/ The DC Traveler
Washington DC — By Jon Rochetti on November 30, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Lighting the National Christmas Tree

The 2009 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is to many, the official opening of the holiday season to many residents in Washington, DC.  

National Christmas Tree in Washington DCJoining the famous tree illuminated that will be lit for the first time by President Obama when he flips the switch, are Christmas trees from each of the 50 states and each of the U.S. territories along with the Walk of Peace and the Yule log. And don’t miss the traditional model railroad that surrounds the base of the tree.

Tickets to the Christmas Tree lighting are required, and don’t expect to be able to crash this event! Even if you are the star of of reality television show. 

Several thousand tickets were distributed for the event, but to join in the fun you can watch the Christmas Tree lighting and festivities online or on Public Television starting at 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, November 3, 2009.

After the ceremony, the grounds will be open to the public daily until 11:00 p.m.  Holiday musical performances by choral groups, choirs and dancers are held each evening on the Ellipse Stage across from the tree.  Performances start at 4:00 p.m on weekends and 6:00 on weeknights and run until 8:30.

White House & National Christmas Tree in Washington DC President Calvin Coolidge was the first U.S. President to start the tradition of lighting a national Christmas tree dating back to 1923.  The first tree, a 48-foot Douglas fir, was decorated with 2,500 red, green and white electric bulbs, a novelty at that time. 

This year’s tree is three times more energy efficient than previous displays due to the exclusive use of new special retrofitted LED lights retrofitted into the 500 sets of twinkling lights and 125 lighted ornaments.

Using more eco-friendly lighting on public Christmas trees and holiday displays is becoming more popular, including on the official Christmas tree in Sydney, Australia.

2009 National Christmas Tree
The Ellipse across from the White House
1600 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC‎  (map it)

Dates and Times – Daily through January 1, 2009.

Admission - FREE, except for the official lighting ceremony.

Nearest Metro Subway Station – Metro Center, Federal Triangle and McPherson Square, then a short walk to the Ellipse, or use the DC Circulator bus.

Parking – Limited metered street and paid garage parking is available.

Images – FlickrNational Christmas Tree, National Christmas Tree with White House

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