The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Carillon is played live in recital each weekday of the academic year at 12 and 5 PM, and on Sunday mornings after 11 AM services.
During the three main academic quarters we offer the opportunity for visitors and members of the University community to climb the tower for recitals Tuesday through Friday. The Chapel is closed to visitors on Mondays. Check our home page for current details, including notification of academic breaks and other closures. Read more about visiting the carillon.
During the summer, we traditionally present a special series of Sunday evening concerts, The Bells of Summer. These concerts last for an hour, and you’re invited to bring a lawnchair or blanket and a picnic. Children and pets are welcome.
The carillon is also played regularly for University and community ceremonies from convocations to weddings and memorials.
Visiting the carillon
In 271 steps we can show you the bells from the perspective of our carillon students and peregrine falcons!
If you’d like to climb the tower, please check the front page of our website for current access status. The tours are free to students and staff with UChicago ID. The climb is 40-60 minutes roundtrip including a live demonstration in the playing cabin.
For internal UChicago team-building trips or retreats, please contact Alex Johnson. Dedicated tours at normal times (Thursday at 11:30 preferred) or special times by consultation are reserved at $5 per person by internal transfer to FAS 2-68010-0775 ($50 minimum). For external school groups and tours, please reach Matthew Dean; a donation of $5 per person (not required in advance) is suggested for special reservations which limit access to other patrons.
Please note that the tour is not suitable for children under the age of 5. Young children and anyone unable to ascend the stone steps may watch the recital free of charge in the Chapel itself from one of two viewing stations in the west transept and narthex. If members of your party ascend, you can expect their return 40-60 minutes later.
Carillon tours are capped at 15 guests.
Climbing the tower
The spiral stone staircase is taken at a leisurely pace, and is not recommended for those who are claustrophobic. Along the way you’ll walk above the Chapel’s false ceiling (the attic, via a catwalk), through the mechanical room housing the original carillon regulator clock as well as the pneumatically-driven mechanism of the quarter and hour chimes, past the largest bell (36,926 lbs at 117 inches in diameter) and its 13 friends, and then into the playing cabin, 240 of the 271 steps up, where the carillonneur plays the mighty instrument. Beyond the cabin, another short winding staircase leads the way to the top of the tower. In season and when permitted by the University, magnificent 360 degree views of Chicago, Lake Michigan, northern Indiana, the Michigan Harbor Country shoreline, and the University itself are available.