Washington DC: Holiday Season

The Holiday season in Washington, DC was marked this week by the lighting ceremony for the National Menorah on Tuesday, December 16th.  The ceremony for the National Christmas Tree was held earlier this month and I took the opportunity of the good weather last night to check out the scene.

xmas white house tree 2014

National Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

XMAS National Menorah 2014

National Menorah

Both are on the Ellipse, just south of the White House.  There isn’t a lot of parking in the immediate vicinity, but it’s a short walk from the Farragut West Metro Station.

20 thoughts on “Washington DC: Holiday Season

    • Yes, the tree is essentially cloaked with a lightweight fabric of netting held taut by thin cables. The 60,000 lights are LEDs (to save energy). The tree is live, but things have not gone well in recent years. In 2011, a storm so damaged the tree it had to be replaced. The replacement was dead within a year. Another was installed in 2012. The smaller trees that you see in the picture each represent one of the United States. In the past, they were decorated with different styles, each having something unique about the state they represented. Now there is greater uniformity and the LEDs have a synchronized light show during the evening. You can’t tell that, of course, with a photograph. The U.S. Capitol has a tree as well, but it is quite different. I hope to do a post on that one soon.

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      • 60,000!!!!! Wow! Yes, LED’s are great for energy saving 🙂 I suspect the light show is quite spectacular but yes, hard to show that in a photograph. I think I just like seeing the natural shape of a tree! It’s certainly a very impressive display 🙂

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    • That’s pretty funny, but probably not for a couple reasons;-) The designer was Robert Mills and his original design pre-dated light bulbs as well as airplanes which are the reason for the red lights. But now that they are there, our imaginations can conjure up all kinds of cool analogies.


    • Thanks very much for your comments. if you can go on a weekday you may have a little better luck with the crowds. I was shooting about 10-20 minutes after sunset to get that twilight blue. Sunday is the Solstice, so that will be the shortest day of the year and the sun sets at 4:49 PM EST. If that is the time you want, get there about 15-20 minutes sooner and scout out your location. There is a spot (which I used in this image) on the south side of the tree (looking toward the White House) that has a fence where you can get a good view of the tree and the White House. The fence prevents people from walking right in front of you. Another good angle is on the opposite side of the tree, with the Washington Monument in the background. If you can, use a tripod and keep the aperture small so you can maximize the depth of field. Good luck! Hope you get a great image.


  1. Oh we really loved visiting the Washington Mall area when we lived in Alexandria, VA. It’s so quiet and beautiful to walk around (we would take the Metro so we didn’t have to worry about parking). It’s one of the few things I miss about the east (don’t miss the crazy amount of snow we had just before we moved to CA though). Lovely images. 🙂


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