Come Christmas season, Rockefeller Center is home to three of New York City’s most iconic holiday emblems: the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Ice Skating Rink and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Tradition
Placed annually in the Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan, the tree is a symbol that the holiday season is in full swing. Every year since 1931 (officially since 1933), the tree has been put up between mid and late November and lit in early December to be kept up through early January. The lighting is a special occasion, broadcast live nationwide.
What Kind of Tree is Selected?
The tree is typically a Norway spruce, between 69 and 100 feet (20 to 30 meters) high. Now you may be asking yourself, “how many full grown spruce trees do you really find in a huge metropolitan area such as New York City?” In actuality, the trees are scouted via helicopter throughout the surrounding areas in Connecticut, New Jersey, upstate New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and even as far north as Canada. You can also submit your tree for selection!
Once a tree is selected, it is cut and placed on a custom trailer, to be moved in through the busy streets of New York. You can imagine this must be a very interesting site! The tree is then secured in place and scaffolding is used to help workers hang the more than 45,000 multi-colored LED lights. A star is placed at the top of the tree, weighing 550 pounds (250 kg) and measuring 9.5 feet (2.9 meter) in diameter.
The Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center
Below the iconic Christmas tree, you will find the world famous Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center. Opened in 1936, you will find both New Yorkers and tourists (of all skating levels, from beginner to Olympian) lacing up their skates to get into the holiday spirit.
The general admission is on a first come, first serve basis, opening at 8:30 am and closing at midnight. The rink is quite small, with space for only 150 skaters, so you can imagine it gets busy during the holiday season. The best time to visit is during off peak hours.
The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
Any trip to New York City during the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a trip to see the world-famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in the Christmas Spectacular. Check out the trailer for this year’s show here: