How to be a part of the National Christmas Tree Lighting

Performers at the 2021 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Presidents Park in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy National Park Service)

The 100th lighting of the National Christmas Tree at President’s Park in D.C. is scheduled for Nov. 30. If you’ve always wanted to be a part of the national holiday event, here’s what you need to know.

The National Christmas Tree lighting is a tradition that began in 1923 during President Calvin Coolidge’s administration and is one of the ways our nation’s capital rings in the holiday season. The ceremony and event will feature music performances and speakers from around the nation.

You can read a history of this D.C. tradition on the National Park Service’s website.

This year, the lighting will take place on Nov. 30. Space is limited for the ceremony, so the park service will be distributing free tickets via an online lottery. You can sign up for this lottery beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m.

The lottery closes a week later on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. To sign up, visit or call 877-444-6777. Those who get the coveted tickets will be notified on Nov. 8.

Two days after the official lighting ceremony, on Dec. 2, the park will open to the public and remain open until Jan. 1. There, the public can see the National Christmas Tree and walk the Path of Peace — featuring 58 trees decorated by states, territories and schools managed by the Bureau of Indian Education and the Department of Defense Education Activity.

The Path of Peace features Christmas trees decorated by citizens from every state and territory in the U.S., as well as the District and Puerto Rico. (Courtesy National Park Service)

Trees on the Path of Peace will be adorned with handmade ornaments from Americans in every U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia. Here are some of the special ornaments made for the 2021 holiday season.

CBS will air a special broadcast of the National Christmas Tree Lighting at 8 p.m. on Dec. 12.

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
2021 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Presidents Park in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy National Park Service)

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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