Evening commute affected by National Christmas Tree lighting closures

The road closures for the annual National Christmas Tree lighting on the Ellipse are in place until 8 p.m. Thursday, and commuters are being warned about the event’s traffic impact.

Delays are severe every year, and they tend to ripple out far beyond the streets near the White House and National Mall that are closed all afternoon.

Taking Metro, MARC or Virginia Railway Express trains — or simply waiting out the worst of the traffic — can be the best ways to avoid traffic jams.

From about 1 p.m. until about 8 p.m. Thursday, the following roads will be closed:

  • 17th Street is scheduled to be closed between Independence Avenue Southwest and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest;
  • 15th Street Northwest is scheduled to be closed between Constitution Avenue
  • H Street Northwest (north of New York Avenue Northwest).
  • Constitution Avenue Northwest is also scheduled to be closed between 18th and 14th streets Northwest, D.C. police said.

Those streets will also have emergency no parking rules posted from about 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The entrance for people with tickets to the event is on 17th Street NW near E Street NW. McPherson Square, Farragut North and Farragut West are the closest Metro stops.

Anyone entering the security checkpoints for those with tickets is not allowed to bring pets, large backpacks, bikes, weapons, folding chairs, lighters or selfie sticks. Strollers are allowed, but will be searched.

This is the 97th year for the tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse, where the lights are typically flipped on by the president and first family. The ceremony starts at 4:30 p.m.

Performers include Jessie James Decker, Spensha Baker, Colton Dixon and Chevel Shepherd, plus the United States Marine Band and Max Impact, the Air Force’s rock band.

It is the first year the current 30-foot Colorado blue spruce is in place on the Ellipse. The previous tree had been in place for about seven years before being replaced.

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