The 75-foot Norway spruce that is now the centerpiece of Midtown will be lit up on Wednesday night at the annual tree lighting ceremony, and then tourists and New Yorkers alike will swarm around its warm holiday glow like moths to a flame until our collective holiday spirit is extinguished on January 17th.
With the expectation of crowds, the area will once again become more pedestrian-friendly for the holidays — here's what you need to know about the tree lighting, regular tree viewing, and street closures.
TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY
On December 1st, the annual tree lighting will occur at 8 p.m. You can watch this live on NBC or Peacock, or show up early to take it all in in-person. While the ceremony is open to the public, space will be limited and they are allowing spectators in on a first-come, first-serve basis. Entertainment will include The Rockettes, Harry Connick Jr., Mickey Guyton, Norah Jones, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood, and more. More details here.
REGULAR TREE VIEWING
You can view the lit tree from 6 a.m. to midnight daily through January 17th, with the exception being on Christmas Day, when it will be lit for 24 hours. And on New Year's Eve, the tree will be unplugged at 9 p.m.
The city has announced that they will once again partially close streets around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall for the holidays.
“We expect that as New York City continues to recover from the pandemic, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will once again be a major destination for New Yorkers and of course for the tourists once again flocking to our city,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “Creating more space for pedestrians around Rockefeller Center will keep people safe while ensuring minimal disruption to the rest of the life of the city. New Yorkers can of course do their part by avoiding unnecessary driving in Midtown during the holiday season.”
Starting Friday, December 3rd, here's what you can expect in the area, per a press release from the city:
- Pedestrian-Only Side Streets: 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be open only to pedestrians during the most congested hours.
- The City will close these streets to vehicle traffic between 11 a.m. and midnight daily.
- Stricter crowd-control protocols are expected to be in place for the tree-lighting scheduled for Wednesday, December 1st.
- 5th Avenue: Movable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of 5th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating a lane of traffic on each side of the avenue to create more pedestrian space. Additionally, there will be no turns allowed onto 47th, 49th, or 51st Streets.
- 6th Avenue: Movable barriers will be placed on the east side of 6th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating one lane of traffic to create more pedestrian space.
- Buses: 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.