Since 1923 during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, the tradition of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony has taken place on the Ellipse on the first week of December. Nationally known entertainers and artists and a military band perform and the President and First Family light the tree and share a Christmas message to the country and the world. It is then followed by the Pageant of Peace where throughout December, visitors can view the tree and the "Pathway of Peace" of 56 smaller, uniquely decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and Washington, D.C. and listen to free evening performances by local and volunteer choirs, bands, and dancers.
Free tickets for the ceremony are distributed only by online lottery. More information on performances and visiting hours can be found on the National Christmas Tree website.