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.
Watch the National Christmas Tree Lighting
The 2019 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was Thursday, December 5. Watch the 2019 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony online.
Get Tickets to Attend
Tickets are required to attend this event and are awarded through an online lottery. The lottery for the 2019 ceremony closed on October 21.
Watch the Show
The 2019 National Christmas Tree lighting airs on December 9.
Hundreds of volunteers give their time each year to support this event. Find out how you can get involved!
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.
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: December 20, 2019