Insider Tips on the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Nothing marks the beginning of the magical holiday season in New York City like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting. Check our Insider Guide tips on the best views of the tree, ice skating in Rockefeller Center, Christmas Dinner, Christmas Open Attractions and more.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Annual Tree Lighting
Dec 1, 2021 – Jan 10, 2022
Ceremony, 7-9 pm

2021 Officially confirmed by Rockefeller Center! The unlit Rockefeller Center Christmas tree usually arrives in mid-November (the Tree will arrive on Saturday, November 13, 2021). Then we have Thanksgiving and Black Friday, when the department stores unveil their famous window holiday displays… but it is the week after Thanksgiving that represents the true start of Holiday Season in NYC for many New Yorkers.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City. The tree, traditionally a Norway Spruce, is illuminated by 50,000 multi-colored LED lights on approximately 5 miles (8 km) of wire and crowned by a Swarovski crystal star. Tens of thousands crowd the sidewalks for the event and hundreds of millions watch the Tree Lighting Ceremony broadcast live across the globe.

The 2021 Tree, a 79-foot Norway Spruce, will be cut in Elkton, MD on November 11, and arrive at Rockefeller Center on November 13, 2021.

Visiting hours will be daily 6am – 12am, through Jan. 10, 2022. On Christmas Day, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for a full 24 hours and and on New Year’s Eve it is lit from 6am to 9pm. After January 10th, the tree will be donated to Habitat For Humanity.

When is the 2021 Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting?

The confirmed dates are Dec 1, 2021 – Jan 10, 2022.

Our best guess is that the 2022 Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting will be Wednesday, November 30, 2022. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is almost always lit the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. We have seen one exception to this in the last 12 years – in 2010 it was lit on a Tuesday.

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Tree Lighting Dinner Gala at Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Gala

This Gala sells out EVERY year, so grab your tickets soon. Join us for a cocktail reception with waiter-passed hors d’oeuvres, a gourmet buffet dinner and live entertainment. As a special treat, a professional photographer will be on-site for personal photos throughout the evening! Our 7th Floor dining room offers a beautiful buffet, entertainment and cocktails with a direct line of site to the festivities.

Book this Gala ONLY for Dec 1, 2021 – do not book on any other dates.

The The Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center is one of New York City’s most-celebrated events, with the iconic tree serving as a universal symbol of the most festive season of the year. Rather than joining the tens of thousands of onlookers crowding sidewalks in the bitter December cold, enjoy direct views of the tree lighting and accompanying festivities from one of the best views of Rockefeller Center!

There will be a mix of high-energy entertainment, live music and plenty of dancing to the sounds of our awesome DJ. You will gain access to this highly secure event with an official credential letter approved by the NYPD.

Book this Gala ONLY for Dec 1, 2021 – do not book on any other dates.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting

NYC Insider Tip: When visiting the tree, enter Rockefeller Center from 5th Avenue and walk through the horn-blowing Angels toward the tree. Entering from the side, 47th or 50th streets is just not the same view or experience.

The horn-blowing Angels will lead you to the Rockefeller Tree, Prometheus and the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink. The Angels represent hope and Prometheus, the gold statue in Rockefeller Plaza, represents the ancient Greek legend of the Titan, bringing fire to mankind.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center is between 5th and 7th Avenues and 47th and 50th Streets.

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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Map

As you can see from this partial map of Rockefeller Center, entering from the Fifth Avenue side makes the first sight of the tree visit much nicer as you walk along the Angels (Channel Gardens), toward the Ice Skating Rink, looking at Prometheus (the statue behind the rink) and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree proudly presiding over the spectacular scene.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Map

See Rockefeller Center for a complete downloadable map and directory or check here for Top of the Rock Holiday Hours

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Where are the BEST Views of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting?

Mariagiulia from Italy asked, “I would like to know (because it’s my first time at this event) where precisely will the stage be where celebrities will perform and, in your experience, where is the best spot with the closest view of the stage. And at which hour should I arrive to be in front?”

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

Of course, I asked my friend and Rockefeller Center expert, John, Manager of Top of the Rock.

Here is his response, “The talent usually performs down by the ice skating rink, in front of the Prometheus statue. She should probably arrive at about 4pm for the closest spot possible, but she’ll get no closer than the Channel Gardens because that’s where just about everyone there has to stand.”

For those who want an up close and warm view of the live entertainment and tree lighting, check out this: Exclusive Insider’s Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Gala

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Best Hotels Near Rockefeller Center

Some of our top value picks near Rockefeller Center include:

Hotels Near Rockefeller Center

See the Insider Guide for dozens more Hotels Near Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center runs from 47th - 50th Streets, between 5th and 6th Aves. Download our free neighborhood maps at Midtown East Hotels and Midtown West Hotels

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Holiday and Christmas Cruise Specials

NYC Insider Best Sellers every Holiday Season!!!! Classic Harbor cruises has some holiday treats just for YOU!!! Their upscale cruise line offers dozens of NYC Holiday Cruises, like Cocoa & Carols, Holiday Jazz, Holiday Brunch, Holiday Wine Tasting, New Year's and many more, all year round.

