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How to watch the Rockefeller Center tree lighting without the crowds

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All the festive cheer, none of the anxiety-inducing hordes of people

If the appearance of festive window displays in Midtown and the proliferation of Christmas trees on city sidewalks didn’t already clue you in, allow us to: the holiday season has officially arrived in New York, and no singular event is a bigger holiday hoopla than the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

This year’s event, happening today, will culminate in the the illumination of the 75-foot tall Norway spruce that was chosen as Rock Center’s yuletide centerpiece. The tree, which weighs around 12 tons, was trucked in from State College, PA, at the beginning of the month; it’ll be strung up with thousands of LED lights, and topped with an enormous star (studded with Swarovski crystals, because of course it is) before the ceremony.

Getting to see the tree lighting in action requires patience levels that few humans who aren’t tourists probably possess; it’s first-come, first-serve, and thousands of people are expected to show up. If you’re not interested in doing that, you can watch the event at home—here’s how.

How to watch the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting

NBC will broadcast the event live beginning at 8 p.m., with the big shebang happening closer to 9 p.m. While the tree is the linchpin of the event, it’s not the only reason people tune in: there’ll also be a host of performers, including Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. and the Radio City Rockettes.

For those who’d prefer to livestream, the whole thing will be broadcast on NBC New York’s website, though you’ll need a cable provider password to log on. (We’re sure you can figure out a workaround if that’s not something in your possession.)

Other livestreams on platforms like Facebook or Twitter may be available on the day of—this livestream of Fifth Avenue and 48th Street may offer a peek at the crowd situation on Wednesday, for example. Check back tomorrow for more details.

Will streets be closed for the tree lighting?

Yup. NBC New York reports that several Midtown streets will be closed beginning at 3 p.m. today:

  • West 48th to West 51st streets between Sixth and Madison avenues
  • West 47th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues
  • West 52nd Street between Fifth and Madison avenues

Rockefeller Center

45 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan, NY 10111 (212) 588-8601 Visit Website