Wednesday night marks the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting — a star-studded event that welcomes the world to the holiday season in New York.
The lighting will take place at 8 p.m. and will be open to spectators this year in person at West 49th and 50th streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues. For those who want to watch from home, the lighting will be broadcast on NBC starting at the same time.
This year’s 79-foot tall Christmas tree came up to New York City from Elkton, Maryland, donated from a family. The tree is 85 years old and 46 feet wide, and weighs in at 12 tons.
This will be the 89th tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. The tree will be wrapped with more than 50,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient LED lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star that weighs 900 pounds.
This year’s lighting ceremony will be hosted by Al Roker, Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, and Craig Melvin, with special coverage starting at 7 p.m. with Mario Lopez, David Ushery, and Natalie Pasquarella.
The night will feature a star-studded lineup of performers, including José Feliciano & CNCO, Pentatonix, Harry Connick Jr., Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Norah Jones, Alessia Cara, Mickey Guyton, the Radio City Rockettes and the cast of Broadway’s “Come From Away.”
Street closures and pedestrian traffic
In order to accommodate the expected increase in foot traffic to the tree this year, 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be open only to pedestrians during the most congested hours, with the city closing these streets to vehicle traffic between 11 a.m. and midnight daily. There will be stricter crowd-control protocols in place during the tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 1.
Movable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of 5th and 6th Avenues between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating a lane of traffic on each avenue to create more pedestrian space.
Additionally, there will be no turns allowed onto 47th, 49th, or 51st Streets off of 5th Avenue. MTA buses will bypass all stops between 48th to 52nd Streets, and all crosstown buses will be re-routed around Rockefeller Center during pedestrian-only hours.
The tree will be lit daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. throughout the season. On Christmas Day, the tree will be lit for 24 hours and on New Year’s Eve it is lit from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about the tree, visit rockefellercenter.com.
Additional reporting by Nyckole Maree