These cruises SELL OUT QUICKLY, so make sure to head over to: Classic Harbor Holiday Cruises to book your sail around Manhattan.

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Special Holiday Tours Open on Christmas Eve and/or Day

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NYC Insider Print Map and Guide to Manhattan

Download over 100 pages of NYC maps, information and recommendations in less than 5 minutes! Our NYC Insider Printable Map Guide Book, Travel Planner and Bonus Map Guides include organized, easy to follow, color coded guides, detailed maps of every neighborhood, weekly chart of Free Museum Days and Times and free weekly neighborhood tours, Best of NYC Categories and lists by ALL native New Yorkers. Download everything you need to know NYC Like a Pro and make the most of your NYC vacation. NYC Insider Printable Guides

Loving the guide so far! I’ve been studying it for our upcoming trip. My favorite part is that you’ve provided what to see and where to eat in each area! We will be taking our cheat sheets with us as we visit each place! Honestly, I am not sure what you could have done better – it is so detailed, I love it!

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New York City Holiday Lights Tours

New York City Holiday Lights Tours

New York City during Holiday season is a don’t miss! Get in the festive spirit by taking a Holiday Lights Tour. Choose from Bus Tours, Holiday Dining Cruises and Movie & TV Site Holiday tours.

Holiday Cruises

Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise

NYC Insider Pick
Price starting at US$62
View details

Statue & Skyline Holiday Cocoa Cruise

NYC Insider Pick
Price starting at US$48
View details

Sunset & Holiday Cocoa Cruise

Price starting at US$72
View details

Best of NYC Holiday Tours

Viator - from Wed 11/24 through Wed 12/1, use code "BLACKFRIDAY10" to save 10% on almost anything in NYC - tours, shows, holiday tours, holiday lights, etc. ($30 max discount per order). Use code "BLACKFRIDAY10" on most of the tours listed below.

See More: December Holiday Tours in New York City

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Christmas in New York Holiday Season Calendar

Christmas in New York Holiday Season Calendar

Check our day by day guide to the Holiday Season in New York City. Thanksgiving, the Rockettes, Cocoa and Carols Cruises, The Nutcracker, Rockefeller Tree, Central Park Christmas Tree and more on our NYC Holiday Events Calendar. Deck the Halls, Light the Menorah and celebrate Christmas in New York with our calendar.

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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Photos

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree NYC Christmas Tree Lighting Rockefeller Center Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting


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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Video

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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – Ice Skating

Ice Skating New York City | Rockefeller Center

For tourists and locals alike, ice skating at Central Park, Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park is a classic New York winter experience.

All three major rinks are open on Christmas Day, as are most of the restaurants surrounding them.

Here are the details for Ice Skating in New York City, including rates and dates plus NYC Insider Tips for discounts and coupons.

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Christmas in New York City

Christmas in New York City

Read the full NYC Insider Guide to Christmas in New York City to get the inside scoop and plan your Christmas holiday.

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Rockefeller Tree Lighting Performers

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Performers

The 2021 “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” telecast on NBC features Carrie Underwood, Mickey Guyton, Harry Connick Jr., Brad Paisley, Alessia Cara, Norah Jones, Rob Thomas and stay tuned for more being announced. As always, the Rockettes will be sure to "kick" off the holiday season. The 89th annual tree lighting will be broadcast nationally on NBC from 8 p.m to 10 p.m EST. The holiday season kickoff event will be hosted by TODAY anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin.

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Save Big on Things to do in New York City

New York City Coupons and Discounts are available for almost everything one can do in NYC: concerts, shows, Broadway, sports, events, tours, attractions, beauty and spa and much more! See All: Insider Guide to ALL our NYC Coupons

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Rockefeller Center More Info

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When is the Christmas Tree lighting in Rockefeller Center?

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is almost always lit the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. We have seen one exception to this in the last 12 years (in 2010), when it was on a Tuesday.

  • Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – January 10, 2022
  • Wednesday, December 2, 2020 – January 2, 2021
  • Wednesday, December 4, 2019 – January 11, 2020
  • Wednesday, November 28, 2018
  • Wednesday, November 29, 2017
  • Wednesday, November 30, 2016
  • Wednesday, December 2, 2015
  • Wednesday, December 3, 2014
  • Wednesday, December 4, 2013
  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012
  • Wednesday, November 30, 2011
  • Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I will be in NYC January 2 2020. I was curious how long the Rockefeller tree will be lit and also Saks & Macys holiday windows? I was hoping to see the Christmas decor!

    • Hi Tina – usually the Rock Center Tree is lit through the first week in January, though this year they have not announced a specific date. Last year it was up until January 7, 2019. The department stores also usually keep up their holiday displays for the first few days in January, however, there is no set or published schedule. You should be able to catch some of them on January 2nd.

  2. I want to come to New York for thanksgiving day parade and to see the tree lit on a budget, plus which airport is best to land at for access to downtown.

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