After last year’s ceremony was closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, the lighting of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is back to commence the most wonderful time of the year.
After making a 140-mile trek from Maryland, the tree, a Norway spruce, arrived in New York City on Nov. 13, but it will be lit up for the first time on Wednesday. Thousands of people are expected to congregate in Midtown Manhattan to witness the 89th annual tree lighting ceremony.
Here’s what you should know about the festivities.
When is the Rockefeller Center tree lighting?
The lighting of the Christmas tree will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and will air live as part of the NBC special “Christmas in Rockefeller Center.”
This year’s preshow celebration, which will be hosted by NBC 4 New York’s Natalie Pasquarella and David Ushery, as well as Mario Lopez of “Access Hollywood,” will begin at 7 p.m.
Then the “Today” show anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin and Al Roker will take over hosting duties for the main event, which starts at 8 p.m.
How can I watch the tree-lighting ceremony?
If you’re hoping to watch the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in person, it’s open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.
But if you’d rather stay in your home than brave the cold temperatures, you can catch the special on NBC or its streaming platform, Peacock.
Both streaming services offer free trials and have live TV and DVR options, so people can view the parade in real time or later.
Who is performing at the event?
In past years, there have been live performances by famous singers and the Radio City Rockettes.
This year is no different. The Rockettes will hit the stage along with a slew of performers who include Carrie Underwood, Mickey Guyton, Harry Connick Jr., Brad Paisley, Alessia Cara, Norah Jones, Rob Thomas and the Broadway cast of “Come From Away.”
What is there to know about this year’s tree?
Last year’s tree received plenty of criticism from social media users who thought that its appearance was unusually scraggly. Some people saw it as the perfect metaphor for how unruly the year 2020 was.
This year’s tree, an 85-year-old Norway spruce that is 79 feet tall and weighs nearly 12 tons, hopefully will go over better with the public. It hails from a farm in Elkton, Md.
Crews worked nonstop to wrap the tree in more than 50,000 multicolored LED lights. A three-dimensional star, which weighs around 900 pounds, features 70 spikes covered in three million Swarovski crystals, and was designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind, will serve as the cherry on top.
How can I visit in person?
The tree won’t only be ready for its close-up on Wednesday night. Daily viewing hours will continue after the lighting ceremony from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. The tree will be lit for 24 hours on Christmas Day, and on New Year’s Eve it will be lit from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
What streets will be closed?
As foot traffic picks up around the holiday season, New York City officials announced some street and lane closures to temporarily increase pedestrian space around Rockefeller Center.
Both 49th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues will be closed to all car traffic between 11 a.m. and midnight daily.
Two lanes of traffic will be eliminated on Fifth Avenue between 48th Street and 52nd Street, and no turns onto 47th, 49th or 51st Streets will be allowed.
One lane of traffic will be eliminated on Sixth Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets.