One of two annual holiday specials produced by George Stevens, Jr. (the other being the Kennedy Center Honors), the variety show first aired in 1981 on NBC before moving to its current home on TNT in 1998. Recorded in Washington, D.C. at the National Building Museum, on the second Sunday of each December before being re-edited for later broadcast, Christmas in Washington is a one-hour concert featuring artists from musical genres. Each guest perform at least one solo, but the marquee performer usually has one or two more songs. The show also has at least one guest from the world of opera. Each of the musical performances are backed by a full orchestra and chorus. The show's finale consists of a medley performed by all the musical guests before the attendees-of-honor, the President of the United States and the First Lady, make a closing statement.
The show also has a host. For many years, the show was hosted by Dr. Phil and his wife, Robin. However, since 2009, the show has had a single host. The 2013 edition featured Hugh Jackman as host and The Backstreet Boys as marquee performers, marking the first time in six years that a group has been featured as marquee performers. The show airs live on pay-per-view internationally and in most major cities, after which a re-edited 42-minute version (with commercials in a one-hour slot) airs on the aforementioned TNT network.