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Christmas at the White House

Updated: September 1, 2023

This post covers all of the ways you can celebrate Christmas around the White House in Washington, DC and has been updated for 2022.

For more ideas on what to do during the holiday season in our nation’s capital, be sure to check out our Christmas in DC--Holiday Lights and Markets post.


The White House is very active during the holiday season and is beautifully decorated to celebrate Christmas.

White House Christmas Tours are available throughout the month of December (though any tour can be canceled at any time without notice) when visitors are given the opportunity to see how the public rooms have been festively decorated.

The White House has very limited public tours in December- you can still however see the White House decorations and National Christmas tree on your own or on our Downtown Holiday Lights tour. (We offer a walking tour AND a bus tour!)

Tip: In addition to planning a White House Christmas Tour, check out our free, self-guided tour of the White House area and Lafayette Park!


Free, public tours are available for US and foreign citizens for White House Christmas Tours.

Self-guided tours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (excluding federal holidays or unless otherwise noted) and revolve around the White House schedule.

These tours are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis and can be obtained through contacting your US Member of Congress up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance of requested tour date. Foreign visitors are encouraged to contact their Embassy in order to secure a White House tour.

For all of the other information you need on visiting the White House for a Christmas tour including a virtual White House tour and information on the White House Visitor Center (where you can purchase the official White House 2018 Christmas ornament!) make sure to check out our master post on Visiting the White House. 

INSIDER TIP: If you cannot get a reservation in advance, you may try to get a Congressional Member's Pass distributed monthly by the White House Visitors Office. 


For a sneak peek, you can look at the 2017 Program for the White House Christmas Tours.

  • East Wing and Movie Theatre - here you'll get a glimpse of the family recreation option in the Movie Theatre, only opened for the first time on this public tour for 2017. In the East Wing, you'll also see the collection of official Christmas Cards sent by past First Families, a tradition started in 1953 under President Eisenhower.
  • Library - a personal favorite of ours, keep an eye out for President Teddy Roosevelt's personal copy of Dickens' A Christmas Story which he read here to his family during the holidays.
  • Vermeil Room and China Room - a festive display of gifts from around the world and centuries and the china dinnerwear that served those who brought them.
  • East Room - this is the largest of the rooms, and the one historically used for entertaining - which began during the Christmas season under President John Adams.
  • Green, Blue, and Red Rooms - From local artisans to the official White House Christmas Tree, and a collection of sweet treats, these are some of the most popular stops on the tour!
  • State Dining Room - Do you like gingerbread houses? This is where you'll find the traditional White House gingerbread house but don't try to taste it, even though it is made by the White House pastry chefs it is not for eating!
  • Grand Foyer - For your final stop, this sparking room marks your exit from the White House with a musical backdrop of patriotic and holiday music.

AND DON'T FORGET .... you can take photos on White House tours! Celebrate the holiday season with this festive and unique thing to do in Washington DC!


Getting to the National Christmas Tree

Located on the Ellipse section of the President’s Park on the south side of the White House, the National Christmas is easily accessible by Metro Rail. The nearest stations to the tree are McPherson Square or Federal Triangle (both Blue/Orange/Silver lines).  

You can use this Google map for directions to the tree.

Tip: The National Christmas Tree is on the way to our tour starting point! Our National Mall Tour starts a block away from the Ellipse, so this is a perfect thing to do before or after joining us on a tour.


Visiting the National Christmas Tree is always free and welcoming to people of all ages!

The tree will be lit daily from dusk to 11pm (though the walkway is closed at 10pm Sun-Thur) yet the tree is always open to visitors if you are unable to make it in the evening when it is lit up.


Surrounding the National Tree are 56 additional smaller pine trees; one for each US state, territory, and the District of Columbia. This year, there are 56 schools from across the country who are participating in decorating one-of-a-kind ornaments to adorn each tree.

For more information on the ornaments and a list of participating schools, click here.

The National Christmas Tree and its lighting have been a holiday tradition since 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge was in office. Be sure to read more about the tree’s colorful history here.

Tip: While visiting the National Christmas Tree don’t miss the adjacent National Menorah! More information is available here.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | I'm a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. I have written for HuffPost Travel and have been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. I've also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. I am the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. I am an authority on D.C. history, and have led tours in the city since 2011. I currently resides in DC, but have also lived in London and South Korea, and have traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. I homeschool my 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC. Read More...
Updated: September 1st, 2023
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