National Christmas Tree

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The tradition of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse began with President Calvin Coolidge over 90 years ago when he lit a 48 foot Balsam Fir from Vermont decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white, and green on Christmas Eve 1923. Today, the tree lighting remains a beloved holiday event in Washington, DC. Learn more about the history of the National Christmas Tree.
A wide view of Chris Stapleton playing guitar, H.E.R. playing keyboard, the backup band, the lit Christmas Tree, the White House, and the crowd seated in the audience.
National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, 2021

NPS / Nathan King

Watch the National Christmas Tree Lighting

The 2021 ceremony and official lighting took place on Thursday, December 2.

LL COOL J hosted the 99th National Christmas Tree Lighting, which included performances of beloved holiday tunes by Billy Porter, Chris Stapleton, H.E.R., Juanes, Keb’ Mo’, Kristin Chenoweth, Maren Morris and Patti LaBelle performing alongside the U.S. Army Band Downrange and the Howard Gospel Choir. The event included remarks by President Joe Biden and Secretary Deb Haaland and an appearance by National Park Service ranger Millie Jimenez.

This year’s audience included local first responders, members of the military and their families, frontline workers and those who support them.

In partnership with the National Park Foundation, CBS broadcasted the ceremony on Sunday, December 5. The ceremony is available to watch on now!

A row of small Christmas trees in front of the White House.
Pathway of Peace, 2021

NPS / Nathan King

Pathway of Peace

How to Visit

The Pathway of Peace site is free to visit and open to the public December 4 through January 1, 2022. Hours are 10:00 am-10:00 pm Sunday-Thursday, and 10:00 am-11:00 pm Friday and Saturday.

What to Expect

The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 58 state and territory trees decorated with ornaments designed by students that are unique to each tree. Schools managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education and the Department of Defense Education Activity also participated in the display for the first time this year.

The National Christmas Tree lights turn on around sunset each evening and turn off promptly at 10:00 pm Sunday-Thursday and 11:00 pm on Friday and Saturday.

Audience watches musical performers at the National Christmas Tree
Performers during the 2015 season.


National Christmas Tree Music Program

Due to COVID-19-related public health concerns, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation will not host 2021 National Christmas Tree music program this year. Please check back next fall for more information about 2022.

Last updated: July 29, 2022

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