2018 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting: What You Need to Know Before You Go

What to Know

  • NBC will broadcast “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” from 7 to 10 p.m.
  • Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, John Legend, Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge and more are set to perform
  • The tree will be lit every day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. until Jan. 7., except for Christmas Day, when it will be lit around the clock

UPATE: Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lights Up for 2018 Holiday Season (Watch the Video Here) 

The Rockefeller Center tree is set to be illuminated Wednesday in a festive ceremony, but spectators should expect some security restrictions, be aware of street closures and prepare for cold and blustery weather.

NBC 4 will broadcast “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” from 7 to 10 p.m.

WATCH LIVE: Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

Crowds are expected to form in the late afternoon and police say drivers should expect heavy traffic and avoid the vicinity of Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Police also say the following roads will be subject to closures from 3 p.m. until after the lighting ceremony:

  • 48th, 49th, 50th, and 51st Streets between Avenue of the Americas and Madison Avenue
  • 47th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue, and 52nd Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue.
  • 48th to 51st Street between Avenue of the Americas and Madison Avenue
  • 47th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue
  • 52nd Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue

Spectators are urged to use mass transit to attend the event. Umbrellas, backpacks, large bags, coolers and alcoholic beverages are prohibited, police said.

Screening areas are located at 48th, 49th and 50ths Streets at 5th Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. All spectators attending will pass through a security screening and spots are first come, first served.

The tree's lights will be illuminated every day from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. through January 6 and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on January 7, 2019.

On Christmas Day, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for a full 24 hours.

[[234461101, C]]

Throughout the night, there will be performances from a star-fueled lineup, including Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, John Legend, Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, Martina McBride, Pentatonix Kellie Pickler and Howie Mandel. 

The 86th annual holiday celebration will feature a 72-foot tall Norway spruce from Wallkill, New York. The spruce is 75 years old and weighs 12 tons. The tree will be wrapped in five miles of multi-colored lights and topped with a brand new star made of three million Swarovski crystals.

After the tree is taken down January 7, it will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

Follow NBC 4 on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photos from the lighting ceremony.

Here are some historical facts about the Rockefeller Center Tree:

• 1931 – Construction workers building Rockefeller Center put up a Christmas tree, the first-ever Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

• 1933 - First formal Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree was decked with 700 lights in front of the eight-month-old RCA Building.

• 1936 - Two trees, each 70 feet (21.3 m) tall, were erected. For the first time the Lighting Ceremony included a skating pageant on the newly opened Rockefeller Plaza Outdoor Ice Skating Pond.

• 1942 - Three trees were placed on Rockefeller Plaza, one decorated in red, one in white and one in blue to show support for our troops serving during World War II.

• 1949 - The tree was painted silver, to look like snow.

• 1951 – The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit for the first time on national television on the Kate Smith Show.

• 1966 - The first tree from outside the United States was erected. It was given by Canada, in honor of the Centennial of its Confederation. This is the farthest distance a tree has traveled to Rockefeller Center.

• 1980 - For the 50th Anniversary of Tree Lighting, a 70 foot-tall (21.3 m) Norway Spruce came from the grounds of the Immaculate Conception Seminary of Mahwah, N.J. Bob Hope participated in the Lighting.

• 1999 – The largest tree in Rockefeller Center history, 100 feet tall (30.5 m), came from Killingworth, Conn.

• 2004 – The Swarovski-designed star became the largest star to ever grace the tree.

• 2007 – For the first time, the tree was lit with energy-efficient LEDs. They draw a fraction of the power that had been traditionally required by the tree, reducing energy consumption from 3,510 kwH to 1,297 kwH per day, saving as much energy as a single family would use in a month in a 2,000 square foot (185.8 m²) home. Hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller Center buildings help power the new LEDs.

Contact Us