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National Christmas Tree and the Pageant of Peace 2011

December 1, 2011 - January 1, 2012

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The National Christmas Tree

The National Christmas Tree

© tldagny via Flickr

Since 1923, the United States has celebrated the tradition of lighting a National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. Each year, a tree stands proudly outside the White House in Washington, D.C. and when the President flips that switch, it is illuminated with lights. People from all over the country visit our nation's capital to witness the historic and festive event. It has been a long-standing tradition, dating back to 1923 when Calvin Coolidge presided over the first public celebration of the Christmas holidays with the lighting of a National Christmas Tree.

In 1954, 56 small, decorated trees were planted surrounding the National Christmas Tree to represent all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia. It was called a "Pathway of Peace." were planted surrounding the National Christmas Tree. The tradition continues today with sponsoring organizations from each state providing tree decorations. And the Christmas season begins in early December with the Pageant of Peace - a month of exciting activities and events, including the lighting of the tree.

The Lighting of the National Christmas Tree and Pageant of Peace is celebrated every year at the White House. But if you are wondering why this has to do with national parks, you may be surprised to learn that the White House is in fact a unit of the National Park System. It was transferred to the National Park Service (U.S. Department of the Interior) on August 10, 1933.

Check out the details below for this year's National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace!

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony 2011

Date: December 1, 2011
Time: Pre-lighting show begins at 4:30 p.m. Gates open at 3 p.m. and ticket holders must be in their seats by 4:30 p.m.
Location: The Ellipse near The White House
Getting There: 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 highlyrecommended.
Tickets: Tickets have already been distributed via lottery. For questions regarding your own ticket, call 877-444-6777
View: Watch the ceremony LIVE online beginning at 4:30 p.m. (EST). The National Christmas Tree Lighting will also be made available to television viewers on PBS stations across the country. Check your local listings for broadcast times.

2011 Performing Artists

During the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, famous entertainers and a military band will perform, and the President brings a message of peace to the nation and the world.

Television and radio personality Carson Daly will host the 2011 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. In addition, the platinum selling band OneRepublic will perform along with country music star Rodney Atkins and six-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Marsha Ambrosius. Guests will also be excited to learn that the evening will feature a special appearance by Kermit the Frog, star of The Muppets, along with several other special guests.

Visit the National Christmas Tree All Season!

After the official lighting on December 1, visitors can view the National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace each evening from dusk until 11 p.m. through January 1st. Other seasonal displays, including a large-scale model train and a manger, will also be displayed. Musical performances by volunteer choirs and dancers are held nightly on the Ellipse stage from 6-8:30 p.m. Weekend performances begin a little earlier from 4-8:30 p.m.

After last year's success, the kids can look forward to another display of Santa's Workshop! Children can meet Santa at select times. Call 202-208-1631 for more information.

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