Picture this: 5 miles of wiring, draped around an 80-foot-tall Norway spruce – topped by a Swarokvski star. It all adds up to one very magical sight: the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting — tonight, in Rockefeller Plaza.
If you’re anywhere near NYC this evening, hurry: The tree is scheduled to be turned on just before 9 p.m. Before then, a star lineup that includes old and new acts like Rod Stewart, Cee Lo Green, Scotty McCreery, Victoria Justice, Mariah Carey, Trace Adkins, Brooke White, Il Volo and Tony Bennett will perform before thousands of spectators. Billy Crystal and Bette Midler will also make appearances.
The annual tradition at Rockefeller Center began unofficially in 1933 – the year 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened. That year, construction workers ushered in the holiday season by decorating a balsam tree with modest adornments, like tin cans and strings of cranberries. The tradition has grown bolder – and more dazzling – in the years since: Tonight’s event will feature 45,000 lights.
If you can’t make it to NYC tonight, you’ve got time: The tree will be up until Monday, Jan. 7, until the Christian feast of the Epiphany, and will be lighted every day from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. The tree is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan — that’s Rockefeller Center, situated between 48th and 51st streets, and Fifth and Sixth avenues.
Afterward the tree will be turned into lumber on behalf of Habitat for Humanity.
For more holiday travel ideas:
Check out our travel guide for Christmas in New York.
Discover the Most Christmasy Places in America.
Brush up on Holiday Tips for Family Travel.