One of the highlights of Christmas in New York is the tree lighting ceremony .
And, among all those that settle in the city, there are two fir trees that embody the Christmas spirit like no other: the one at Rockefeller Center and the one at Bryant Park .
Will you be in town at the beginning of December and want to see these symbols of New York Christmas light up? Save the dates, we will tell you all about the lighting of the Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park tree !
THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER TREE LIGHTING
The most famous Christmas tree in New York arrives at Rockefeller Square in early November and is installed just above the statue of Prometheus, next to the ice skating rink .
But even though you can go see it, it doesn’t light up until almost a month later, in early December .
WHEN IS THE ROCKEFELLER TREE LIT?
- Official Web
- The Rockefeller tree will be lit on December 2, 2020 at night.
- Each year it is lit on the Wednesday of the week following Thanksgiving . The Thanksgiving date keeps changing, so the date of the lighting, too, but you can calculate it.
2020 Big Changes: This year, the Rockefeller Center tree lighting will be without an audience . The NBC network will broadcast it live and you can see it on in person from December 3.
Throughout the month, the tree area will be closed and the visitor capacity will be controlled so that there are no crowds. You will have to scan a QR code that you will find right there with your mobile and they will notify you when you can enter.
Once inside the tree enclosure, you can stay a maximum of 5 minutes . Official website with the info .
- The ceremony is known as Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting .
- It takes place at Rockefeller Plaza, between 48th and 51st streets and 5th and 6th avenues.
- The tree is lit from 6 a.m. to midnight. On Christmas day, it is on 24 hours.
- You can see the tree until the first days of January 2021 , when they remove it, turn it into firewood and donate the wood to a non-profit organization to build homes.
WHAT IS THE SHOW ABOUT?
The Rockefeller tree lighting show is crowded : for a few hours, tens of thousands of people crowd and paralyze the surroundings of this nerve center of Manhattan.
Therefore, if you want to get a good place, you will have to approach the square at least a few hours before the ceremony.
Sure, after reading about different celebrations in New York , arriving in time and waiting and waiting and waiting no longer catches you by surprise … Even so, a couple of tips: bundle up very well and go on foot or take the subway , since traffic in the area is complicated and buses and taxis can take centuries to arrive.
And what does the ceremony consist of? In short, in a parade of famous people that flood the square with carols and Christmas spirit.
The performances culminate with the lighting of the 30,000 lights of the tree. The fir tree doesn’t light up all the way , so if you’re not too patient, you’d better save yourself the crowds and stop by the square at night, as the ceremony is quite long!
Or there is another alternative to see the Rockefeller Center tree lighting up without the cold or the crowds: NBC broadcasts it live every year !
THE BRYANT PARK TREE LIGHTING
In addition to the Rockefeller show, another highly anticipated Christmas ceremony in New York is the lighting of the Bryant Park tree .
From the end of October to the beginning of January, this beautiful park is transformed into the Winter Village , a Christmas village where you can go ice skating for free or stroll through the craft and food stalls at the flea market.
Important: In 2020, Bryant Park has installed not its traditional giant spruce but three smaller trees in its place. There will be no lighting ceremony, but the flea market and skating rink are still there and you can visit them.
WHEN IS THE BRYANT PARK TREE LIT?
- Official Web
- Canceled in 2020. The Bryant Park tree was lit on December 5, 2019 at 6:00 PM.
- The ceremony is known as Winter Village Tree Lighting.
- It takes place around The Rink, Bryant Park’s ice skating rink.
WHAT IS THE SHOW ABOUT?
The Bryant Park show is a little less media-focused than the Rockefeller Center show. Several skaters dance on the ice rink to the rhythm of live music , and this serves as a common thread to tell a Christmas story, which leads to the lighting of the tree.
There are no faces as well known as in Rockefeller Center, but the night is also very special .
And after the show, the skating rink reopens to the public and everyone can skate for free while Lincoln Center musicians perform live jazz. A good plan to end the day in New York, right?
Although Bryant Park is spacious and doesn’t feel as cramped as Rockefeller Center , the show is also very crowded.
To get close to the track, you will have to arrive early ; if you want to see it from afar, you can go at any time.
OTHER CHRISTMAS TREES IN NEW YORK
The trees at Rockefeller and Bryant Park attract all the spotlights, but if you fancy a different experience, you can go to the lighting of other New York Christmas fir trees, such as:
- The Lincoln Center tree and Winter’s Eve . One of the most beloved Christmas festivals in the city. The tree is lit at first, but the night continues with live music, shows, food stalls …
- The tree of the New York Stock Exchange . This nearly 100-year-old celebration takes place in front of the New York Stock Exchange, off Wall St, and features performances by groups like the Rockettes.
- The Washington Square tree . New Yorkers congregate in the plaza and, between Christmas songs and apparitions like Santa Claus, the beautiful tree is lit in front of the arch.
- The Madison Square tree . Stop by the plaza to see the tree lighting and participate in the Christmas activities they organize, all with the Flatiron Building and the Empire State Building in the background!
MAP OF CHRISTMAS TREES IN NEW YORK
Tell us, have you ever attended the Rockefeller or Bryant Park tree lighting? How was the experience?