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Art Walk - Holiday Market and National Christmas Tree

At our next Art Walk event we will celebrate the festive holiday season with a walk around DC, exploring the Downtown Holiday Market and the National Christmas Tree.

Art Walk event
Art Walk event
Art Walk is our regular event series, where we walk through the different parts of DC, Maryland and Virginia, taking photos, as we explore art, architecture, culture and history while having a fun time outdoors.

The Holiday Market and National Christmas Tree

We will start our Art Walk at the Holiday Market and then complete our annual tradition of visiting the National Christmas Tree near the White House.

Live music at the Holiday Market
Live music at the Holiday Market
Celebrating its thirteenth year, the Downtown Holiday Market has one of the most spectacular outdoor shopping environments in the region, featuring more than 150 regional artisans and boutique businesses of ethnically produced goods.

There is also festive music and delicious treats available for sale besides the many handcrafted goods that are a great choice for holiday and Christmas gifts.

We will then walk to the National Christmas Tree an annual tradition that we have been doing for a few years.

As we enjoy the festivities and the walk around the Downtown Holiday Market and the National Christmas Tree, we will also compete for the best photo that captures the spirit of the holidays, the downtown market and the festive decorations around the National Tree.

Brief History of the National Christmas Tree

The tradition of decorating the national outdoor Christmas tree goes back to 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse south of the White House, and 'pushed the button' to light the Christmas tree, which came to be known as the National Christmas Tree.

The first Christmas tree was a cut 48-foot tall balsam fir, donated by Middlebury College, in Vermont.

National Christmas Tree and the White House
National Christmas Tree and the White House
The idea of a decorated, outdoor national Christmas tree originated with Frederick Morris Feiker a highly educated engineer who had been a technical journalist for General Electric from 1906-1907 and later a press aide to Herbert Hoover while Hoover was the secretary of commerce.

The Society for Electrical Development an electrical industry trade group was looking for a way to encourage people to purchase more electric Christmas lights and use electricity, so Feiker suggested the idea of an outdoor Christmas tree, and that President Calvin Coolidge personally light the tree as a way of giving Christmas lights prominence and social prestige.

From 1924 to 1953 live trees, in various locations around the White House grounds, were lit on Christmas Eve.

National Christmas Tree
National Christmas Tree
In 1954 the ceremony returned to the Ellipse and expanded its focus including the month-long festivities known as the Pageant of Peace. A cut tree was used because Park Service officials felt that a living tree would interfere with the various cultural and recreational events on the Ellipse at other times of the year.

Smaller live trees representing the 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, formed a Pathway of Peace.

Cut trees continued to be used until 1973. Today, the living National Christmas Tree, a Colorado blue spruce from Virginia planted in 2012, which replaced a previous tree from New Jersey, is a reminder of the holiday spirit and the festive tradition since 1923.

Light Snacks and Drinks

You can buy some light snacks and drinks for yourself at the downtown holiday market.

After the event, we can break into smaller groups and get coffee, drinks or food depending on individual preferences.

Competition Rules

Take as many pictures as you would like but only upload two of your best photos for the Art Walk contest. Both the photos must be uploaded after completion of the Art Walk.

  • Our judges, some who will be nominated from among our members will then judge the best photos and the overall winner. We will feature the best photos on our website and the winner will receive our award.
  • The criteria for judging will be based on the artistic creativity,  uniqueness of the photo composition and picture framing besides having a stimulating effect. The photo must also capture the theme specified in the contest.
  • A winner for the best photo will be announced three days after the Art Walk by our judges. The winner can pick the prize at any of our future Art Walk events.
  • The winner will be invited as our guest, for our next Art Walk event.

During the event we will allocate a time frame for stopping at different locations before we continue with our walk.

Photography is more importantly an art of composing the story of an interesting moment and sharing your artistic creation with others.

The most important thing is to have fun enjoying the outdoors and the interesting company of our diverse group of participants.

Getting There

The Holiday Market is located on the F Street sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery between 7th & 9th Streets, NW. We will meet at the entrance of the Portrait Gallery. The stage for the band is usually set up to the right of the entrance.

The closest metro is the Gallery Place Metro on the Green, Red and Yellow Lines.

A Brief Plan of our Art Walk Event

This is our planned schedule for the Art Walk event, though some of the allocated time periods for our activities could change.

4:30pm to 4:40pm - Meet and greet our event participants near the entrance of the National Portrait Gallery.

4:45pm to 5:15pm - Explore the market and take photos. Participants are encouraged to explore the market on their own, or in small groups.

5:15pm - Regroup again in front of the music stage next to the entrance of the National Portrait Gallery.

5:20pm - 5:45pm - Get coffee, holiday treats or snacks at the market and socialize with other participants and listen to music.

6:00pm - Walk to the National Christmas Tree

6:15pm - Enjoy the festivities around the National Christmas Tree.

Event Details


Description: Explore the Downtown Holiday Market and the National Christmas Tree as we compete for the best photo for our Art walk contest.

Date/Time: Sunday December 17th, 2017 4:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Admission: $2 for covering the cost

Meeting Place

4:30 pm - Downtown Holiday Market (Entrance of the Portrait Gallery)
8th St NW & F St NW Washington, DC 20004

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