United Kingdom Selected as 2023 Spotlight Nation

As the thundering of bells rings in the New Year, the 2023 National Bell Festival will highlight the rich bell ringing traditions and bell making heritage of the United Kingdom. Bells have rung across the UK, our inaugural spotlight country, for over 1,500 years. Indeed, the Church of England provides every church with at least one bell to ring the people to service. From single bells in sleepy hamlets to the majestic rings of peal bells at magnificent cathedrals, the sound of bells ringing is deeply rooted in British culture – and within earshot of almost every home in Britain.

From legendary bell foundries like Whitechapel, who cast the Liberty Bell and re-cast Big Ben, to the roughly 40,000 bell ringers who work the ropes at the nation’s more than 5,000 change ringing towers, bell ringing is deeply ingrained throughout the UK. Bells call people to worship, signal the time, rally to arms, gather to celebrate, and toll to mourn. 

The National Bell Festival will pay tribute to this proud bell ringing culture in the upcoming festival, casting a spotlight on the people, places, and bells of the UK. Music by British composers will be provided to carillonists across the world while change ringers will attempt their finest peals. Throughout, we’ll hear from some incredible individuals and groups who keep the bells ringing over the British Isles.

What is the annual spotlight nation?

Beginning in 2023, the National Bell Festival is excited to shine a light on the bell ringing culture and practices of countries around the world. The program reflects our belief that bells have the power to unite people together. 

We celebrate the diversity of people and the uniqueness of nations, but we also recognize how alike we all are as humans. The reverberating ring of a bell crosses over boundaries and borders. It cares not for social or economic differences. For hundreds of years, bells have gathered people together in times of hardship and celebration alike. 

Let’s keep bells ringing and let’s keep bringing people together – exchanging arts and culture, supporting youths and education, and empowering community development. Where will bell ringing take us next year? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

Image: The Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, strikes the "Charles" bell, named after him, during his visit to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, May 15, 2012. Eight bells named for members of the Royal family were cast at the foundry to be rung from a floating belfry during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames. Picture: Arthur Edwards.