The Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting is an annual event that officially marks the start of the holiday season.
This year, the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will be lit by Speaker of the House John A. Boehner on Tuesday December 2 at 5:00 p.m.
The Christmas tree lighting takes place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol at Constitution and Independence Avenues. The security entrance is at First Street and Maryland Avenue SW and First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. These spectacular trees are flown each year in from various forests around the U.S — this year’s White Spruce hails from the Chippewa National Forest in Cass, Lake Minnesota. The Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting has been an annual tradition since 1964; visitors can see the tree lit up each evening from sundown until 11 p.m. until the first of January.
Some trivia: the Capitol Christmas Tree is different than the National Christmas Tree (these are often confused with each other). The National Christmas Tree is planted each year near the White House and the annual lighting ceremony is hosted by the First Lady.
After attending the Christmas Tree Lighting, enjoy a yummy cup of hot chocolate! We have a few favorites in that department. (Would you expect anything less?) The Sweet Lobby (404 8th St SE) on Barracks Row serves delicious macaroons and cupcakes as well as a delicious European-style hot chocolate. Fun fact: this famed local bakery was featured on the Food Network’s Cupcake wars. If you don’t want a traditional hot chocolate, try an Affocato at Kafe Leopold (3315 Cady’s Alley NW) in Georgetown. This delightful drink is two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and espresso topped with a Breton cookie. If you are the kind of person that doesn’t always like it hot, give Co Co. Sala (929 F. Street NW) a shot. This chocolate boutique lounge and restaurant knows their chocolate and has a host of chocolate specialty drinks. We love the option of either hot or frozen chocolate drinks which include dark chocolate, salted caramel and even chipotle. Feeling adventurous? Try a cocoa cupcake chaser: a chocolate cupcake injected with your choice of liqueur!