Union Station is one of Washington, D.C.'s most stunning attractions any time of year, but when it's decorated with Christmas wreaths and colossal trees, it's like something out of a Harry Potter movie.
This isn't an average train station. Not only is it one of the busiest transportation hubs in the U.S., but it's also one of the most magnificently designed. A brilliant example of neoclassical architecture, this place draws in everyday passengers and tourists alike. There's even an upscale shopping mall inside.
During the holidays, shoppers flock to the stores inside Union Station and are treated to some of the best holiday decorations in town as an added bonus. Don't miss the special holiday train display in the West Hall or centrally-located tree, gifted to the people of Washington from Norway.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
The season kicks off with a Tree Lighting Ceremony, which takes place at 6 p.m. in early December (date TBA for 2020), in the Main Hall (don't worry, you cannot miss this tree). The tree acts as a symbol of the friendship between the U.S. and Norway, who donates it to Union Station yearly. It's a token of the Scandinavian country's gratitude for the help they received during and after World War II. This has been a Washington, D.C., tradition since 1997.
During the tree lighting ceremony, the Ambassador of Norway, Wegger Chr. Strommen, lights the massive Christmas tree and the Children of the Gospel Choir sing familiar carols. The String Queens—a local, all-girl trio—will be performing at the event, too. After the tree is lit, it is then decorated with hundreds of custom-made polar bear ornaments. A visit from Santa Claus is always the highlight of the evening.
Important Information About Union Station
Union Station is a transportation depot as well as one of the largest shopping venues in the nation's capital. It is located at 50 Massachusetts Avenue Northeast in Washington, D.C., and has a Metro stop on the Red Line. The historic building is located north of the Capitol Building and northeast of the National Mall, within walking distance of the many famous landmarks that are dotted around the nation's capital.
Union Station is the headquarters of Amtrak, MARC Train (Maryland Rail Commuter Service), and VRE (Virginia Railway Express). Retail hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. The station will be closed to the general public nightly from midnight to 5 a.m., but commuters can still access the station with their transportation tickets.
Parking is available on-site in a parking garage with more than 2,000 spaces, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additional parking can be found nearby at other famous landmarks as well as a limited number of metered street parking spots.