White House Tours canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013
We regret to inform you that White House Tours are canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013, until further notice. For updates regarding this situation, please contact the White House Visitors Office 24 hour hotline at (202) 456-7041.
White House Visitor Center Rehabilitation and Closure Information
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.
2012 National Christmas Tree Lighting Program
The National Christmas Tree and Events on the Ellipse
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 Thursday, December 6, 2012. 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.
Detailed information, particularly hours of operation for the events below, will be available closer to December.
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 Thursday, December 6, 2012.
Additional information on performers is available from the National Park Foundation. This year, scheduled performers include James Taylor, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Colbie Caillat, and Phillip Phillips.
Tickets to attend the event are required and were distributed by a lottery that ran October 25 to October 29, 2012.
National Christmas Tree Program Activities and the Pathway of Peace
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 will usually be lit from dusk until late evening between December 7, 2012 and January 1, 2013. Other seasonal displays include large-scale model trains and Santa's workshop.
National Christmas Tree Railroad
Returning for the 18th 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, 2013. All aboard!
Santa himself will also be making a return appearance as part of Santa's Workshop from December 8 to December 24. Generally, Santa and 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:
Tickets are not required for the Pathway of Peace, Santa's Workshop, or the model train display.
National Christmas Tree Nightly Performances
If you are interested in having your group perform, please visit the music program application page. Applications were accepted September 1, 2012 to September 22, 2012.
Tickets are not required for the nightly performance series.
Did You Know?
Abraham Lincoln was the first president to wear a beard and the tallest president at 6 foot, 4 inches.