The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

Everything you need to know about the Rockefeller Center Tree

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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

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 of tourists 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.

About the Tree Lighting Ceremony

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in NYC

It’s the spectacle of the holiday season. Many people travel great distances to New York City just to attend the Tree Lighting Ceremony in person. It’s a dream come true and over the years, it’s become a bigger and bigger event that features many performances. The tree lighting ceremony lasts for about 3 hours, starting at around 7 pm and ending around 10 pm. Here’s what you need to know if you want to attend the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony:

When is the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony?

The ceremony takes place the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, which is the third Thursday in November. This year, the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony falls on December 4th. The ceremony starts around 7 pm but the tree won’t be lit until 9:55 pm. 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 thunderous applause. And the applause is warranted – the tree is a sight to behold.

When should you arrive at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony?

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 no later than 3 pm with the ceremony starting at 7 pm. Every year, the crowds get bigger. You won’t be able to see the tree if you’re only an hour or two early. If you want to see the tree and be part of the ceremony, expect to wait outside in the cold for hours.

How can I avoid the crowds at the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony?

If you want to avoid the crowds, you can attend an exclusive tree lighting party with views of the tree. These parties do not only offer views of the trees from a warm room but also let you enjoy a great party with food in a festive atmosphere. Because the tree lighting ceremony is such a big deal in New York and only a few locations have great views of the tree, tickets are quite expensive. You will need to decide for yourself whether it is worth it. Check out the details of an exclusive party below.


*If there are no tickets left anymore, it’s because they are sold out! Because of high demand, you need to reserve your spots as soon as you can.

The Star of Manhattan until January

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York

Visitors that travel to New York during the timeframe of December 4th and January 17th 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 17, 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.

About the author

Being a photographer and creative in general, New York City, I think is the perfect place to be. I moved to NYC from Boston in 2013 and never looked back. Loving New York has given me the opportunity to do what I love and share those images with you all.

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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.



We are arriving from the netherlands for A Nice week in newyork and like to score Some tickets for the tree lightning ceremonie gala
Are there any tickets left ?

Maureen Steinert

Hi Andrew,

this is so exciting!! Unfortunately, the tickets aren’t available yet. We will post them here as soon as they are!
If you want I can also send you an email once I see availability, so you won’t miss it. Just let me know!
Have a wonderful day,



I will be there from 10th December, am I able to just come to the center to see the tree? Is there anything else there?

Maureen Steinert

Hi Jean,

you’ll have no problems seeing the tree! There’s a lot of other stuff around there (5th Ave, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Top of the Rock, FAO Schwarz Toy Store, NBC Studios etc.). It just depends on what you’re looking for! You can also see the spectacular light show across the street at Saks Fith Avenue. It’s amazing!



Are the dinner tickets and viewing for lighting the tree in Rockefeller Plaza available yeT? What is the restaurant name?


Will the tree be up by November 15?

Maureen Steinert

Hi Sue,

it will be cut on November 7th and then arrive in New York on November 9th.


Debra Wicker

Why are they waiting so late to light the tree this year???
Traveling to NY to see an unlit tree…SMH:(((
Don’t know who made this decision but after Black Friday the Christmas season has started and the biggest tree in NY will not be lit!

Maureen Steinert

Hi Debra,

the tree is never lit before Black Friday. The ceremony always falls on Wednesday after Thanksgiving.



Are there any all night attractions after the tree lighting? I am planning to travel to NYC by train from NC just for this event. Will leave early the next morning to travel back to NC.

Christine Osvath

I know the tree gets lit on dec 4 but when does it arrive in nyc

Maureen Steinert

Hi Christine,

it arrives on November 9th – this Saturday!


Karmelina Woody

I am going to NYC for Thanksgiving weekend. I just read that the tree will not be lit until Dec 4th, would I at least be able to see it? It’s on my bucket list and I thought it was always lit on Thanksgiving weekend 🙁

Maureen Steinert

Hi Karmelina,

yes, you will get to see it! It’s already here 🙂 They are currently trimming it and will start decorating this Friday.


Maria E.

Is there a date set for the tree lighting in December 2020?


Hi Maria,

officially, nothing has been announced yet. Typically, however, you can expect the lighting ceremony to take place the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.


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