The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has taken its rightful place in Midtown. This year, a 75-foot tall, 11-ton Norway Spruce from Oneonta, N.Y. will serve as the centerpiece for the famous event. Donated by Daddy Al’s General Store, the approximately 80-year-old tree last week was cut down, hoisted by a crane, and delivered by flatbed truck to Manhattan on Saturday. The public cannot attend the tree lighting ceremony this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the live event will be broadcast nationally on December 2.
The Norway Spruce is craned onto a flatbed truck in Oneonta, NY. The tree was brought into New York City by flatbed truck and erected at Rockefeller Center on Nov. 14th. Photos: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer
“This year, we just feel the tree is vital,” Rob Speyer, president and CEO of Tishman Speyer, said in a press release. “The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree always represents the holiday season, but it has also stood tall as a symbol of hope, resilience, and New York’s enduring spirit, from the Great Depression to 9/11, Superstorm Sandy through today. 2020 has been a difficult year, but New Yorkers have persevered, and we are determined to come back better and stronger.”
This year’s tree will feature more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights across nearly five miles of wire. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind in 2018, the 900-pound star measures 9 feet, 4 inches, and is covered in three million Swarovski crystals.
The tree lighting at Rockefeller Center has been a holiday tradition since 1933, with each year the tree more ornate and embellished than the last. Because of the ongoing health crisis, the 88th tree lighting ceremony will not be open to the public and instead be televised on NBC. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is craned into place. Photos: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer
While the tree typically draws 750,000 visitors daily during the holiday season, it’s unclear how the attraction will be open as the city continues to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Tishman Speyer, the lit tree will be open for visitation daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. and for a full 24-hours on Christmas Day. More details about visiting the tree will be released in the coming weeks.
During a press briefing last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said extra measures will be taken this year, but did not offer any specifics. “I think people understand that we have to be really careful with the danger of a second wave, but we’re going to take extra precautions to make sure that if people are trying to go by to see it, that we can keep it to the right number of folks at any given time,” de Blasio said.
The ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center will be open for an abbreviated season this year, starting on November 21. The rink will open a month later to give more time to restaurants currently using the plaza for outdoor dining, and it will close earlier than normal on January 17 to begin work on a major revamp that was approved by the city in April.
- The Rockefeller Center ice skating rink will only be open for two months this year
- The history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, a NYC holiday tradition
- Free outdoor sculpture garden opens at Rockefeller Center
All photos by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer
Editor’s Note 11/16/20: A version of this post was originally published on November 11, 2020, and has since been updated.