Close your eyes for a second. Imagine you’re standing at the base of 100-foot spruce, dark green needles full and puffed out around all sides. Now imagine that tree wrapped in 300,000 energy efficient LED lights and a 9.5 foot wide, 550 pound Swarovski star perched on top. Next, imagine that tree in the middle of RockefellerCenter in Midtown Manhattan, ice skaters at the nearby rink twirling circles, holiday music crooning against the backdrop of New York City at Christmas time.
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony has been an honored tradition and one of New York City’s most celebrated events for over 80 years. This year, the tree lighting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, December 4th, but now is the time to make arrangements to attend.
With each passing year, more and more people are crossing this event off their bucket lists, which can make Rockefeller Center get pretty crowded fairly quickly. If you’re planning on attending the event this year, NYCTrip.com thought to offer some tips to make the best out of this truly enchanting experience.
When attending the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, keep in mind:
- Arrive very early to get a good viewing spot, and expect to stand for several hours. Rockefeller Center closes to pedestrian traffic in the late afternoon.
- Dress warm! December in NYC can get very cold. Bundle up in your parkas, break out the fleece gloves and scarves.
- Check the weather before arriving. If there is rain or snow in the forecast, bring an umbrella and other weather-appropriate items.
- Avoid driving. There is mass transit available to RockefellerCenter, and streets surrounding the event are subject to close the evening of the ceremony.
- When in the Plaza, you can view the NBC festivities, which is telecast from the ice skating rink below, on a huge jumbotron TV attached to 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Close your eyes again. You’re back at Rockefeller Center, the tree is about to be lit, but this time it’s raining, it might even start snowing—not to mention you’ve been standing outside for hours on end. You’re tired, your feet hurt, your nose is frostbite-cold, and you’re starting to really regret that extra large soda you had on the way in. Even magical events have their miserable moments.
Why brave the cold when you don’t have to? Why not try for something a little more Christmas-time picturesque? If you’d rather ditch the parka and dress to impress instead, there are warm, indoor special events centered around the famed tree lighting ceremony—like NYCVP’s own Rockefeller Tree Lighting Party. You can choose to start your evening with an elegant 3-course dinner at Brasserie Ruhlmann, or just wait until the party starts to enjoy hor d’oeurves, an open bar, music, dancing and a live television broadcast of the NBC Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting special. It’s an event you’re sure to never forget, but just in case NYCVP also provides a professional photographer available to take your picture with the tree as the backdrop.
It doesn’t get much more “iconic NYC” than the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, and it’s enough to be the highlight of any Christmas vacation. After all, there’s nothing quite like the holidays in New York City.
If you can’t make it to the big event, the tree will remain erected through January 7th. After the first official lighting on December 4th, the tree is illuminated daily from 5:30AM until 11:30PM. On Christmas, the tree will be lit for a continuous 24-hours, and on New Year’s Eve the lights are turned off at 9:00PM in anticipation of the New Year’s Ball Drop in Times Square.