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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

85th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

With the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade out of the way, Midtown is gearing up for yet another blockbuster holiday event: the ever-popular lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

This year’s tree—a 72-foot-tall Norway spruce, weighing about 12 tons—arrived in New York City from Walkill, New York, earlier this month and will be illuminated for the first time on Wednesday, November 28 around 9 p.m.

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, with many folks queuing up as early as 3 p.m. to guarantee a good spot. (That also means traffic patterns in Midtown will be heavily disrupted come Wednesday afternoon.)

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 around 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 John Legend, Diana Ross, and the Pentatonix.

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.

Rockefeller Center

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