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 will decorate the tree and a variety of other trees in congressional offices in Washington, D.C. 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 2019 tree will be harvested from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico.
The Capitol Christmas Tree should not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, which is planted near the White House and lit every year by the president and first lady. The Speaker of the House officially lights the Capitol Christmas Tree.
Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
In 2019, the tree will be lit by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on December 4 at 5 p.m. on the West Lawn. 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.
The best way to get to the area is by metro and 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.
After 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 Carson National Forest
The Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting is a time to put a spotlight on one of the country's treasured forests and a different state is selected every year. The Carson National Forest is located in northern New Mexico and consists of 1.5 million acres of mountain vistas and year-long recreational activities from fishing, hunting, skiing, and camping. There are over 500 miles of trails that can take you to some of the most stunning viewpoints in the forest.
This year's tree 60-foot tall and 68-year old blue spruce. The tree cutting ceremony takes place on November 6, 2019, in Red River, New Mexico and from there, the tree will travel from the Carson National Forest to D.C., arriving on November 25. Along the way, the tree will stop at over 25 communities where well-wishers will have a chance to grab some goodie bags full of New Mexico products and sign the banners that hang on the side of the truck.