Rockefeller’s Christmas Tree Lighting Wednesday Night: Your Guide to the Event

By Forrest Brown, CNN

It’s almost an understatement to say that the winter holiday tradition is a big deal in New York City. And after last year’s mild events, they’re an even bigger deal now.

Last week’s main attraction was Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This week, another holiday that promises to shine even brighter in 2021

It’s time for every year Rockefeller Christmas tree lightsand live festivals that start at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday and run until 10 p.m. EST

Here’s a quick look at what you need to know if you have travel there or watch on TV:

Watch the ceremony live

To see the light of the trees first-hand, head to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, aka 30 Rock.

It is part of Rockefeller Center, a complex of 19 commercial buildings between 48th and 51st streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation and New York City Police Department said Pedestrian space will be temporarily expanded on the streets around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.

Crowds are expected to be the largest in Manhattan since the start of the pandemic, and officials are encouraging residents to use public transportation.

You can get there by several metro lines and it’s a short walk: the B/D/F/M train, the 1 and 6 train, and the N/Q/R train.

If you missed the lighting ceremony, you are not in luck. The Rockefeller Tree Lighting website says the tree will be lit daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. On Christmas Day, the tree will be lit for 24 hours. On New Year’s Eve, it’s light from 6am to 9pm. The time to cut the tree has not been set.

A spokesperson for the Rockefeller Center told CNN Travel in an email that because it is an outdoor event, there are no requirements for masks or vaccinations this year.

In 2020, small groups, short viewing times, and scheduled appointments take effect as a pandemic precaution.

On television

If you can’t be there in person, you can still watch the spectacle.

NBC will broadcast the event nationwide on “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” especially. That show airs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET/PT Wednesday. Additionally, it will stream on the new Peacock streaming service. You can also catch it on streaming services with NBC.

“Today” co-hosts Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin will host the show.

NBC says performers for the special include Alessia Cara, Harry Connick Jr., Mickey Guyton, Norah Jones, Brad Paisley, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood and the Radio City Rockettes.

Interesting facts about trees

This year’s tree comes from Elkton, Maryland, and it went to the Rockefeller Center on November 13, enjoy life at 85 years old.

Annuals have a multi-layered history.

The first tree grew in 1931, when the Great Depression was sinking deep into the city (and the rest of the country). Workers who are lucky enough to have a job are lined up for their wages below it. Ceremonies around the tree became an annual event in 1933. The lighting ceremony was broadcast for the first time on national television in 1951.

The biggest tree was in 1999. It is 100 feet tall and hails from Killingworth, Connecticut. In 2001, the square was a place of solace for the city and country after the 9/11 attacks, with trees decorated in red, white and blue colors.

Besides pleasing the waves of humanity that pass each year, trees serve a more practical purpose. After being cut down in early January, the tree was donated to Habitat for Humanity and turned into wood for a home.

A few more 2021 tree tidbits from the Rockefeller Center:

– The Norwegian Spruce is 79 feet (24 meters) tall. It is 46 feet (13.7 meters) wide and weighs 12 tons.

– It has over 50,000 multicolored LEDs on approximately 5 miles (8 km) of power cord.

The Swarovski star on top weighs about 900 pounds (408 kg) and has 70 spikes covered with 3 million crystals.

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Top image: Lights await the Rockefeller Christmas tree in 2021. (Cover via AP Photo) Rockefeller’s Christmas Tree Lighting Wednesday Night: Your Guide to the Event


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