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Rock Center Christmas 2019

By Karen HudesOct 23 2019

Updated: December 12, 2019

This holiday season, Rockefeller Center will host the 87th Christmas Tree Lighting on the Plaza. Check this page for regular updates and exclusive info about the Tree.

On November 7, after being carefully prepped for the journey, this year’s majestic Norway spruce will travel roughly 60 miles from the Village of Florida in Orange County, NY, to Rockefeller Center. Once the Tree is lifted by crane onto the Plaza, a work crew will begin readying it for Christmas in New York City.

  • • November 9: The Tree arrives at Rockefeller Plaza, where the team begins wrapping it with 50,000 holiday lights on five miles of wire.

    • November 13: The Swarovski star will be raised onto the Tree.

    • December 4: The Tree will be lit for the 2019 season at the 87th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, broadcast locally from 7–10pm and nationally from 8–10pm on NBC.

    • December 5–January 2020: After the ceremony, the Tree will remain lit daily from 6am to midnight, and will stay illuminated for 24 hours on Christmas Day, till 9pm New Year’s Eve, and for an extended run in January.

Follow the Tree on Rock Center’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Update: December 12

How the Tree Becomes a Home After the Holidays

After welcoming crowds full of holiday cheer to the Plaza, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity, continuing the season of giving. This year’s 77-foot-tall Norway spruce will follow a tradition that began in 2007: milling the Tree into lumber for homes.

Over the past four years, wood from the Tree has gone to the town of Newburgh, New York, helping in construction projects that are revitalizing an entire neighborhood. See images from last year’s restoration of a house using beams stamped with the mark of the 2017 Tree.

The destination for lumber from this year’s evergreen will be announced in early 2020. Until then, enjoy the wonder of the Tree as it shines into the New Year.

Update: December 5

The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ushers In the Holiday Season

At 9:51pm Wednesday night, the 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lit up for the holidays, to the delight of hundreds of thousands of onlookers below. The gorgeous spruce and its 50,000 multicolored LED lights shone into the brisk Manhattan night, concluding an evening of showstopping performances (plus a surprise SNL cameo from the windows of 30 Rock). In the slideshow above, catch Lea Michele, Idina Menzel with Billy Porter, and Ne-Yo, along with more of the evening’s highlights.

See the Tree (and its sparkling Swarovski star) throughout the holidays—and into January 2020. And while you’re visiting, check out more holiday sights and special events around Rockefeller Center.

Update: November 12

The Performers for the 2019 Christmas in Rockefeller Center Special

Rock Center is preparing this year’s Norway spruce for its official debut on December 4, when the Tree’s 50,000 LEDs and Swarovski star will be turned on for the first time at the 87th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting. Watch the event during NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center broadcast, starting at 8pm nationally, with additional local coverage beginning at 7pm.

Hosted by Today anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin and Al Roker, the show will include performances and appearances by:

 John Legend

• Brett Eldredge

 Gwen Stefani

• Julianne and Derek Hough

• Lea Michele

• Chicago

• Idina Menzel

• NE-YO

• Straight No Chaser

 Alex Newell and Skylar Astin

• Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin

• The Radio City Rockettes

Bookmark this page for additional information about the ceremony and to learn about Rockefeller Center’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity following the holiday season.

Update: November 11

The Christmas Tree’s Swarovski Star Will Be Raised on November 13

Now that the Tree has arrived on the Plaza, its stunning Swarovski crystal star will be lifted onto the 77-foot-tall Norway spruce the morning of November 13, at 10am. A brand-new star debuted last year, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, who said the monumental ornament was "inspired by the beauty of starlight—something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world." Measuring over 9 feet across, the glittering tree topper contains 70 triangular spikes covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals—all backlit by LEDs.

On December 4, thousands of people will pour into the Plaza to watch the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, when both the Tree and the star will be turned on for the first time. And many more will watch the live broadcast on NBC, starting at 7pm in NYC. Follow the blog for announcements about the lineup for this year’s Tree Lighting ceremony!

Update: November 7

The 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Arrives on November 9

This year’s Rockefeller Center Tree, a 77-foot-tall Norway spruce tree from the Village of Florida in Orange County, NY, will bring joy to New Yorkers and visitors through the holiday season.

For 60 years, Carol Schultz has owned the beautiful Tree. When she first brought home the young evergreen in 1959, it was small enough to sit on her coffee table. She later planted it in her front yard, where her family would decorate it at Christmas time.

That’s where Rockefeller Center’s head gardener, Erik Pauze, spotted it on a recent scouting trip. Schultz actually first submitted the tip-top spruce to Rockefeller Center for consideration back in 2010, and this year, her dream of the Tree gracing the Plaza is being fulfilled.

On November 7, the Tree will leave her home and travel about 60 miles on a flatbed truck to Rockefeller Center. Then, on the morning of November 9, Schultz will join as the 2019 Tree is slowly raised into place on the Plaza. Visitors are invited to watch the Tree arrival and raising, starting around 7:30am, and kids can participate in special events in the Concourse starting at 11am.

Stay tuned for updates about this year’s Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting ceremony.

