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 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.
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, we invite you to arrive at the Chapel's front desk in time for departure at 11:30 am or 4:30 pm sharp, Tuesday through Friday during the academic year, or Sundays at noon after morning services. There is a suggested donation of $5, free to students and staff with UChicago ID. The climb is 40-60 minutes roundtrip including a live demonstration in the playing cabin.
For external school groups or touring companies, please be in touch with Matthew Dean, director, University Chapels; the donation of $5 per person is required for advance reservations which limit access to other patrons. For internal UChicago team-building trips or retreats, dedicated tours at normal or special times can also be reserved at the $5 per person rate by internal transfer.
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.