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Arts & Culture

The National Christmas Tree Lighting 2011

The National Christmas Tree is illuminated during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. The White House is visible in the background.
Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
The National Christmas Tree is illuminated during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. The White House is visible in the background.

Airs Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 6 p.m. on KPBS TV

Interactive Timeline

Explore American history through the story of a favorite holiday tradition - the lighting of the national Christmas tree.

Decorate Your Own Christmas Tree

Create and decorate your own Christmas tree and send it to friends and family.

Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the ceremony is a time-honored holiday tradition which includes the illumination of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse just south of the White House. Nationally known entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening during which the President is invited to bring a message of peace to the nation and the world.

With the White House in the background, the National Christmas Tree and 56 smaller trees - one for each state, five territories, and the District of Columbia - form the Christmas Pathway of Peace, which serves as the focal point of the event.

The Christmas Pathway of Peace is lit each evening at dusk until 11:00 p.m. through January 1, 2012. Each tree is decorated with unique ornaments created by an artist and volunteers from that state, territory or District of Columbia.

The seasonal displays this year will include a Santa's Workshop, sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The Workshop will be open at select times for children to explore and take a free photo with Santa.

And for the 17th consecutive year, the National Christmas Tree Railroad will provide model trains that surround the base of the National Christmas Tree. The trains will run from 11 a.m to 11 p.m. daily through January 1, 2012.

The event features Carson Daly, with performances by Marsha Ambrosius, OneRepublic, Big Time Rush, Rodney Atkins, Ellie Goulding, Kermit the Frog and more.

The full show including every performance, presenter and holiday festivity is available for online viewing.

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
First Lady Michelle Obama Reads 'The Night Before Christmas' with Kermit the Frog
2011 National Tree Lighting Promo