The National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony takes place each year on the grounds of the Ellipse, south of the White House. With musical performances, and a message of hope and peace, this event kicks off the annual National Christmas Tree program, which runs until January 1st.
In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas Tree on the grounds of the Ellipse. Every year, we continue that tradition, with the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. In 1954, 56 smaller trees were planted around the National Christmas Tree, representing the 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia. Each year, these trees are decorated by organizations from every state.
The National Christmas Tree Program continues until January 1st and is free to the public. The trees and their decorations are the main attraction, but the program also includes musical performances, a model train, and Santa’s Workshop. All trees are lit from dusk until 11 pm. Musical performances are performed weeknights between 6 pm and 8:30 pm, and weekends between 4 pm and 8:30 pm. The model train runs from 11 am to 11 pm. Santa and his elves are in the workshop at select times throughout December.
The 96th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 28, 2018.
Free tickets will be awarded through an online lottery, which opens at 10 a.m. EDT on October 18 and closes at 10 a.m. EDT on October 22, 2018. To enter the lottery visit www.recreation.gov and click the ‘TICKET LOTTERY’ link. Those without computer access may call 877-444-6777 to enter the lottery. Lottery winners will be notified on October 29, 2018.
For more information, or to watch the live webcast, visit: www.thenationaltree.org.
*Photo source: Recreation.gov
The National Christmas Tree Lighting
Hours: Program begins at 5 pm. Gates open at 3:30 pm, ticket holders must be in their seats by 4:30 pm.
Trees are lit daily until January 1st from dusk to 11 pm.
Admission: Tickets are available by lottery in October or early November for the lighting ceremony. After the lighting ceremony the attraction is free.
Parking: No on-street parking is available by the White House. Visitors are strongly urged to use public transportation. Limited parking is available along Constitution Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets on evenings and weekends.
Metrorail: Federal Triangle on Orange and Blue lines; Metro Center on Orange, Blue, and Red lines; McPherson Square on Orange and Blue lines.