This season's Christmas tree displays include trees made from feathers at a historic home in Indianapolis, a thank-you tree in Boston sent from Nova Scotia, and the Obamas' first National Christmas Tree ceremony in Washington.
The National Christmas Tree is scheduled to be lit on Dec. 3. Details of this year's ceremony have not been released yet, but traditionally the president and his family preside. Tickets have already been distributed by lottery to nearly 10,000 people, but the tree stays lit through Jan. 1 with free performances nightly. The tree is located less than a block from the White House.
Also in Washington, the Capitol Christmas Tree goes on display on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol near Constitution and Independence avenues. The tree comes from a different state every year, and this year an 85-foot blue spruce from Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest becomes the first tree from that state to fill the role. The tree is scheduled to be lit Dec. 8 by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
In Indianapolis, the President Benjamin Harrison Home hosts a Victorian-themed Christmas, Nov. 20-Dec. 30. Decorations at the 1875 Italianate home will include a half-dozen feather trees, based on a German tradition popular in that era. The trees are made from white and dyed-green goose feathers wrapped around wires and shaped like small trees, according to curator Jennifer Capps.
The home will also have a replica of the tree the Harrisons had in the White House in 1889. "They were the first family to have a decorated Christmas tree in the White House," she said. The original decorations included wooden soldiers, and the Harrison home in Indianapolis has been inviting children who visit to create soldier decorations for the tree there for 40 years.
In Boston, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree every year as thanks for disaster aid from Massachusetts following the Halifax Explosion in 1917. This year's tree will be lit on the Boston Common Dec. 3.
The Rockefeller Center tree, a 76-foot Norway spruce, will be decorated with 30,000 lights and lit Dec. 2. You can see it any time until Jan. 7. The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was put up in 1931 by workers building the complex during the Depression, and the first official tree lighting there was in 1933.
A fir tree from Northern California decorated with more than 10,000 lights and 15,000 ornaments will be lit at The Grove in Los Angeles on Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The attraction stays up through the first of the year. An enormous Santa and sleigh, designed to look like Santa's sailing through the night sky with the tree behind him, are part of the decorations.
In Houston, the 24th annual Uptown Holiday Lighting includes a half-million lights on 80 trees along Post Oak Boulevard, with fireworks at the opening ceremony Nov. 26. Also in Houston, the Downtown Holiday Spectacular kicks off Thanksgiving Day with a holiday parade and a weekend of activities that includes the Nov. 28 opening of the ice skating rink at Discovery Green and a nighttime illuminated art car parade along Avenida de Las Americas, also on the 28th.
Honolulu City Lights, which includes a tree, wreath displays and gingerbread houses, kicks off Dec. 5 and lasts a month. Opening night festivities typically draw 75,000 people. Later in the month, on Dec. 13, the 24,000 runners taking part in the Honolulu Marathon will run right past the Christmas display at Honolulu Hale, which is the name of the City Hall there.
Christmas at Biltmore, in Asheville, N.C., is a tradition that goes back to Christmas Eve 1895. That's when its owner, George Vanderbilt, officially opened the massive home to friends and family. This season's holiday display at the estate, which is a National Historic Landmark, features dozens of decorated trees and runs through Jan. 3.
In Riverside, Calif., The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa offers its annual Festival of Lights Nov. 27-Jan. 3, with 3.5 million lights, carriage rides and Santa visits. The elaborate lighting display has turned the inn into a must-see attraction for the holidays in Southern California. Tens of thousands of people attend the lighting ceremony each year and many more come through the grounds before the festival ends The lights depict toy soldiers, elves, swans, Santa and many other symbols of Christmas.
Arkansas showcases a trail of holiday lights around the state in six regions and dozens of communities, with details here. But Arkansas' most famous lighting display is now in Florida, at Disney's Hollywood Studios. A lawsuit forced Jennings Osborne to stop putting up his massive home lighting display in Little Rock in 1994, but Disney brought the display to Disney World, where visitors can see it lit up every night except Nov. 22, through Jan. 4, from dusk to when the park closes.
Chicago's 96th annual tree-lighting ceremony takes place Nov. 25, at Daley Plaza. A Christkindlmarket inspired by the centuries-old Nuremberg Christmas market in Germany opens there that day as well.
In Atlanta, the 62nd lighting of Macy's Department Store's Great Tree takes place Nov. 26 at the Lenox Square Mall.
Springfield, Mass., hosts the drive-through Bright Nights in Forest Park Nov. 25-Dec. 6, with colorful light displays depicting a Victorian village, Peter Pan, Noah's Ark, and an American flag among other things.
In Des Moines, Iowa, the city hosts a nighttime drive-through lighting display called "Jolly Holiday Lights" at Water Works Park, Nov. 24-Jan. 2. With a three-mile route, it's the state's largest light display and it benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The Oglebay Resort & Conference Center in Wheeling, W.Va., hosts the Winter Festival of Lights, Nov. 13-Jan. 3. Oglebay says it is one of the nation's largest such attractions, covering more than 300 acres on a six-mile drive. Favorite displays from past years include the Snowflake Tunnel, a candy cane wreath, and a poinsettia wreath and candle.
In Idaho, the Coeur d'Alene Resort decorates a 161-foot-tall living tree, which the resort claims is the tallest living Christmas tree, decorated with ornaments that are 10 feet tall. A holiday light show at the resort includes 1.5 million lights on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Nov. 27-Jan. 1.