The Countdown Is On!

In just one month, the third annual National Bell Festival returns with the privilege of ringing in the New Year. This year’s community festival will be our most thundering yet! With bells ringing across Washington, D.C. at our festival hub, across America in our coast-to-coast ringing, and across the globe in our first-ever Ring around the World event.

The festivities kick-off on New Year’s Eve at midnight, when Australia is the first to signal the New Year with a stirring rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” played on the resounding bells of the Bathurst War Memorial Carillon. This recital initiates a chain reaction of bell performances, as midnight reaches subsequent time zones from continent to continent.

New Year’s Day begins with our Opening Ceremony, featuring an exclusive preview of the bell ringing events to come. Festivalgoers will be treated to a complimentary cup of cocoa to help warm-up for the festival experiences ahead, while also enjoying a special performance from the acclaimed handbell ensemble, Virginia Bronze. From pop favorites to timeless tunes, Virginia Bronze will dazzle and delight with harmonious melodies on bells.

Next, we’ll pay tribute to 200 years of Harriet Tubman during a poignant bell ringing tribute at the Military Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Following brief remarks on the life and legacy of Ms. Tubman, Veteran American Servicewomen will ring a solitary bell 200 times to mark the years since her birth.

Our bell ringing will then take to the skies with thundering performances at Washington National Cathedral, where change ringers will attempt a full 3.5-hour peal, and at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where Dr. Grogan will enchant festivalgoers with a community carillon recital from the soaring Knights' Tower.

Nationwide bell ringing begins at 2:00pm Eastern, with all of America encouraged to join in the sound. For those not in the Washington, D.C. area, we’ll also stream a few events online! No matter where you are in the world, you can tune-in to learn about the carillon or hear a riveting performance by carillonneur Charlie St. Cyr-Paul of Cast in Bronze.

Throughout the day, we’ll have fun giveaways (like our cozy BellFest beanie) and surprise appearances – so what are you waiting for! All events are free and open to the public. Just let us know you’re coming by registering in advance. We expect events to fill-up quickly! Head on over to our event listings to tailor your BellFest experience. Here’s to making it ring with us on New Year’s Day!