First-Ever ‘Ring around the World’ Set for Midnight this New Year’s Eve

Bell towers across four continents will strike the hour before playing “Auld Lang Syne” to signal the start of the New Year.

View from the Bell Tower Before Midnight Strikes on New Year’s Eve
From coast to coast and from continent to continent, we’re ringing in the New Year not as one nation, but as one planet.”

— Paul Ashe, Director, National Bell Festival

WASHINGTON, DC, USA, December 29, 2021 / — This New Year’s Eve, the first-ever Ring around the World will invite bells to resound in an international moment of unity and celebration. At midnight local time on 31 Dec. 2021, bells are set to toll the hour in Bathurst, Australia, before Carillonneur Denise Garland plays a stirring arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne” from the 47-bell Bathurst War Memorial Carillon.

This recital will kick-off a series of free and open-to-everyone performances as clocks strike midnight in successive time zones across the continents. From Bathurst to Cape Town, and from Stockholm to Washington, D.C., bells will ring in the New Year in the first global bell ringing event.

To hear the bells ring, head to a participating bell tower on 31 Dec. 2021, 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.

The event is being collaboratively organized by Paul Ashe of the United States’ National Bell Festival and Stuart Pearson, convener of Australia’s Festival of Bells.

Where will the bells ring?

Beginning near the International Date Line, the bells will first resound in Australia and continue as midnight reaches subsequent time zones. Some of the participating bell towers include:

Bathurst War Memorial Carillon | Bathurst, NSW, Australia
– St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral | Geraldton, WA, Australia
– City Hall Carillon | Cape Town, South Africa
– Deutsche St. Gertruds Kirche | Stockholm, Sweden
– Joseph D. Baker Tower and Carillon | Frederick, Maryland, USA
– Theresa Mohnke Memorial Carillon | Houston, Texas, USA
– Christ Cathedral | Garden Grove, California, USA
*Additional locations to be announced.

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.

Why are the bells playing “Auld Lang Syne”?

At the stroke of midnight, bell towers 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.

About the National Bell Festival

The National Bell Festival rings in the New Year with an annual celebration in Washington, D.C. As a canopy of sound erupts from bell towers overhead on the first day of the year, a city-wide festival of free public performances and experiences in art, culture, and historical interest activities happens below. Nationwide bell ringing contributes to the cacophony, as communities from coast to coast join in the pealing.

Throughout the year, the National Bell Festival refurbishes historic bells that have fallen silent and restores them to their former thundering glory. Learn more about the National Bell Festival and the lineup of events and experiences on New Year’s Day by visiting:

Source: National Bell Festival

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