The holiday season in NYC only truly starts once the Rockefeller Christmas Tree has been set up and its lights have been lit. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting is an event in and of itself and has been a longstanding tradition since 1933 when the first Christmas tree was put up in front of the Rockefeller Center.
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10 Mindblowing Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Facts
Before we dive into the facts, let us give you a quick idea of when you can see the famous Christmas tree in New York. The Rockefeller Center Tree is typically cut down at the beginning of November before it arrives at Rockefeller Plaza in mid-November. That doesn’t mean yet that it will be decorated right away! First, the tree needs to be trimmed to guarantee the beautiful look we all know. After the trim, which typically takes about a week, the decorating-process starts and doesn’t finish until the day of the lighting ceremony. The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony typically takes place at the end of November or early December. It always falls on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, which is the third Thursday in November. Once lit, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will stay in New York until early January.
1. This thing is huge!
Of course, everything is super-sized in New York City. The Christmas tree is no exception and the famous Norway Spruce typically comes in at a height of around 85 feet.
2. A true heavyweight
The sparkling tree weighs about 13 tons.
3. It is full of sparkle and glitter
The tree branches are lit with approx. 50,000 LED lights that need nearly 7 miles of electrical wire! That’s enough wire to span once around the circumference of Central Park!
4. The tree topper is not a bargain
The only thing that could possibly outdo the thousands of lights is the sparkling Christmas star tree topper. It is made from 25,000 real Swarovski crystals and is either light nor cheap. It weighs an astonishing 900 pounds and costs about $1.5 million.
5. Beautifully aged
The spruces grow for over 90 years in order to have the honor of being the centerpiece of NYC’s beginning to the holiday season. The first tree lighting ceremony dates to 1933 meaning the trees are older than the ceremony itself.
6. The tree has come a long way
Every year, the tree is donated and comes from a different town, sometimes hundreds of miles away from Rockefeller Plaza. Oftentimes, however, it comes from New York or Pennsylvania.
7. Very Popular
On average, the Christmas tree gets 500,000 visitors a day! That comes to a total of 18 million Christmas visitors during its time as the centerpiece of Rockefeller Plaza.
8. Solar Energy
The tree consumes an incredible 1,297-kilowatt-hours per day. These come in large part from solar cells installed at Rockefeller Center. A good thing – I don’t think anyone wants to pay that power bill!
9. For a good cause
Once the lights are turned off in January, the wood of the tree is donated to charity. For many years, it was mulched and then spread throughout New York’s parks. But then doors and door frames were made from the wood and donated to those in need. Sometimes the tree was also turned into paper.
10. The most popular photo at Christmas time
No surprises here – the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza is something you need to take a picture of. Standing there in its whole beauty the tree is THE photo to take in New York during the Christmas season.
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I fell in love with NYC when I was young and visited for the first time. This love has only grown over the years and has grown into a full-grown passion. I’m always on the lookout for better deals, more things to do, and the best tips & tricks that I wish I knew on my first couple trips to NYC!