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Get Free Tickets to the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Published by Josephine Lucks

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Tickets to the lighting of the national Christmas tree are free but will be available only to those who enter the lottery beginning, Friday November 5. The lighting is sponsored by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s National Parks. To enter the lottery, individuals should go to the website beginning at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Friday, November 5. For the other time zones the lottery begins on Thursday, November 4 at 11:01 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST), 10:01 p.m. Mountain Standard Time (MST) and 9:01 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST).

The lottery will be open through Sunday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. EST (10:59 p.m. CST, 9:59 p.m. MST and 8:59 p.m. PST). Those who do not have a computer may phone 877-444-6777 or (for TDD) 877-833-6777 beginning Friday, November 5 and ending on Sunday, November 7.

Number of Tickets Available

Three thousand (3,000) tickets will allow spectators to be seated for the lighting of the national Christmas tree and 10,000 tickets will be standing room only. The standing room only tickets will have an unobstructed view of the national Christmas tree but a limited view of the staged program that is part of the lighting ceremony. However, a large screen will show the staged program for viewing by the audience.


Starting November 10th (Wednesday) those who entered the lottery can see if they were chosen for tickets by going to the official website. Those persons who entered by phone and had their names chosen will be notified by United States Postal Service mail. Tickets will be mailed by Monday, November 15.

The ceremony begins at 5 p.m.on Thursday, December 9 on the Ellipse in Washington. The national Christmas tree lighting ceremony began in 1923. The Colorado blue Spruce that is the national Christmas tree now has been on the Ellipse since 1978. In Washington that tree was first lit by President Jimmy Carter and his daughter Amy.

Specifics of the Current National Christmas Tree

It was planted on the Ellipse after a search outside Washington for a suitable tree. Previous live trees planted as the national Christmas tree had not survived long. The Colorado blue spruce now on the Ellipsewas found in York, Pennsylvania at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Myers by National Park Service tree specialists. They were searching outside of Washington for a tree that would thrive in the soil and climate on the Ellipse in the nation’s capital. They examined the tree in York and concluded that it appeared strong and would probably thrive inWashington. It was also the shape and size they wanted.

The granchildren of Mrs. Myers had planted the tree in her yard as a Mother’s Day gift when it was six years old. When it was 15 years old and 30 feet tall, the Myers family decided to donate the tree that the National Park Service so admired to the nation. Today it is almost 42 feet tall.

The lighting ceremony kicks off four weeks of entertainmentat the site. The tradition of nightly entertainment at the site dates to 1954.

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