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National Christmas Tree and the Pageant of Peace 2013

A Washington, DC Christmas Tradition

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National Christmas Tree and the Pageant of Peace 2013

National Christmas Tree

Photo © Terry Adams/National Park Service

Since 1923, the United States has held a tradition of lighting a National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC. In 1978, a live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was transplanted from York, Pennsylvania to its present site on the Ellipse, the grassy area south of the White House. In 1954, a "Pathway of Peace," 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia were planted surrounding the National Christmas Tree. Read about the history of the National Christmas Tree. Each year sponsoring organizations from each state provide tree decorations that are encased in a protective plastic globe to shield it from the weather. The lighting of the National Christmas Tree is the beginning of a three week Washington, DC Christmas tradition.

See a Photo Gallery of the National Christmas Tree

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Date: Friday, December 6, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. The event is held rain or shine.

Tickets: Free tickets were distributed through an online lottery. The lottery is now closed. 

During the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, nationally known entertainers and a military band perform and the President brings a message of peace to the nation and the world.

2013 Entertainment Lineup

  • Grammy award-winning superstar Mariah Carey
  • Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Lynch
  • Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin
  • The Avett Brothers
  • Grammy award-winning violinist Joshua Bell
  • Acclaimed soprano and musical ambassador Renée Fleming
  • Multicultural operatic trio Forte
  • Nolan Williams, Jr.
  • Voices of Inspiration
  • jazz legend Arturo Sandoval
  • singer/songwriter Janelle Monáe
  • Latin music superstar Prince Royce
  • Multiplatinum, Grammy-winning band Train

Visit the National Christmas Tree Throughout the Holiday Season

The National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace will be open to January 1, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Seasonal displays include a Yule log, a large-scale model train and a Christmas manger. Tickets are only required for the lighting ceremony. Musical performances by volunteer choirs, bands and dancers, will be held nightly from Wednesday, December 11 through Sunday, December 22, 2013. Tuesdays to Fridays, performances will generally start at 5 p.m. and end by 8:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, performances run from 1-8:30 p.m. Santa's Workshop will be open Monday, December 9 – Tuesday, December 24 during the following times: Monday to Thursday: 4:00-6:30 p.m. and 7:00-9:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday: 12:30-4:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m., Christmas Eve: 11 a.m.–3 p.m.


Location: The Ellipse near The White House
The closest Metro stations to the White House are Federal Triangle, Metro Center and McPherson Square. Parking is very limited in this area, so public transportation is recommended. See a map of the White House and the Ellipse

Parking Near the National Christmas Tree

Parking is extremely limited near the National Christmas Tree. Limited parking is available along Constitution Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets after 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day on weekends. The best way to get to the area is by metro. The closest stops are Metro Center, Federal Triangle, and McPherson Square. Read more about parking near the National Mall

See also, Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia

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