• View of the White House's north side from Layfatte Park

    President's Park (White House)

    District of Columbia

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    The White House Visitor Center is closed for rehabilitation. A temporary visitor center is located near the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion, just west of the intersection of 15th and E streets, NW.

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2013 National Christmas Tree

In the gloaming, the National Christmas Tree lights up the Ellipse. Smaller trees from the states and territories surround it. Visible in the background is the White House.
The 2012 National Christmas Tree lights up the Ellipse with the south side of the White House visible in the background.
NPS PHOTO
 

The National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace

Every year since 1923, there has been a National Christmas Tree. Continuing a tradition begun under President Coolidge, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree is a celebration of the holiday season. Though the tree has gone by different names over the years, a series of living and cut trees have decorated the grounds around the White House since President Coolidge's time.

Several events take place around the National Christmas Tree. The first event, the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree is scheduled for Friday, December 6, 2013. After the tree is lit, the Christmas Pathway of Peace begins. The Pathway, featuring trees representing the states and territories of the United States, also includes a number of musical performances.

Lighting of the National Christmas Tree

The tree lighting begins each year's National Christmas Tree program. Nationally known entertainers and a military band play alongside the President who joins the ceremony to deliver a message of peace. The culmination of the evening is the illumination of the National Christmas Tree which will occur on Friday, December 6, 2013.

Additional information on performers is available from the National Park Foundation.

Tickets to attend the event are required and were distributed by a lottery that ran October 31 to November 4, 2013.

National Christmas Tree Program Activities and the Pathway of Peace
December 11, 2013 - January 1, 2014
Site Hours: 10 am to 10 pm

The Pathway of Peace

The National Christmas Tree and 56 smaller trees--one for each state, the five territories, and the District of Columbia--serve as the focal point for a number of events. Together, the 57 trees form the Pathway of Peace. Sponsoring organizations in each state and territory provide the tree decorations, which are protected from the weather by a plastic globe. The Pathway of Peace trees are usually lit from dusk until late evening. Other seasonal displays include large-scale model trains and Santa's workshop.

National Christmas Tree Railroad

Returning for the 20th consecutive year, a local volunteer group will provide a model train display that surrounds the base of the National Christmas Tree. This National Christmas Tree Railroad will run daily through January 1, 2014. All aboard!

Santa's Workshop

Santa himself will also be making a return appearance as part of Santa's Workshop from December 9 to December 24. Generally, Santa and his elves are available for consultation in the evenings Monday to Thursday and afternoons and evenings Friday to Sunday. Santa's Workshop closes early on Christmas Eve to allow its staff time to return to the North Pole.

Hours for Santa's Workshop:

Monday - Thursday
4 - 6:30 pm; 7 - 9:30 pm
Friday - Sunday
12:30 - 4:30 pm; 5:30 - 9:30 pm
Christmas Eve
11 am - 3 pm

Tickets are not required for the Pathway of Peace, Santa's Workshop, or the model train display.

National Christmas Tree Nightly Performances
Download the Music Program Schedule

Free musical entertainment, featuring performances by volunteer choirs, bands, and dancers will be held nightly at the Ellipse as part of the Pathway of Peace. In general, scheduled groups are expected to perform from 5 pm to 8 pm Tuesday through Friday, from 1 pm to 8 pm Saturdays, and from 1 pm to 3 pm on Sundays. Exact dates and times for all performances are included in the music program schedule (PDF). Performances will take place between December 11, 2013 and December 22, 2013. Groups selected to perform were informed via email.

If you are interested in having your group perform in future years, please visit the music program application page. The deadline for applications was September 30, 2013. Check back in September 2014 for updated information and the year's application.

Tickets are not required for the nightly performance series.

Did You Know?

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President: 1861-1865

Abraham Lincoln was the first president to wear a beard and the tallest president at 6 foot, 4 inches.