The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting is a quintessential New York experience. Actually, the lighting ceremony itself, while spectacular, is very crowded, but anyone visiting New York City during December should definitely visit the world’s most famous tree. Traditionally, the Rockefeller Tree arrives some time in November, and has always been lit the first Wednesday in December, however, for the first time, the tree will be lit on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 and will stay up until January 2, 2011.
About the Rockefeller Center Tree
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 30,000 environmentally friendly LED lights on five miles 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 tree will be illuminated from 5:30 A.M. – 11:30 P.M. daily, all day (24 hours) on Christmas Day and 5:30 A.M. – 9 P.M. on New Year’s Eve. A replica of the Swarovski crystal star can be purchased in the Top of the Rock gift shop to bring home to your Christmas tree.
Visiting the Christmas Tree
My best tip, when visiting the tree, is to enter Rockefeller Center from the 5th Avenue side 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 Rockefeller Center map will clarify exactly how to do this so you don’t spoil your first view of the tree. It’s truly a sight to walk through the Angels, toward the Ice Skating Rink, looking at Prometheus.
Rockefeller Center Ice Skating
The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center has been a quintessential NYC winter experience for generations. Skate under the watchful eye of Prometheus and the unique urban backdrop of Rockefeller Center’s sparkling lights. The Rink at Rockefeller Center usually opens for ice skating in October. The Rink charges both an admission fee and skate rental fee, as opposed to some other New York City ice skating rinks, which do not charge admission. However, for some, it is one of those “not to be missed” experiences. Afterward, enjoy a meal, at Rock Center Café, The Sea Grill, Cucina & Co or any of the 20+ other restaurants in Rockefeller Center.
Christmas in New York City
When visiting NYC on Christmas Day, make sure to know the restaurants open for Christmas Dinner, which attractions are open, closed or have limited holiday hours and which shows are open and closed. Planning in advance will help you make the most of your NYC Vacation.