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What You Need to Know to Prep for the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

Travel Tips | Jim Werner | December 1, 2019 | Homepage

So you want to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Join the club, or rather the crowds as the Rock Center tree spectacle clogs the plaza and Fifth Avenue sidewalks starting December 4, when the official tree lighting ceremony goes down. The famed New York City tree will remain lit and on display on the plaza between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues through Friday, January 17, 2020.

The giant Norway Spruce cut from the tiny upstate village of Florida, New York is already upright in Rockefeller Plaza — it’s actually been there since November 9, but you’d barely know it from all the scaffolding surrounding the site.

If you’ll be in Manhattan on December 4 (like us!) and want to soak up a bit of that Miracle on 34th Street-style, wholesome holiday spirit, here’s the details you need to know:

87th Annual Tree Lighting

  • Starts at 7pm, but arrive much much earlier. (Pro tip: plan on arriving at Rockefeller Center around 3 p.m., but no later than 4 p.m., to secure a good view.)
  • Actual tree lighting will happen around 9pm with performances set to end at 10pm.
  • Those performances include skaters on the ice rink, the Radio City Rockettes, an appearance by Idina Menzel and some serenading from People’s 2019 *Sexiest Man Alive* John Legend.
  • It’s all free and cameras are welcome, but it will be very shoulder-to-shoulder crowded.
  • The closest subway stop is 47-50th Street/Rockefeller Center with the B/D/M/F trains, but that will also be the busiest with highest security. (Pro tip: Use 5th Ave/53rd St on the M/E or just walk south down 5th Avenue from the 5th/59th Street stop on the Q/N/R.)

Curious as to how nice the tree will look once it’s unveiled? Check out snaps from holidays past and keep up with the Christmas tree throughout the season where else but on Instagram: @rockefellercenter

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And let’s be honest, that’s pretty darn gay.