This Fourth, Join Us for a Picnic Under the Bells

Let freedom ring this Fourth of July at the annual concert on bells from the tranquil Taft Memorial and Carillon – just steps from Union Station and the Mall. By resolution of Congress, the Carillonneur of the Capitol plays "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other patriotic favorites from the 11-story tower at 2:00pm every Independence Day. Join BellFest for the fun!

Sunday, July 4

Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon
New Jersey Ave. and Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

Bring your own blanket and refreshments, invite your friends and family, and enjoy the cascading notes of bells from the shaded memorial knoll.

About the Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon

The towering Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon offers a quiet refuge from the bustle of Capitol Hill. It is easily distinguishable in its environs. Granite steps from Deer Island, Maine, rise to meet a cool basin moat enlivened with jets of water. The memorial’s base of dark brown Cornellian marble from Cold Springs, Minnesota, measuring 55’ x 45’ and standing 15’ high, supports a 100’-tall shaft of light Tennessee marble that stretches 32’ wide and 11’ deep. 

Two features punctuate this imposing façade: at the base along the tower’s west side, a 10’ bronze statue of Senator Taft sculpted by Wheeler Williams of New York (which took two and a half years to complete); and an open carillon of bells at the crown. Architect Douglas William Orr of New Haven, Conn., designed this monolithic structure. 

Residing within the belfry are 27 bronze bells, molded by the Paccard Bell Foundry of Annecy-le-Vieux, France. The largest weighs almost 7 tons and is tuned to the key of “G,” while the smallest bell weighs a mere 126 pounds. A technician from Paccard installed and calibrated the bells within the tower. The complete matched set continues to produce rich, resonant tones and is recognized as among the finest in the world. 

While the bells may be played manually by a skilled carillonneur appointed by the Architect of the Capitol, they are programmed to strike the hour automatically. The carillon rings 422 times in the 12 hours between 8:00am and 8:00pm: 16 times on the hour – ringing on the hour, at 15 minutes, at 30 minutes, and at 45 minutes – before tolling the actual time. The large central bell strikes the hour, while the smaller bells chime the quarter hours and play familiar tunes. By resolution of Congress, the carillonneur plays "The Star-Spangled Banner" at 2:00pm every Independence Day.

Learn more about the Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon.