Tag Archives: Big Ben

10 Reasons Why I Love Big Ben

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I know I am not alone in my love for Big Ben. This famous clock tower is the most synonymous icon with the United Kingdom. When you Google search London, Big Ben will always be among the top search results for this transcendent city. It’s the primo location shot in many films and Big Ben still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

Everyone has their own love story with Big Ben and I thought I’d share mine with you.

How My Love of Big Ben Started

The first time this young wide-eyed girl saw Big Ben was in the 1953 Disney animated film, Peter Pan. The next occurrence was in the ground-breaking masterpiece, with both live action and animation, of Mary Poppins. I was hooked and believed this clock tower was practically perfect in every way.

As an adult, I am still very sentimental when it comes to Big Ben. In fact, I have a confession to make. I dearly love the Tinker Bell films produced by DisneyToon Studios. I’ve watched each one several times. The animation is flipping amazing, the stories are very clever, and nearly every film includes a shot of Big Ben. Each time I watch the films and see that iconic clock tower, I cry.

I realized the tears were of longing. I fell in love with Big Ben, as a little girl, and wanted to see this amazing clock tower in person. The closest I’ve come, thus far, was seeing it on Periscope. The most amazing experience was a broadcast of the clock tower at midnight all lit up. The quarter bells would chime first, preceding the “father bell” and then, I heard him. It was Ben, the big bell, ringing out 12 times with that unmistakable BONG! Once again, I found myself shedding tears of both joy and longing. The sound was music to my ears but fueled the ache in my heart to personally see my beloved Big Ben.

A Few Facts about Big Ben

Before I get into the reasons why I love Big Ben, I thought I’d share a few interesting facts.

Elizabeth Tower

In 2012, for her Diamond Jubilee, the famous London clock tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower after Queen Elizabeth II.

Silence, Please

The bells of Big Ben were silenced during a few notable events:

  • Winston Churchill’s funeral on January 30, 1965
  • Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on April 17, 2013
  • A lengthy maintenance that was performed for 33 hours on October 25, 2005, on the clock and chimes.

Radio Broadcast

The chimes of this iconic clock tower were first broadcasted by the BBC on December 31, 1923. It is a tradition that continues to this day.

No Outsiders Allowed

The saddest fact I’ve learned, about Big Ben, was its restriction to outsiders. Only UK residents may tour the interior and it must be arranged by a Member of Parliament.

10 Reasons Why I Love Big Ben

Aside from being the number one tourist attraction of the UK, here’s my list of the top ten reasons why I love Big Ben.

  • The Nickname – the name “Big Ben” refers to the Great Bell of the famous London clock tower. It was speculated this nickname came from Sir Benjamin Hall, the overseer of the Great Bell installation. Another possibility of this nickname comes from English Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Benjamin Caunt.
  • Clock Face – there are 312 pieces of opal glass in each clock dial. A special light is illuminated above the clock faces when parliament is in session.
  • The Great Bell – the incomparable “bong” comes from a patched crack in the bell due to the faulty design of the original hammer. The bell was repaired, given an eighth of a turn, and fitted with a proper hammer to apply the correct striking force.
  • At Night –the entire tower is lit up at night and then goes into “lights out” mode after the stroke of midnight. After the stroke of twelve, only the clock faces are still illuminated.
  • Big Ben’s Survival– After a bomb destroyed the House of Commons chamber during WWII, the clock tower survived and Big Ben continued to chime every hour.
  • Queen Victoria – the Latin words, at the base of each clock dial, DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, which means O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.
  • Location, Location – Big Ben has been named the most popular film location and seen in countless TV shows and movies.
  • Worth Its Weight in Pennies – a stack of pennies is piled on the pendulum to regulate the clock’s time.
  • Washing Up – using only soap and water, a group of window washers will abseil (rappel) from the belfry down to the clock faces to give them a proper washing up. This cleaning is performed every 5 years.
  • New Year’s Eve – this famous clock tower is the focal point of London’s New Year’s Eve celebration, highlighted by a massive fireworks display.

Do You Love Big Ben Too?

Is anyone else in love with this iconic London clock tower? If so, why? Log into our website and post your comments.

Big Ben Chimes at Midnight


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New Year’s Eve in London is Best

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Image by © Terry Bouch/Demotix/Corbis

Without a doubt, London has to be one of the best places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Well, this year is no different and this iconic city has plenty in store. Even if you can’t make it to England’s capital this go around, you’ll know how to go out with a bang next year.

Top Venues

London Celebrates with Unicef

Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said he was thrilled to ring in the New Year with the renowned children’s charity, Unicef. Together, Greater London Authorities and Unicef want to raise awareness for the some 30 Million children without homes throughout the world. By supporting this event, Unicef endeavors to raise funds to aid homeless children due to wars and disasters, focusing on Syria and Nepal.

This upcoming event was so well received that tickets have been sold out for some time. To learn more about how you can help support Unicef in reducing child homelessness, click here.

Thames River Cruise

For those that like to party on the go, Thames River Cruises’ theme for 2015 is “disco” with loads of classic hits to boogie the night away.

  • Choose Your Boat – These 4 river cruise boats will transport New Year’s Eve guests along the River Thames and provide a primo spot to watch famed London fireworks.
    • Thames Princess Pier: Lambeth Pier (south bank near Lambeth Bridge)
    • Royal Princess Pier: Westminster Pier (north bank next to Westminster Bridge)
    • Viscountess Pier: Embankment Pier (Embankment Tube Station & Hungerford Bridge)
    • Old London Pier: Embankment Pier (Embankment Tube Station & Hungerford Bridge)
  • DJ and Dance – You can dance the night away with your friends or significant other to ring in the New Year in the upper saloon of these boats.
  • Full Bar – For a tipple or a pint, these cruise boats have fully-licensed bars. They are cash only so stop by the nearest hole in the wall before you disembark.
  • Finale – The boats will be moored at the Houses of Parliament, close to Big Ben, where you’ll be front and center for the New Year’s Eve fireworks display near the Coca-Cola London Eye.

Sky Gardens – Walkie Talkie

Imagine an aerial view of the Thames River, inside a swanky bar with elegant ambiance and live music. With a 360 degree view, you’ll have the perfect spot at midnight to see London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

  • Sky Pod Bar – While you wait for midnight to strike, enjoy a drink at one of the lamp-lit tables from this main-level bar, whilst soaking in the nightlife atmosphere.
  • Fenchurch – an upscale restaurant, which serves a British contemporary menu, overlooks the main area of Sky Gardens. If the main dining room is booked, you can reserve a table in the private room which has the best view.
  • Darwin – if the Fenchurch is booked, phone the Darwin Brasserie and reserve a table. With its laid-back luxe furnishings and sports box dining room, you’re sure to have a great view of the lower level and the Thames River.

The Shard

A dinner at the Shard does not come cheap but for New Year’s Eve, it’s a major wallet-buster. Entrance tickets start at £149 in which you’ll be handed a glass of champagne upon arrival. If you make the sort of dosh worthy of a truly posh dining experience, then this is for you.

  • Aqua Shard – located on the 31st floor, this restaurant of contemporary British cuisine also includes private dining rooms and a 3-story atrium bar.
  • Oblix – located on the 32nd floor, this 360 view of London boasts of a 6-course dinner with champagne and wine pairings throughout the meal for £450 per person. Yikes! I told you it was steep.
  • Hutong – located on the 33rd floor, this high-end Northern Chinese cuisine restaurant, based on the one in Hong Kong, will also give you panoramic views of London. From Dim Sum to dessert, plus a half bottle of champagne, you’re asked to drop £345 for this 5-course dinner. Ouch!
  • Lang – this confectionery is based on the world-renowned Shangri-La’s signature cakes, pastries, chocolates, and fresh-brewed coffee. I must visit this place.
  • Ting – on the 35th floor, this modern European cuisine restaurant, with an Asian twist, is based on the one found in the Shangri-La Hotel. It has spectacular views of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the City Centre of London, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and Canary Wharf. Here you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.
  • Gong – on the 52nd floor, this plush Asian cocktail bar gives you stunning views of London. Great for a late-night drink or a champagne toast for New Year’s Eve.

Thames Firework Display

London is well-known for its New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Ever since the city commemorated the start of the 2012 Olympics, with its massive pyrotechnic display, it has become the must-see for NYE. The north and south banks of the River Thames are packed with crowds of people waiting for Big Ben to strike midnight. The best viewing areas are cordoned off for those who have tickets, but you can still get there early and grab yourself a primo spot.

Guaranteed Front Row Seat

Filipino expat, Orion Hombre has been scoping around London ever since the Periscope app was released in March 2015. He thoroughly enjoys showing viewers this architecturally rich city and will be broadcasting for New Year’s Eve in London. Therefore, if you are unable to celebrate this momentous holiday in person, follow Orion on Twitter for updates about his upcoming NYE London broadcast. Download the app on your Apple or Android device and follow Orion on Periscope as well so you don’t miss it!

Your London NYE Celebrations

Any of you ever been in London to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Do you a have particularly nostalgic or exciting memory from your London festivities? Log into our website and post your comments below.

Sign up for our newsletter before 12/31 and learn how to do New Year’s Eve in London on a Budget!

NYE London Celebration Last Year

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