The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is a favorite NYC holiday tradition. Each year, an estimated 135 million people come to visit the Rockefeller Christmas tree. Last year, due to COVID-19, limitations were set on who could see the tree and when. This year, visitors will be thrilled to know that the Rockefeller Christmas tree is open for all to see. Each year, the tree is special and brings its own unique flair to NYC. To see the tree is to witness a part of NYC history.
HOW TO SEE THE ROCKEFELLER CHRISTMAS TREE
This famous Christmas tree is located in the center of Rockefeller Plaza, between 50th street and 49th street, and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, tall above the Rockefeller Center Statue of Prometheus.
A favorite place to view the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is from the picturesque Channel Gardens. Channel Gardens is located between the British Empire Building and La Maison Francais, perhaps better known as the buildings that house Kate Spade and Cole Haan. Channel Gardens is lined with giant illuminated angels. If you stand on Fifth Avenue and look down Channel Gardens, you will get a view of the Rockefeller Christmas tree perfectly framed by these glistening angels.
A walk down Channel Gardens will lead you to The Rink at Rockefeller Center(opens in a new tab). At the Rink, you can rent ice skates, twirl around the Rockefeller Center Statue of Prometheus, and get an up-close view of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. This makes for a perfect holiday afternoon in New York City.
Visitors can also gather around the Rockefeller Christmas Tree this year without a ticket because this year, the Rockefeller Plaza is open for all. At night, when one can truly enjoy the tree’s 50,000 LED lights twinkling bright, there will be huge crowds gathered around the tree. During the day, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree still looks resplendent.
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree lights will be on from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. On Christmas, they will be lit for 24 hours!
HISTORY OF THE ROCKEFELLER CHRISTMAS TREE TREE
The very first Rockefeller Christmas Tree was a 20-foot tall balsam fir (the tallest ever tree was in 1999, standing 100 feet tall) and was erected in 1932 by workers helping to construct Rockefeller Center. It was the height of the Great Depression, and the city was very much in need of holiday cheer. The workers’ families made homemade garlands out of cranberries to decorate the tree. People loved the tree so much, it was decided that it should return every year.
During World War II, the tree was decorated in patriotic red, white, and blue. In 1942, instead of one giant tree, Rockefeller Center opted for three smaller trees. In 1944 and 1945, the tree went unlit due to blackout regulations.
The 1965 Rockefeller Christmas tree was the first to be mulched and recycled. It was turned into mulch for nature trails in upstate New York. Today, the tree is taken down and turned into lumber. The lumber goes to Habitat for Humanity(opens in a new tab), where it will be turned into a home for a family in need.
2021 ROCKEFELLER CHRISTMAS TREE
The 2021 tree comes from Elkton, Maryland. It is the very first Rockefeller tree to come from Maryland. The 2021 tree is a 79-foot-tall Norway spruce that weighs 12 tons. Twinkling on the branches are 50,000 LED lights.
The star on top of the Rockefeller Tree is a true paragon of excellence. Designed by Daniel Liebeskind, who is also the master planner for the new World Trade Center Site, the star features 70 spikes and 3 million Swarovski crystals. The star is huge in size. Its diameter is 9 feet and four inches and it weighs 900 pounds. In the dark, it is so bright that it looks like a comet! Passersby always “ooh” and “ah” at its beauty. The effervescent star is the perfect crown atop the 2021 Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
The best way to experience Rockefeller Center and the Rockefeller tree is with a private tour(opens in a new tab). Contact us(opens in a new tab) to see how our guides can help you celebrate the holidays at Rockefeller Center.