The New "Bell" Époque

The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque (for our French friends who named this "Beautiful Era") marked the period between the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Bookended as it was between two wars, this was a time made remarkable by optimism, peace, progress, and cultural innovations. Art flourished. People prospered. Society advanced.

What's that to do with BellFest?

In this same spirit, we envision the National Bell Festival marking a renaissance in the capital’s sound canopy – refurbishing legacy and heritage bells, restoring bell towers in all eight wards, raising new bells to new heights, and bringing people together in a celebration of community. Over a century after the Belle Époque, we’re calling this a Bell Époque. Clever, right? We think there’s a reason the French word for beautiful so closely aligns with the English bell.

During the original: the French raised the Eiffel Tower; motion pictures were developed; we could finally safely drink milk and eat great cheese because of Monsieur Pasteur; and the world heard (with near riots) the first sounds of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. We can’t wait to see what extraordinary things we’ll accomplish, too.

Want to be part of the fun? Become a Bell Raiser and help bring the Bell Époque to Washington. Let’s make it ring!

Image: Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876.