For the 50+ Traveler

It will light up. Yes, despite a global pandemic, the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and its 50,000 lights will brighten New York City, as expected, on December 2. The 11-ton, 75-foot-tall Norway Spruce becomes the 88th tree to assume the honor of the official Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

The tradition, according to the Rockefeller Center website, began in 1931. Since then, the Rockefeller tree has become symbolic of Christmas in New York and the holiday season in general.

Things To Know

This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree comes from Oneonta, New York. reports it was donated by Al Dick of Daddy Al’s General Store. Unfortunately, the tree’s debut didn’t go as planned, and it briefly became a major social media star.

“Many social media users complained it didn’t look very full after being lifted into its spot by a crane and compared it to the sad-looking tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the website reported.

Then, of course, who could forget the owl? reported that a small saw-whet owl, which is among the smallest species in the Northeast, was found inside the Christmas Tree. “Rockefeller,” as he is now known, has been relocated to a wildlife center in good health.

Despite these hiccups, the tree is on display at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, between West 49th and 50th streets and 5th and 6th avenues.

Changes For 2020

Due to COVID-19, changes had to be made for this year’s tree lighting ceremony. The ceremony will not be open to the public, but it will be televised nationally as part of NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center, which is scheduled to air live on December 2 from 7 p.m to 10 p.m. EST.

Today Show hosts Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, and Al Roker will be your guides through all the entertainment following the tree lighting. The show will also feature some of the top names in music including Dolly Parton, Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, Earth Wind and Fire, The Google Dolls, and Leslie Odom. See the full list here.

Details about how visitors can access the plaza and the Christmas tree have not been released, but the website does show that the tree is to be lit daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. and for 24 hours on Christmas Day. For more inspiration, see all our New York City content here and our holiday travel content here.