 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
A full list of the events of the National Bell Festival is available at nationalbellfestival.org.
Are you going to do anything special for the bell-ringing? Tell us in the comments! And Happy New Year!