Big Ben to participate in bell celebration

Big Ben will lead the way, but fans all over the country are being encouraged to participate in a mass bell ringing celebration to mark the start of the Olympics.

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Big Ben to participate in bell celebration
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Big Ben will participate in London 2012 bell ringing celebration

Fans throughout the country are being called to take to the streets early on Friday morning to participate in a bell ringing celebration to mark the first day of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Those participating in the bell ringing event will be in great company as the Hour Bell of the iconic London landmark Big Ben will be one of the thousands of bells ringing out around the country for three minutes, from 8.12am to 8.15am.

Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed is organising the mass participation event as part of the London 2012 Festival and his intention is for bells across the land to ring as quickly and as loudly as possible for the duration of the designated three minutes.

The hour bell of the Palace of Westminster at Big Ben will therefore chime more than 40 times from during the artistic commission. That will mark a truly historic event, as it is the first time that the strike of the famous bell has been rung outside its regular schedule since 15 February 1952, when it tolled every minute for 56 strokes from 9.30am for the funeral of King George VI.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, said: “It is a sign of how special this summer is when one of the world’s most famous bells will ring outside its regular schedule so it can be part of this London 2012 Festival commission to ring in the Olympic Games. I am delighted we can play our part in this Martin Creed artwork. This is primarily a work for every community within the UK to embrace as their own but it is also important for our famous landmarks to be represented when the eyes of the world will be on us.”

Anyone can take part by ringing any kind of bell for three minutes on Friday. To get involved, all individuals, organisations and communities are encouraged to register online at www.allthebells.com.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of London 2102 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad, said: "All the Bells is London 2012 Festival's biggest community project, and we are incredibly excited that the commission allows everyone in the UK the chance to be part of history in the making as we aim to set a world record for the largest number of bells to be rung simultaneously."

The London 2012 Festival features more than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations. Everyone is able to join in the celebration this summer with over 10 million free tickets and opportunities to take part in 12,000 events and performances at 900 venues all over the UK, including 130 world premieres and 85 UK premieres.

Share your London 2012 experiences! Follow @Heineken_UK and use #celebratelondon2012 in your tweets to be a part of the Fan Hub!

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