From its beginnings as a beacon of hope during the Great Depression to its patriotic adornment after September 11th, the Rockefeller Christmas tree has come to represent more than just the start of the holiday season in New York City. The lighting of the festive behemoth (almost always a Norway spruce) has come to signal the start of holiday revelry for the nation since its first television broadcast in 1951.

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting.  

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree shines brightly in front of the golden Prometheus statue at Rockefeller Center. There's a large bright start at the top of the tree.
The lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree signals the start of the holiday season © Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

Where is the tree? 

The Rockefeller Center complex spans the area between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. You’ll find the tree in the center, perched right above the skating rink. 

Where is this year’s tree from? 

This year’s Norway spruce comes from Oneonta, New York. It’s 75 feet tall, 45 feet in diameter, and weighs 11 tons. It's between 75 and 80 years-old. It will be adorned with over five miles of lights and a massive Swarovski star with 3 million dazzling crystals. 

When does the tree arrive in New York City?  

The tree arrived at Rockefeller Center on November 14. It will be nearly a month before the lights come on. 

May I see the tree lighting in person this year? 

There will be no public access to the Rockefeller Christmas tree this year. The best way to see the tree lighting this year is to watch the NBC broadcast "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" on December 2 from 7 to 10pm (EST). The tree will remain lit through early 2021. 

Will I be able to see the tree in person this year?

Plans on how to see the Christmas tree in person will be announced by Rockefeller Center in the coming weeks. 

How do I get there? 

By subway, take the B, D, F and M trains to the 47-50th Street Rockefeller Center stop, the 1 Train to the 50th Street stop, the N, Q, or R trains to the 49th Street stop, the E or M to the 5th Avenue/53rd Street stop, or the 6 train to 51 Street Station. By bus, it’s the M1, M2, M3, M4 or M5 bus to 50th Street. Then, walk accordingly. 

What happens to the tree when it comes down?  

When the tree comes down next year it will be donated to Habitat for Humanity, where it will be milled and made into lumber for home-building, reflecting the true spirit of the holiday season. 

This article was originally published in November 2019 and updated in November 2020.

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This article was first published Nov 1, 2019 and updated Nov 16, 2020.

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