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How can I hear the bells ring?

On New Year's Eve, head to a participating bell tower 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.

Bells will resound throughout the following day, New Year's Day, as well. Take a stroll to your nearest bell tower or throw open your window to take in the sound. Not sure when or if your tower will be ringing during our event? Make sure to call ahead and ask them to participate!

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.

Image: John Widmann, City Carillonneur of Frederick, Maryland, plays the bells within the Joseph D. Baker Tower and Carillon.

Why are the bells playing “Auld Lang Syne”?

Many bell towers with a chime or a carillon 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.

Image: A statue of Robert Burns at Union Terrace in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sing along with us!

Join in the merriment as bells cascade overhead to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne." Download the sheet music with lyrics for two verses and let your voice be heard!

Sheet Music for Auld Lang Syne