National Tradition: Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace



The annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Pageant of Peace will kick off the holiday season on Thursday, December 3, at 5:00 pm on the Ellipse of the White House. An elaborate four-week program follows, continuing through Friday, January 1.
The tree lighting ceremony, first started in 1923 under President Calvin Coolidge, begins each year’s National Christmas Tree Program and includes entertainers, a military band and a presidential message of peace to the nation and the world. Free tickets to this ceremony were distributed through a new lottery system for the public last month.
The seasonal displays will feature the Christmas Pathway of Peace—the National Christmas Tree and 56 smaller ones from each US state, territory and DC; the National Christmas Tree Railroad, model trains that surround the base of the National tree; and Santa’s Workshop. The trees will be lit each evening at dusk until 11:00 pm; the trains will run from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. The workshop will open at select times to allow children to visit with Santa.
Free musical entertainment will be featured nightly through December and will include volunteer choirs, bands and dancers. Weeknight performances will run between 6:00 pm and 8:30 pm and weekend shows between 4:00 pm and 8:30 pm.
The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation sponsor this annual event. For more information, visit