New York City is noted for being ablaze with light and color for the holidays, but there's no place like Rockefeller Center - and its famous Christmas tree!
Traditionally lit on the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving, watch for the annual tree lighting to be officially scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, November 28, 2018 with a special televised ceremony and live performances on NBC from 8 - 9PM ET.
The world's most famous tree -- located at Rockefeller Center between West 48th and West 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues -- will remain lit into the New Year until 8PM on Sunday, January 6, 2019.
All about the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree
When the center was under construction in
1931, the first Rockefeller Center Christmas
tree was raised by workers in a holiday
tradition that continues to this day.
At Christmas, millions of tourists are drawn to the midtown Manhattan location as first-time visitors catch their first breathtaking glimpse of the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Framed by the center's Promenade, where bedazzled angel figures trumpet the arrival of Christmas, the world's most famous Christmas tree is usually harvested in November by Rockefeller Center workers. They traditionally scout out locations within a 50-mile radius or more from New York City to find the current year's prime specimen.
The tree they pick is usually a Norway spruce, about 70 - 100 ft. tall. After being transported to the city with great fanfare, the tree is hoisted into place and prepared for days of decorating in a central location overlooking the Rockefeller Center ice rink.
Scaffolding is put up around the tree to assist workers in putting up 30,000 lights attached to 5 miles of wiring. The scaffold is then removed just in time for the grand lighting ceremony that traditionally occurs on a Wednesday evening the week following Thanksgiving .
Throughout the holiday season, the tree is lit from early morning to about 11 PM daily. The tree is finally taken down the week after New Year's Day. In the spirit of the season, it then is donated to a charitable organization to be milled into lumber to help in the construction of housing for a needy family.
Directions to Rockefeller Center
Located at 50th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, Rockefeller Center's central midtown Manhattan location is easy to get to by public transportation:
By subway: F, B, D or Q trains to 47-50 Streets-Rockefeller Center stop; the 6 train to 51st Street; or the 1 train to 50th Street.
By bus: From Fifth Avenue, take the M1, M2, M3, M4 or M5 bus to 50th Street; or from Broadway take the M6 or M7 bus. Exit at 50th Street and walk east to Rockefeller Center.
DID YOU KNOW? Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Fun Facts
The .5 million star of the show.
• was erected in 1931 construction workers who helped build the famous complex amidst the Great Depression. A makeshift affair, the 20-foot balsam fir was decorated with only tin cans and paper garland.
• Today, the 550-pound Swarovski star that sits atop the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is made of 25,000 crystals, 720 LED bulbs, 44 circuit boards, and 3,000 feet of wire. The Christmas tree star is estimated to be worth .5 million.
• The tallest Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was a 100 ft. foot spruce from Killingworth, CT, erected on November 11, 1999.
• Every year, approximately 750,000 people visit the unofficial "national Christmas tree" to enjoy even more area attractions such as Radio City Music Hall, The Top of the Rock observatory, and St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
What else to see and do - in and around Rockefeller Center:
Besides the world famous Christmas tree, a visit to Rockefeller Center might include
a twirl around the ice rink, a stop at St. Patrick's Cathedral, window shopping at Saks
Fifth Avenue, and visits to NBC studios, , and Radio City Music Hall.
The main entrance to the complex, visitors stroll toward the famous Christmas tree via the Promenade, which is traditionally decked out for the holidays with trumpeting angels and lush evergreens.
Straddling either side of the Promenade are shops offering world class shopping at fashion designer Michael Kors' flagship store, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gift Shop, Crabtree & Evelyn, Teuscher Chocolatier, and more.
Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink
Of course, no trip would be complete without a glide around the ice at the world famous skating rink in the shadow of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!
Small in size compared to other skating areas around the city, this 'boutique' rink holds a maximum of 150 people, so be prepared to wait on long lines, especially during holiday season weekends.
Admission: Check the website for the most current information. Adult admission is typically -14 and children are .50-8.50. Skate rentals and private lessons are also available. Hours: Monday - Thursday 9:00am - 10:30pm; Friday - Saturday 8:30am - Midnight; Sunday 8:30am - 10:00pm
Top of the Rock
Heading west to '30 Rock' (the GE Building) discover the entrance to the Top of the Rock observatory on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. The six-level observatory features both outdoor and indoor viewing areas to take in breathtaking vistas of the and Central Park.
Radio City Music Hall
Traveling further west to Sixth Avenue, this venue for headline shows and concerts during the rest of the year becomes the home of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular during the holidays. Check out the traditional eye-popping performance featuring the world famous Rockettes, and get your tickets early as they sell out fast! Ticket prices range from for the third mezzanine seats to well over 0 for the front row.
More about Rockefeller Center around the Web:
- Check out the official site, complete with helpful information on what to see and do, where to shop and eat, with opening hours, applicable admission prices, related maps and directions, event calendar, photos.
- Trip Savvy guide tells you when to see it, how to get there, plus fun facts and information, with related feature stories on other top NYC Christmas attractions around town.
- Read the complete history of the complex including overviews of its art and architecture, the underground shopping concourse, the GE Building, related photo gallery, references and resources.
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