There’s a lot more to the National Christmas Tree than just some lights. The tree itself is certainly a sight to behold, reaching far into the sky and covered from top to bottom in lights and decorations. But, you would be remiss if you left without spending some time enjoying the other attractions around the tree, including musical and dance performances from around the country.
Surrounding the tree itself is a wide variety of model trains, including Amtrak trains and Thomas & Friends. Train-lovers can spend quite a bit of time checking out the various train scenes. Many children enjoy throwing pennies onto the flatbed cars (or trying to) so be sure to take along some change.
Lining the pathway around the National Christmas tree is the Pathway of Peace. Each state and territory sends unique ornaments to be featured on a tree showcasing what makes that state special. Many ornaments are made by children. You will see everything from mittens on the tree from Minnesota to beach scenes on the tree from American Samoa. Many parents enjoy finding the tree from where they grew up or where grandparents live and explaining the ornaments to their children. Of course it’s always fun checking out the tree from the state where you live.
For many kids, the highlight is visiting Santa’s Workshop. The first area in the workshop is Santa’s mailroom, where kids get a glimpse of letters sent to Santa and see proof that he reads them. Next are rows and rows of “the list” with names that Santa has checked twice – an x for naughty kids and checkmarks for the good ones. If you’re lucky, you may find your child’s name on the list.
Next is the workshop itself, with diagrams of toy ideas and toys in various stages of production with some that have already been wrapped. Finally there is Santa himself ready to hear what your little one is hoping for on Christmas day. The line can be long, but moves relatively quickly. Santa’s workshop is open through Christmas Eve for last-minute visits.
Visiting Santa in the shadow of the National Christmas Tree is a great experience and a great addition to your Christmas festivities.
- The National Christmas Tree Pageant of Peace is open daily until January 1, 2014 from 10am to 10pm.
- The entire display is stroller-friendly. It can be crowded at times but it’s usually possible to walk around the tree and Pathway of Peace relatively easily.
- There is street parking available near the National Christmas Tree, but you should be prepared to walk a few blocks.
- Musical entertainment happens every year from early December until the weekend before Christmas.
- Santa’s Workshop is open through December 24th.
Photos by Jamie Davis Smith.