WASHINGTON — One of the most controversial opinions this time of year is when it's appropriate to start getting in the holiday mood. Some put a ban on all carols and holiday movies until after Thanksgiving, and others say December is the official season kick-off.
Of course, there's always a Scrooge or two who refuses to acknowledge the most wonderful time of the year, ever.
But here in D.C., it's officially the holidays once the National Christmas Tree gets lit, and Thursday is that day.
Sure, you'll freeze your tail off and traffic will be a nightmare with road closures, but the thousands of twinkle lights illuminating the Ellipse in President’s Park should put a smile on even the Scroogiest of faces.
This year, the star of the show -- aka the National Christmas Tree -- is a rookie. A 30-foot Colorado blue spruce from Palmyra, Pa will be lit for the first time on Dec. 5. The tree was planted in D.C. in late October and has been cared for by National Park Service since. This has been the tradition since 1973.
The previous tree, a Colorado blue spruce from Virginia, was planted in 2012, but it was damaged last year when a man tried to climb it.
The tree has been lit by the sitting president every year since Calvin Coolidge lit a 48-foot Balsam Fir from Vermont on Christmas Eve in 1923.
Fifty-six trees decorated with handmade ornaments surround the National Christmas Tree representing all U.S. states and territories.
The main event starts at 5 p.m., and performers include Jessie James Decker, Spensha Baker, Colton Dixon, Max Impact, Chevel Shepherd, Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, The United States Marine Band and West Tennesse Youth Chorus.
Roads closed from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- 17th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and Independence Avenue, SW
- C Street between 17th Street and 18th Street, NW
- D Street between 17th Street and 18th Street, NW
- E Street between 17th Street and 18th Street, NW
- F Street between 17th Street and 18th Street, NW
- G Street between 17th Street and 18th Street, NW
- New York Avenue between 17th Street and 18th Streets, NW
- Constitution Avenue between 18th Street and 14th Street, NW
- 15th Street between H Street and Madison Drive, NW (Traffic will be allowed to flow south on 15th Street from Madison Drive)
- Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th Street and 15th Street, NW
- E Street between 14th Street and 15th Street, NW
- F Street between 14th Street and 15th Street, NW
- G Street between 14th Street and 15th Street, NW
- New York Avenue between 14th Street and 15th Street, NW
Parking will be limited in the area, and attendees are encouraged to use public transportation. The Farragut North and West Metro stations are closest to the event. The entrance will be on 17th Street NW across from E Street NW.
The current weather forecast for Thursday shows a mostly sunny, breezy day with highs between 46 and 51.
The lights can be seen through Jan. 1 2020 from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Free 30-minute concerts and dance performances take place on the Ellipse stage Dec. 11-15 and Dec. 17- 22.