DC’s inaugural National Bell Festival to take place New Year’s Day

Ring in 2020 (literally) by participating in free events throughout the region, all while raising awareness and funds toward the restoration and preservation of historic bells.

basillica facade tower in sky at angle
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of National Bell Festival, Inc.)

The Washington, DC and Northern Virginia region is encompassed by history. From the home of first president George Washington in Mount Vernon to the monuments throughout the District that symbolize the progress our country has made, there are thousands of stories to be told.

As we welcome a new decade on Wednesday, Jan. 1, community members and visitors alike are coming together to recognize a few of our nation’s mementos—specifically eight bells that hang in some of the region’s most significant buildings and memorials—at the inaugural National Bell Festival, taking place New Year’s Day.

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two green and yellow bells in a tower
The two bells within the Netherlands Carillion in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of National Bell Festival, Inc.)

On the first day of the year, bells in towers across the nation’s capital will ring out together, uniting the community around it with listening parties, entertaining events and special programming, all free to the public. Participating towers include the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Korean Bell Garden at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Washington National Cathedral, Old Post Office Tower and more. 

Founded by nonprofit The National Bell Festival Inc., the event aims to reignite an appreciation for bell towers as sentinels of the city, as well as raise critical funding for the care and restoration of the historic bells. As its very first service project, the nonprofit (also referred to as BellFest) will refurbish the old bell at Georgetown Lutheran Church on Wisconsin Avenue, which was lost in the Civil War and recovered decades later, yet hasn’t rung since the 1700s. 

bell of peace covered in snow at meadowlark gardens
The Korean Bell Garden located within the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. (Photo courtesy of National Bell Festival, Inc.)

Come Jan. 1, you and your family will have a surplus of entertaining events to choose from at BellFest. Starting at 10 a.m., the day’s celebration will include a morning 5K, a tree planting ceremony, warm-up stations featuring complimentary hot cocoa for kids and whiskey for adults, a meditation walk, live concerts and so much more. 

To learn more about the city’s historic bells, the day’s events or how to become a sponsor or donate to the cause, click here.

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