Update: October 29

87 Years of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

Now in its 87th year, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting is a beloved New York City tradition. Each year, a massive Tree is donated for display on the Plaza to delight visitors while ice skating, dining and shopping at Rock Center. And since 2007, continuing in the giving spirit, the Tree has been milled into lumber to build houses for Habitat for Humanity at the conclusion of the holiday season.

Last year, the Christmas Tree was a 72-foot Norway spruce from Wallkill, New York. Stay tuned for updates about this year’s Tree!

Updated November 8th, 2018:

What happens to the Tree after the holidays?

During NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center broadcast, you may have caught the touching story about the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree’s life after the Plaza. Since 2007, Rockefeller Center has donated the Tree’s lumber to Habitat for Humanity, which uses it to build homes.

Front & Center interviewed Rowena Sara, Habitat for Humanity's senior director of public relations and global communications strategy, about the process of how the Christmas tree becomes a home, back in 2015.

"In the Plaza, the tree is cut into large pieces, which are then transported to a mill in New Jersey that does the initial rough sawing," Sara said. "Those pieces are then brought to a landscaping company where they're dried in a kiln and then milled and planed to get them straight and smooth. Only 2x4 and 2x6 beams are made. The finished beams are then stamped, shrink-wrapped and shipped to the Habitat for Humanity affiliate chosen to receive the lumber."

Sara also noted that in recent construction projects, builders have used the wood "to block and frame interior and exterior walls, as well as for cabinetry, shelving and bathroom accessories. Some have made a point to incorporate pieces into parts of the home where it can be seen by the family every day."

Last year’s Tree went to Habitat's Greater Newburgh chapter—stay tuned for updates about where the 2018 Tree is headed. Meanwhile, visit the lit Tree at Rock Center through January 7, 2019.

November 29

What’s happening at Rock Center during Christmas?

"It’s going to be a legendary Christmas, everybody," said singer-songwriter John Legend as he opened Wednesday’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center broadcast on NBC. During the two-hour 86th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting event, stars including Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Ella Mai and Martina McBride put their spin on the most beloved holiday tunes—from "The Christmas Song" to "Silent Night." Some local NYC favorites also joined in the celebration: dancers from the New York City Ballet performed a piece from George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, and Radio City’s own Rockettes performed their new "Christmas Lights" finale—in costumes by designer Emilio Sosa—with their signature jaw-dropping precision.

At 9:33pm, the Tree lit up the night with 50,000 LED lights, delighting the spectators at Rock Center. “I feel like we can now officially start the holiday season,” said NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.

Now that the 2018 Tree has been lit, you can visit the illuminated tree during these hours:

* Every day from 5:30am–11:30pm through January 6, 2019
* 5:30am–9pm on January 7, 2019
* On Christmas Day, the Tree's lights shine for a full 24 hours

While you’re at Rock Center, stay awhile—there are lots of things to do this time of year. If you’ve started your holiday shopping, check out the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, which has some great gift ideas for women, men, and kids—plus some last-minute stocking stuffers. Go skating at the Rink at Rockefeller Center, and then warm up with a cup of joe from Ralph’s Coffee Truck or one of the many other nearby eateries.

And there are other Rock Center Christmas experiences to be had. The Rockefeller Holiday Truck on the Plaza and the Top of the Rock gift shop are both excellent places to pick up holiday-themed gifts, including the limited edition Gray Malin x Rockefeller Center Tree print and the new crystal ornaments by architect Daniel Libeskind, designer of the 2018 Swarovski Star. The 12 Christmas Angels are back in the Channel Gardens, too, leading the way to a breathtaking view of the Tree. For a different perspective altogether, head 70 floors up to the observation deck at Top of the Rock and overlook Manhattan in its holiday best. You can also check out the just-reopened FAO Schwarz, complete with its dance-on piano, and book a ticket to catch the Rockettes perform the full 2018 Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.

Stay tuned for more 2018 Rock Center holiday happenings on the Front & Center blog, and follow the latest on Rock Center’s FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

November 26

How do I watch the 86th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting?

Time to bust out those Santa hats! This Wednesday is the night of nights at Rockefeller Center, when the stars come out and the Tree lights up for the season. On November 28 at Rockefeller Center, thousands of New Yorkers—and revelers from further afield—will be rocking around the Christmas Tree with performers including Diana Ross, Tony Bennett and Martina McBride at this year’s Tree Lighting ceremony.

Since the Tree arrived on the Plaza two weeks ago, the Rock Center team has been hard at work preparing the 72-foot-tall Norway spruce for its big debut, and tonight they’ll be flicking the switch on the Tree’s 50,000 lights, as well as the new 9-foot-wide Swarovski Star designed by world-famous architect Daniel Libeskind.

The donors of the 2018 Tree, Shirley Figueroa and Lissette Gutierrez, who lived in the Bronx and Brooklyn before recently moving upstate to Wallkill, NY, hope the Tree represents “unity and happiness” for those who come to see it this season. Growing up, Figueroa loved seeing people from all “different cultures and backgrounds” visiting Rockefeller Center at Christmastime, so she’s grateful to help continue that tradition, especially for the kids who come from all over the city to enjoy it.

