Enjoy an in-depth Cathedral tour followed by traditional English tea with sandwiches, scones, and a scenic view of Washington.
Tour and Tea is offered every Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:30 pm, with the occasional holiday exception. The tour begins inside the nave, directly through the west entrance on Wisconsin Avenue. Tea follows at 2:45 pm in the Pilgrim Observation Gallery. The cost is $30 per person, and reservations with payment are required in advance. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards and checks are accepted.
Co-sponsored by Cathedral Visitor Programs and the All Hallows Guild.
Cathedral Highlights Tours
Cathedral Highlights includes all of the must-see features of the Cathedral, and provides the perfect introduction to the history, architecture, and artwork of the WAshington National Cathedral for first-time visitors and returning friends.
Angels have been represented in art, literature, and film for centuries. These messengers have intrigued artists and viewers throughout history. This tour seeks angels in the myriad ways they appear throughout the Cathedral. See angels expressed in the Cathedral artsstained glass, needlepoint, woodcarving, and stonecarving.
The beauty of Washington National Cathedral is the result of the work of many artisans, from stonecarvers to needlecrafters, from woodcarvers to stained glass artists. This tour focuses on examples of the many works of art that make the Cathedral unique. Take an in-depth look at stained glass, needlepoint, woodcarving, and stonecarving, and how they fit into the magnificent structure of Washington National Cathedral.
Cherry Blossom Tea
Experience springtime in our nations capital with a regular Cathedral Highlights tour followed by a special and festive tea in the tower to celebrate the beauty of cherry blossoms in bloom.
The Cathedral Gardens comprise thirty of the fifty-nine acres of the close and reflect the Gothic style of cloister gardens from the Middle Ages. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., the Cathedral gardens serve as home to countless perennials, herbs, and native plants. In case of inclement weather, a garden slide presentation is available inside, and the gardens can be viewed from the vantage point of the Pilgrim Observation Gallery.
Join our gargoyle experts for an introduction to the history behind these humorous, frightening, and biographical carvings. The tour features a slide show of gargoyles, stories of their creation, and a chance to see these funny and sometimes frightening creatures on the Cathedral. Bring your binoculars. (This tour is offered 23 times a year. For information on other Gargoyle Tours independent of the Tour and Tea Program, please see the Gargoyle Tours page.)
What are the basic elements shared by any Gothic building? Why is Gothic so well suited to religious structures? Through the Cathedrals soaring walls and exquisite carvings, visitors explore the Gothic style and its unique characteristics, purposes, and building methods.
Throughout the Cathedral, people practicing the healing arts are depicted in needlework, bronze, stained glass, and carved stone. From Jesus performing miracles to Florence Nightingales transformation of the nursing profession, tour participants explore the fascinating stories told in these varied works of art.
Celebrate the Christmas season with this special nativity tour. Focusing on depictions of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus throughout the Cathedral, youll see the Christmas story told in stone, wood, needlepoint, and stained glass. The tour culminates in a visit to Bethlehem Chapel, the oldest part of Washington National Cathedral.
Needlework (AKA Painting with Yarn)
There are over 1,500 pieces of needlework in the Cathedral, portraying historic Americans, floral patterns, baby animals, and many other work painstakingly done for the Glory of God. This tour reveals how the exquisite treasures of needlepoint convey messages throughout the Cathedral.
Olmsted Woods Tour
Native PlantsIn the Woods and in Your Garden. Join us as we learn more about the native plants growing in the Olmsted Woods and how you can use them in your own garden.
Patriots at the Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral is unique among the great cathedrals of the world in that it tells stories from American history and speaks of the American perspective. Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush have visited the Cathedral and it reaches out through its mission as a national house of prayer for all people. Patriots at the Cathedral explores depictions of patriots, statesmen, and heroes from George Washington to the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.
Service and Sacrifice
Examine iconography in Cathedral sculpture, stained glass, and needlework that pays tribute to many significant events in our nation’s history and honors those who have served and sacrificed for their country. The tour also chronicles members of the military who were instrumental in the planning and creation of the Cathedral.
Join us for an introduction to the Cathedrals brilliant stained glass windows. Learn how the windows tell their stories, and what stories they tell (you might be surprised!).
Why does Saint Peter carry keys? What does it mean when a carved figure is holding a palm leaf? What does a fleur-de-lis represent? The Cathedral is a giant picture book depicting our nations history and values, and stories of Judeo-Christian faith. Learn to read the Cathedral through the symbols in stone, glass, iron, wood, and textiles.
Women in Glass and Stone
Where else can you see Joan of Arc and Eleanor Roosevelt in one place? Women of great influence are to be found in the statuary, needlepoint, and stained glass of the Cathedral. Hear their tales and look upon the faces and symbols of these revolutionary thinkers, visionaries and saints.
A rare opportunity to explore often overlooked details in the Cathedrals splendid wood rails, choir pews, and other furnishings featuring birds, animals, and a few surprisesincluding a snake with a mustache.
Master blacksmith Samuel Yellin called wrought iron the salt and pepper of architecture. Explore the magic of wrought iron in the Cathedralfrom fantastic creatures to stunning flowers, all unique and made by skilled hands. A wrought iron expert will explain techniques and talk about some of the master smiths who have contributed to the decoration of this great building.