Bell Towers Across Four Continents Set to Ring in the New Year

This New Year’s Eve, the first-ever Ring around the World will invite bells to resound in an international moment of unity and celebration. At midnight local time on Dec. 31, 2021, bells are set to toll the hour in Bathurst, Australia, before Carillonneur Denise Garland plays a stirring arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne” from the 47-bell Bathurst War Memorial Carillon.

This recital will kick-off a series of free and open-to-everyone performances as clocks strike midnight in successive time zones across the continents. From Bathurst to Cape Town, and from Stockholm to Washington, D.C., bells will ring in the New Year in the first global bell ringing event.

To hear the bells ring, head to a participating bell tower on New Year’s Eve and find a comfortable spot outdoors to listen to the bells ring in the New Year at midnight. Pack a picnic, bring a mug of cocoa, or sing along as the bells begin to play. Inclement weather? Dress appropriately for the weather in your area. There will be no indoor access at any bell tower.

Where will the bells ring?

Beginning near the International Date Line, the bells will first resound in Australia and continue as midnight reaches subsequent time zones. Some of the participating bell towers include:

  • Bathurst War Memorial Carillon | Bathurst, NSW, Australia
  • St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral | Geraldton, WA, Australia
  • City Hall Carillon | Cape Town, South Africa
  • Deutsche St. Gertruds Kirche | Stockholm, Sweden
  • Joseph D. Baker Tower and Carillon | Frederick, Maryland, USA
  • Theresa Mohnke Memorial Carillon | Houston, Texas, USA
  • Christ Cathedral | Garden Grove, California, USA

*Additional locations to be announced.

Christ Cathedral Bell Tower and Carillon in Garden Grove, California

Image: The Crean Tower at Christ Cathedral, a glimmering 236-foot stainless-steel mirrored spire, rises over 18 stories and houses a magnificent 52-bell carillon.

What is a carillon?

A carillon is a musical instrument of bells. Typically housed in a purpose-built bell tower or belfry, a carillon consists of at least 23 harmonically-tuned bells. A carillonneur, or someone who plays the carillon, then operates an intricate system of internal clappers or external hammers to sound the bells. Much like an organist, a carillonneur can create chords, harmonies, and melodies on their instrument – sending elegant tunes wafting across the rooftops.

Why are the bells playing “Auld Lang Syne”?

At the stroke of midnight, bell towers will play one of the most recognizable melodies in the world: “Auld Lang Syne.” A popular tune based on a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788, “Auld Lang Syne” is traditionally sung to bid farewell to the old year on New Year's Eve. There are many arrangements of the tune. Each carillonneur will select his or her favorite for the midnight performance.

Cover image: The 282-foot brick and copper bell tower of the Deutsche St. Gertruds Kirche rises above Stockholm, Sweden.