Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, falling on December 1 this year, is an annual fanfare that follows the lighting up of a Christmas tree placed at the Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, in mid-November and lit during a public ceremony on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. Fun fact: The tree lighting ceremony is broadcast each year on N.B.C. and is usually lit by the Mayor of New York City.
History of Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
The first Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was erected in 1931, by construction workers at the center, who pooled money to buy a Christmas tree and decorated it with ornaments that their families made, to celebrate Christmas.
Two years later in 1933, the first official tree was erected in continuation of that event, and since then, it has been an annual tradition to erect a Christmas tree on the Rockefeller Plaza.
The annual ceremony that follows the lighting of the Christmas tree, usually by the sitting Mayor of New York City, is attended by dignitaries, celebrities, and tourists from around the world and is often broadcast on the N.B.C. news channel to millions of people watching from home and around the world.
The lighting often begins on the Wednesday following Thanksgiving, with preparation starting earlier in November, from transporting the chosen tree from its harvest location to the plaza where scaffolding is erected around it to aid workers in hanging about 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and the much-adored crystal star top on it.
Traditionally, the trees erected for the event have always been from New York and its surrounding states and are usually donated. But recently, the trees have come from as far as Ohio, brought to the center in one of the largest cargo planes available.
The plaza’s Head Gardener, Erik Pauzé, is often responsible for scouting for the desired tree in upstate New York and surrounding states, and the assessment of the ones submitted for consideration to the center through its website.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting timeline
Construction workers at the Rockefeller Center set up the first Christmas tree in December 1931, decorated with garlands handmade by their families.
The Rockefeller Center makes the Christmas Tree an annual tradition and holds its very first tree lighting ceremony in December of the same year.
The Rockefeller Center erects its largest Christmas tree in its Christmas tree lighting ceremony, with a tree standing at 100 feet tall and brought from Killingworth, Connecticut.
Following the tragedies of September 11, 2001, the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree for the year is decorated in patriotic red, white, and blue, as a mark of respect to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting FAQs
Where is the Rockefeller Center tree from?
The tree is shipped from various parts of the country. The 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree came from Oneonta, New York, and it’s a 75-foot-tall Norway Spruce that is 45 feet wide, weighs 11 tons, and is between 75 and 80 years old.
What date is the Rockefeller Tree Lighting 2021?
The 2021 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting is on December 1, 2021. For up-to-date, first-hand information on the 2021/2022 Tree, sign up for the Rockefeller Center newsletter: https://www.rockefellercenter.com/the-center-newsletter.
How much does the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Cost?
Price may carry from year to year, but many sources agree that the total cost, including the ornaments, the LED lights, and the tree itself, is roughly $73,000.
How To Observe Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Attend the lighting ceremony
What better way to experience and observe the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting than to attend the event? Witness performances by top singers and bands that have in the past included Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, and Dolly Parton.
Watch it live on TV
You can also watch the lighting ceremony on N.B.C., to observe the holiday. The lights are switched on at 9 pm after live performances by top singers and bands across the U.S.
Talk about it on social media
Share your experience about attending the event on social media to get people excited about the festive season. Use the hashtags #rockefellercenter, #rockcenter, or #rockefellerplaza.
5 Things You Should Know About Rockefeller And Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Its star has over 3 million crystals
The three-dimensional Swarovski star that stands on top of the tree weighs approximately 900 pounds and features 70 spikes covered in 3 million crystals.
It’s a century-old tradition
The 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony was the 88th observance of the event.
It inspired a children’s book
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is alleged to be the inspiration behind "The Carpenter’s Gift," a children's book written by David Rubel and illustrated by Jim LaMarche.
The Christmas Tree is donated after the ceremony
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for 2020, continuing a longstanding tradition, was donated to “Habitat for Humanity," for use in building homes.
John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company was the largest oil refiner in the world at its height and is regarded as one of the world's first and largest multinational corporations before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was an illegal monopoly.
Why We Love Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
We get to watch top artists perform live
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is usually followed by a series of performances from artists and bands across the U.S. We get to watch these amazing performers live!
Its star and LED-lit ornaments
The Christmas tree’s LED-lit star ornament is no doubt one of the many reasons tourists flock, from all over the country, to witness the ceremony. We love it!
The skating rink
Oh, the skating rink and how gorgeous the Christmas tree looks from there! This is probably the most fun way to observe the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting dates