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Big Ben strikes for New Year's Eve 2020

This New Year’s Eve, Big Ben will strike 12 times to mark the start of 2021.

In preparation, tests will be carried out from Tuesday 29 December and the Great Bell will sound.

This year, members of the public have been advised to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home. Big Ben’s bongs will be broadcast, and we ask that you don’t visit Westminster in order to ensure that current guidelines around social distancing and coronavirus are adhered to.

Technical testing of Big Ben will take place on:

  • Tuesday 29 December from 14:00-16:00 – the bell will be struck intermittently.

  • Wednesday 30 December at 12:00, 22:00, 23:00 and midnight – the bell will sound.

  • Thursday, 31 December (New Year’s Eve), Big Ben will strike at 12:00, 16:00, 21:00, 22:00, 23:00 and finally, midnight on 31 December 2020.

Elizabeth Tower Conservation project

The Elizabeth Tower, the Great Clock and Big Ben are currently undergoing a significant programme of conservation.

Following a temporary pause in activity as a result of COVID-19, the team is now working at close to full productivity again.

Despite the challenging conditions, significant progress has been made, including:

  • Dismantling and removing the scaffolding around the roof of the Tower. Each of the 3,433 cast iron roof tiles have been removed and taken to a specialist workshop in northern England.

    Those that could be repaired were stripped of the old finishing and any weaknesses and faults were mended before the tiles were repainted with weatherproof grey paint and replaced. 

  • The Tower’s signature metal cross and orb, which sits proudly 96 meters above ground level, has also been repaired at the workshop.

    After the roof tiles and the cross and orb were put back in place, a team of gilders spent weeks gilding the ornate details to match the original design from 1859.

  • The Ayrton Light has been restored and reinstalled and now only awaits its new energy-efficient electrical light fittings.

  • In the Belfry the internal scaffolding has been removed, access to the Ayrton Light improved and the work to the floor is underway.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was on schedule to be completed by the end of 2021. However, the impact closure of the site for four months, combined with a reduction in productivity to allow for adequate social distancing means that a completion date in 2021 now looks unlikely.

A revised completion date for the conservation project is expected in the new year.

For more information about the Elizabeth Tower Conservation Project visit Parliament's website.