Big Ben will ring to mark the start of the New Year for the first time since its restored blue clock face was revealed from behind scaffolding.
The landmark bell will sound at midnight on New Year’s Eve after scaffolding covering the tower’s North Dial was removed halfway through restoration work.
The 96-metre-tall Elizabeth Tower, which is one of the most notable buildings in the UK, has been covered in scaffolding for the last two years as the four clock dials are reglazed, ironwork is repainted and intricately carved stonework is cleaned and repaired.
In March, sections of the scaffolding were removed to show the clock’s repainted blue face, in line with its original design.
The north clock face was originally painted Prussian blue in 1859 but was turned black due to pollution and weathering before being painted black in the 1980s.
Since it was silenced in 2017 for restoration work, Big Ben has only sounded for some important events, such as Remembrance Day and the New Year.
It may also ring at the end of January for Brexit after Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the newly elected speaker of the House of Commons, said he was “not going to stand in the way” if MPs want to mark the exit date.
A group of more than 50 Tory MPs have backed an early day motion calling for the bell to chime at 11pm on 31 January.
Earlier this year, then-speaker John Bercow blocked a campaign for Big Ben to ring on 29 March, the UK’s original scheduled departure date from the EU.
The bell will be tested on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday by “clock mechanics” and sound engineers ahead of the international BBC broadcast at midnight on the 31 December, parliament has said.
The restoration of the entire Elizabeth Tower, which will cost an estimated £61m and see the landmark repaired and redecorated, is due to be completed in 2021.
It will be followed by a £4bn restoration to the entire parliament building, which is thought to be a serious risk due to faulty electric, leaks and asbestos.