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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Visitors Guide

Don't miss seeing this iconic NYC holiday sight!


Marvin E. Newman/The Image Bank/Getty Images

More: New York City Christmas Trees
More: Rockefeller Center Visitors Guide

I get lots of emails from people planning their trips to New York City. One of the most common questions I hear is "When will the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center be lit this year?" (Another surprisingly popular one is "Can you make sure it's lit when I come visit/for my friend's birthday/for my anniversary?")

While I have no control over when they light the tree (and I don't have a definite date until after Labor Day) it's almost always lit the week after Thanksgiving.

When Will The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Be Lit?:

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is typically lit the week after Thanksgiving. The 2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony is going to be Wednesday, December 4, 2013.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Details:

  • Rockefeller Center is located in the center of the complex of buildings between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues. See Rockefeller Center Map.
  • Closest Subways: B/D/F/M to 47-50 Sts/Rockefeller Center or the 6 to 51st/Lexington

2013 Dates:

  • Tree Goes Up: mid November 2013
  • Tree is Illuminated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
  • Tree Lit Until: January 7, 2014 at 11 p.m.


The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is typically illuminated from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily, except on Christmas and New Year's Eve. On Christmas, the tree is illuminated for 24 hours and on New Year's Eve the lights are turned off at 9:00 p.m.

Lighting Ceremony:

The 81st Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 from 7-9 p.m. The annual event is televised and features musical performances from a variety of popular artists. Typically, the Radio City Rockettes perform and there are also ice skaters performing in the Rockefeller Ice Rink.

About the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree:

The Christmas tree that adorns Rockefeller Center is typically a Norway Spruce. The minimum requirement is that the tree be 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide, however manager of Rockefeller Center gardens prefers the tree be between 75 and 90 feet tall and proportionally wide. Norway Spruce that grow in forests don't typically reach these proportions, so the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tends to be one that was ornamentally planted in someone's front or back yard. There is no compensation offered in exchange for the tree, other than the pride of having donated the tree that appears in Rockefeller Center.

Over five miles of lights are used to decorate the tree every year. Only the lights and the star decorate the tree. The tree is recycled and the 3 tons of mulch are donated to the Boy Scouts. The largest portion of the trunk is donated to the U.S. Equestrian team in New Jersey to use as an obstacle jump.

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