Even though winter is approaching in New York, the official Holiday Season does not start until the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza has been lit in a legendary and impressive lighting ceremony. This year, the lighting of the tree ceremony at Rockefeller Center will take place on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019.

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center – The Real Start of the Holiday Season

In New York the Tree Lighting Ceremony right after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Holiday season. Over the past years we weren’t super lucky with the weather but the Tree Lighting Ceremony attracts tons of people every year. Of course the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is the highlight from tourist coming to New York from all over the world during Christmas time. Most visitors only know the tree from movies or pictures, so it’s very impressive looking at it in person.

The Tree Lighting Ceremony

Around 8 PM the giant Christmas tree in New York lights up in all its glory. Usually, at the moment of the lighting, a general hush descends upon the masses gathered to view the event (a rarity in New York City), followed by a thunderous applause. And the applause is warranted – the tree is a sight to behold.

Sparkling and beautiful, it is the centerpiece of the Plaza every year. Our tip: if you would like to witness the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center, be sure to get there about an hour early with the ceremony starting at 7 PM. The tree is erected and decorated a few weeks prior to the event, but it will not be lit until Wednesday, December 4th.

The Star of Manhattan until January

Visitors that travel to New York during the timeframe of December 4th and January 6th get to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center; the tree enjoys celebrity status in Manhattan during that time and turns into the most photographed attraction in the city during that time.

At 9 PM on January 6, the lights are turned off. In the following days, the tree will be removed and then turned into valuable building materials for Habitat for Humanity.

Did you know?

What is behind arguably the most famous Christmas tree in the world? Where did it come from and how far did it have to travel to get to Rockefeller Center and be admired around the world? The most important questions: how many lights are on the tree at Rockefeller Center so that it can shine so brightly? Here you can uncover the 10 most important facts about the Christmas tree at New York’s Rockefeller Center.

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Maureen Steinert

Hi Laura,

the tickets are not available yet. You can find them about 3 months before the event on Viator.

VG Maureen


Is there a hotel in close proximity you can recommend ? Thank you


Yo have to have a ticket to the lighting of the Christmas Tree?

Maureen Steinert

Hi Rudy,

you don’t need tickets to see it, you just need to get there early! There are special events, however, for which you could purchase tickets to get a better view along with a great dinner for example. These aren’t available yet though.


Ángela Brown

Why is the Christmas tree getting lit so late this year? We arrive end of Nov and fly home on 4 December… which means we will sadly miss the light tree..
Is the 4th December definitely the date??
Thank you x

Maureen Steinert

Hi Angela,

so sad you’re going to miss the tree lighting ceremony this year. You can see the tree before December 4th though – just not lit. Hopefully, you’ll make it back to New York City sometime and you can see the tree shine in all its glory.


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