Everything you need to know about this year’s Rockefeller Center tree lighting

Posted On Wed, December 4, 2019 By

Posted On Wed, December 4, 2019 By In Events, holidays

Image by Michael Vadon via Wikimedia Commons

The 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has been in place for nearly a month, and it’s almost ready to get lit. The 87th annual tree lighting ceremony will take place later tonight, with tens of thousands of spectators expected for the festivities and millions more tuning in on television. The event is free to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, so read on for everything you need to know if you plan on getting a spot (or if you’d rather watch from your couch!).

Photo of Daniel Libeskind and his crown jewel during the annual star raising that took place on November 13. All photos by Angela Pham/BFA.com; courtesy of Swarovski. 

The 77 foot tall, 12 ton Norway Spruce tree came over from Florida, New York this year and will be wrapped in five miles of rainbow lights. For the second year in a row, it will be topped by Daniel Libeskind’s redesigned Swarovski star, covered in a whopping three million crystals.

A pre-show is set to begin at 7 p.m. with the actual lighting taking place around 9 p.m.  Throughout the night, there will be performances by a long list of celebrities, including John Legend, Derek & Julianne Hough, Brett Eldredge, Idina Menzel, Gwen Stefani, Lea Michele, Chicago, Ne-Yo, Straight No Chaser, Skylar Astin, and Alex Newell. The event should wrap up around 10 p.m.

Despite the late start time, you’ll need to arrive hours earlier (and with plenty of layers on) to get a decent view. The event organizers recommend arriving no later than 4 p.m. If that sounds like too much, you can tune in from the comfort of your home. The event will be broadcast on NBC beginning at 8 p.m.

With the pedestrianization of Rockefeller Center this year it should be easier than usual to get around. We always recommend taking a train (B, D, F, or M to 42nd Street, the 6 to 51st Street, the 1 to 50th Street, or the N/R to 49th Street) but if you absolutely must drive, keep the following street closures in mind:

  • 5th Avenue between 46th Street and 52nd Street
  • 6th Avenue between 46th Street and 52nd Street
  • 46th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 47th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 48th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 49th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 50th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 51st Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 52nd Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • Rockefeller Plaza between 48th Street and 51st Street

If you’d rather avoid the crowds tonight, you’ll have plenty of chances to see the iconic Christmas conifer over the next month. The lights will be on every day until January 6 from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. and for 24 hours on Christmas Day. Wondering what happens to it after the holidays? Once the tree is taken down on January 7, it will be milled and used as lumber by Habitat for Humanity.

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Neighborhoods : Midtown

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