In the middle of the hustle and bustle of busy New York City, stands an annual Christmas tradition since 1931, The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. This year, the Norway Spruce stands at 80 feet tall and weighs about 12 tons. It originated in Vestal, New York and traveled almost 200 miles to its new home in Manhattan. The tree was officially delivered on November 11th and was trimmed and decorated with 50,000 multi-colored lights and topped with a Swaorvski crystal star on November 29th during the tree lighting ceremony.
How Is The Tree Picked?
You may wonder, how is a tree picked each year? Rockefeller Center’s head gardener, Erik Pauze, scouts out trees that could be suitable for each year’s Christmas celebration. This year, he found the tree while driving through a neighborhood in Vestal, located in upstate New York.
The tree was towering over the driveway of the McGinley family. Pauze approached the family and told them his crazy idea. The McGinley’s decided to donate their tree as a service to others and to memorialize their tree. When it’s time for the tree to come down after the holiday season, the trunks are milled into beams and donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
The Tree Lighting ceremony took place on November 29, 2023 at Rockefeller Center with host Kelly Clarkson. Thousands of people attend the lighting festivities every year to see the dazzling spectacle and over the top performances.
Cher, Barry Manilow, Keke Palmer and others provided the festive soundtrack at the event, and the Radio City Rockettes helped kick off the holiday season at the tree lighting which aired on NBC.
On the tree top, a 3D Swarovski star covered in 30 million crystals twinkled in the night as the Christmas special came to a close on NBC.
Hours of Operation
According to Rockefeller Center, the tree will be lit daily from 5am-midnight until January 13th at 10:00pm. From December 15th through Christmas Eve, the tree will be lit from 5am-1am. On Christmas Day, the tree is lit for 24 hours and on New Year’s Eve it is lit from 5am to 9pm.
The Rockefeller Center ice skating rink is one of the most famous ice skating spots in the world with a brilliant view of the beautiful Christmas tree. Tickets can be purchased for The Rink and they cost $11-79 and can be purchased here.
Visitors and guests can also purchase a professional photo in front of the tree or a picture with Santa.
Over the years, the looks and decorations of the tree have changed, but it will always remain a quintessential part of the New York holiday experience.
Words by Emily Cigan @emily.cigan and Amy Harris