If you’re in NYC, join us here on the Plaza (between 49th and 50th Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues) on Wednesday night. The celebration is free and access is first come, first serve, so arrive early to beat the crowds. If you’re sipping some eggnog at home, cozy up by your TV screen and tune in to NBC from 8–10pm. Check your local listings.

Following the ceremony, the Tree will remain lit every day from 5:30am–11:30pm through January 6, 2019, and until 9pm on January 7, 2019. On Christmas Day, it twinkles for a full 24 hours. See more of the Tree, the performances and all the holiday happenings on Rock Center's FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

November 19

Who's performing at the Tree Lighting this year?

While turkey and stuffing may be on your mind this week, visions of sugar plums (and candy canes and gingerbread cookies) are just days away—NYC kicks off the holidays next week with the 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. NBC has announced the star-powered lineup of performers who’ll be playing the celebration, running the gamut from legendary pop to modern R&B and country. The artists for this year’s big event are:

Diana Ross
Tony Bennett
Diana Krall
Brett Eldredge
Darci Lynne Farmer
John Legend
Martina McBride
Pentatonix
Kellie Pickler
Special appearance by Howie Mandel

The Tree Lighting will take place at Rockefeller Plaza (between 49th and 50th Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues) on Wednesday, November 28, beginning at 7pm, and will be televised nationally on NBC from 8pm–10pm. If you’re near Rockefeller Center, stop by! Just be sure to arrive early, since the free event is first come, first serve, and always attracts thousands of fans.

The Tree will remain lit every day from 5:30am–11:30pm through January 6, 2019, and 5:30am–9pm on January 7, 2019. On Christmas Day, the Tree's 50,000 lights shine for a full 24 hours.

Stay tuned for more updates here, and follow along with the Tree on Rock Center’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

November 13

When does the star go up?

On November 14, the new crown jewel for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be raised atop the 72-foot-tall Norway spruce on the Plaza. Designed by famed architect Daniel Libeskind, the dazzling 2018 Swarovski Star includes 3 million Swarovski crystals adorned across 70 triangular spikes. The 9-foot-4-inch topper, backlit by LEDs, will be lit during the 86th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting ceremony on November 28.

“The new Swarovski Star for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is inspired by the beauty of starlight—something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world,” Libeskind says.

And as if one new star weren’t enough, a second identical star will be displayed on the Plaza next to a 146-square-foot retail pop-up also designed by Libeskind. Inside, shoppers can peruse Swarovski and Atelier Swarovski jewelry and holiday ornaments perfect for holiday gifting, in addition to Libeskind’s five new Star-inspired ornaments for Atelier Swarovski Home.

Watch this page for updates and announcements on the 86th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting and more upcoming holiday events, and keep up with the Tree on Rock Center’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

November 9

When does the Tree arrive in New York City?

After traveling from upstate New York, the 2018 Christmas Tree arrives at Rockefeller Plaza at 7:30am, November 10. It will be an incredible sight as the Rock Center crew lifts the 72-foot-tall, 12-ton Norway spruce from the truck and carefully places it on the Plaza. Stop by to catch a first glimpse of the Tree! And if you're snapping photos, share them using the #RockCenterXMAS hashtag.

There’s a lot of preparation to do in the weeks before the upcoming Christmas Tree Lighting. First, scaffolding goes up around the Tree as it's wrapped in five miles of LED lights. Then on Wednesday, November 14, Rock Center unveils the new Swarovski star, a 9-foot-wide topper designed by architect Daniel Libeskind that features a whopping three million crystals.

Follow along with the Tree on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and stay tuned for the 86th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting on Wednesday, November 28.

November 8

Where is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree coming from this year?

Before the 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree debuts on November 28, the Tree will first embark on a road trip, traveling more than 70 miles from Wallkill, New York, to Manhattan. This year’s showstopper, a 72-foot-tall Norway spruce, hails from the home of Shirley Figueroa and Lissette Gutierrez, who recently retired from jobs with the city and moved upstate.

Rock Center head gardener Erik Pauze first spotted the tree five years ago, he told the Wall Street Journal, and when he came to see it this spring, he said, "Yup, this is the year to take the tree... It's looking perfect." Today, November 8, the 75-year-old evergreen will leave Figueroa and Gutierrez's home and hit the road for New York City. Pauze and his team have been prepping for the move for weeks, maintaining a diligent watering schedule, and slowly wrapping the branches with rope to compact the 45-foot-wide spruce, allowing it to fit through underpasses on its journey. After departing Wallkill, the Tree will travel by truck to the Plaza at Rockefeller Center, where it will be raised on Saturday to overlook ice skaters on the Rink.

On November 28, watch in person or on NBC as the Tree is officially lit at the 86th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting ceremony, and see the illuminated Tree any day during the holidays from 5:30am–11:30pm through January 6, 2019, and 5:30am–9pm on January 7, 2019. It's lit for 24 hours on Christmas Day.

Follow this page for exciting announcements on the 2018 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting and more upcoming holiday events.

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