WASHINGTON, D.C. --A star-studded lineup featuring Mariah Carey, the Avett Brothers, Train lit up the stage at Friday evening's National Christmas lighting, just south of the White House.
The First Family illuminated the Christmas tree on the Ellipse at 5:15 p.m., ushering in a performance of "Joy to the World" by Aretha Franklin.
The festivities kicked off with a 4:30 p.m. preshow. Actress and comedian Jane Lynch hosted the ceremony.
But for the members of opera trio Forte, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"A few months ago, we were on 'America's Got Talent,' and we were just kind of normal guys trying it out," said Forte's Josh Page. "And now we're on this bill with Mariah Carey and Janelle Monáe and Aretha Franklin, and we're performing for the president, and it's entirely surreal."
Official White House Christmas Tree Arrives First Lady Michelle Obama paired up with Sesame Street's Abby Cadabby to read "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
Tickets for the 3,000 seats and 14,000 standing-room spots were made available through a lottery earlier this fall. Only ticketed guests can attend, but you can view the event through livestream on this page.
President Barack Obama said in his remarks at last year's ceremony that the tree -- which has been replaced twice after the long-standing National Christmas Tree was felled by high winds in February 2011 -- was a symbol of rebuilding and strength.
"In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we've always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle," Obama said. "But our tree has been having a hard time recently. ...Just goes to show, nobody's job is safe here in Washington."
Changes to the annual celebration last year included a new stage location to better showcase the White House behind it, a new color scheme for the tree, and, of course, the tree itself.