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.
Audience and the National Christmas Tree
National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, 2014

NPS / M. Reese

Watch the National Christmas Tree Lighting


The 2019 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be Thursday, December 5.

Get Tickets to Attend

Tickets are required to attend this event and are awarded through an online lottery. The lottery for the 2019 ceremony opened at 10 a.m EDT on October 15 and will close at 10 a.m. EDT on October 21.

Watch the Show

Watch the 2018 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony online!


Hundreds of volunteers give their time each year to support this event. Find out how you can get involved!

Pathway of Peace, 2012
Pathway of Peace, 2012

NPS / A. Garrison

Pathway of Peace

How to Visit

The Pathway of Peace site is free to visit and open to the public December 9, 2019 through January 1, 2020. Hours are 10:00am-10:00pm Sunday-Thursday, and 10:00am-11:00pm Friday and Saturday.

What to Expect

The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with hand made ornaments that are unique to each tree.

The National Christmas Tree lights turn on at approximately 4:30pm 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

Application to Perform

Please visit the music program webpage for application information.

Attend a Performance

Nightly music and dance performances take place on the Ellipse stage December 11-15 and December 17-22. These 30 minute performances are free and open to the public.

Last updated: October 18, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1849 C Street NW
Room 1426

Washington, DC 20240


(202) 208-1631

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