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The National Christmas Tree Lighting Will Not Host an Audience This Year

The annual ceremony will go applause-free due to Covid-19.

The national Christmas Tree in 2012. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony will forgo a live audience for an online-only event this year, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation announced. The 98th annual celebration is Thursday, December 3, and the lineup of performers is still TBD. The lights will be up throughout the month, and the show will be available to stream on-demand during the holidays. The annual traffic jam caused by the celebration is also unlikely to occur.

Thankfully, it will be President Trump’s final tree lighting show. In recent years, the concert lost the star power that the set list used to bring under President Obama. Instead of spotlighting the “who’s who” of entertainment, the performer list has more folks asking, “who’s that?” Everyone can agree that Aretha Franklin’s 2013 performance was more memorable than last year’s headliner, Jessie James Decker. (Do you need to Google her? So did we.)

It’s almost unfair to name all the celebs who celebrated the Christmas tree lighting with Obama. Patti LaBelle, Chance the Rapper, the Avett Brothers, Janelle Monaé, Black Eyed Peas, Ellie Goulding, Jason Mraz—the list goes on. Big names from the show’s Trump years include the Beach Boys (basically Mike Love, who wore a hat that read “Mike Love”), Wynonna, and Antonio Sabàto Jr. Can we get back to show-stoppers? If Joe Biden has any Obama-era sway, let it be in choosing the lighting ceremony lineup.

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Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.