A Capitol Christmas Tree has been an American tradition since 1964. The first tree was a live 24-foot Douglas fir planted on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The original Capitol Christmas Tree died after the 1968 tree lighting ceremony due to a severe wind storm and root damage. The tree was removed and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has provided the trees since 1969.
In addition to providing a 60-85 foot tree, thousands of ornaments designed and created by school-children across Idaho will decorate the tree and a variety of other trees in congressional offices in Washington, DC. Every year, a different National Forest is selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season. The 2017 tree will be harvested from the Kootenai National Forest in Libby Montana.
The Capitol Christmas Tree should not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, which is planted near the White House and lighted every year by the president and first lady. The Speaker of the House officially lights the Capitol Christmas Tree.
Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
The tree will be lit by the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, AIA, LEED AP, will serve as master of ceremonies.
Date: December 6, 2017, 5:00 p.m.
Location: West Lawn of the U. S. Capitol, Constitution and Independence Avenues, Washington, DC.
Access for the lighting ceremony will be from First Street and Maryland Avenue SW and First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, where guests will proceed through security. See a map
The best way to get to the area is by metro. The closest stops are located at Union Station, Federal Center S.W. or Capitol South.
Parking near the U. S. Capitol Building is very limited. See a guide to Parking Near the National Mall.
Following the lighting ceremony, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. each evening through the holiday season. As part of the Architect of the Capitol’s continuing commitment to save energy, strands of LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lights will be used to decorate the entire tree. LED lights use little electricity, have an extremely long life-span, and are environmentally friendly.
About the Kootenai National Forest
The Kootenai National Forest is located in the extreme Northwest corner of Montana and Northeast Idaho and encompasses over 2.2 million acres, an area nearly three times the size of Rhode Island. The Forest is bordered on the north by British Columbia, Canada, and on the west by Idaho. Ranges of high craggy peaks mark the Forest with Snowshoe Peak in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness at 8,738 feet, the highest point. The Whitefish Range, Purcell Mountains, Bitterroot Range, Salish Mountains, and Cabinet Mountains are all part of the rugged terrain radiating from the river valleys. The Forest is dominated by two major rivers, the Kootenai and the Clark Fork, along with several smaller rivers and their tributaries.