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Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Photo Credit:  Virginia Sherwood/NBC
  • Premiered: 
    December 2, 1998
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: NBC
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Special, Annual
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Holiday
  • Tags: Christmas

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Plot Synopsis

Each year since 1933 at New York City's Rockefeller Center, a Christmas tree is formally lit as part of a holiday celebration that now also features music, singing, dancing and skating. Rockefeller Center officially began the tree lighting ceremony in 1933, when a Christmas Tree was erected in front of the just-finished RCA Building. The Christmas trees in Rockefeller Center have ranged from 50-foot pines to 100-foot Norway spruces, with 70- to 90-foot Norway spruces used in recent ceremonies. This tree lighting event was first televised in 1951 by NBC on THE KATE SMITH SHOW, with Smith pressing a button that lit 7500 white, green and red lights on a 75-year-old, 82-foot Norway spruce, followed by Smith singing "White Christmas." NBC again aired the event nationally in 1952 on THE KATE SMITH SHOW on Friday, December 12, after the ceremony was delayed a few days when the workmen didn't finish the tree in time. The lighting ceremony was broadcast locally by WNBC for years, and in 1997 WNBC syndicated the program, making it available to all 11 NBC-owned stations and nearly 150 other stations across the country, for an event that featured singer Harry Connick, Jr., saxophonist Kenny G, skater Katarina Witt, and Radio City Music Hall's Rockettes. The following year, in 1998, NBC premiered this annual special for the first time, featuring singers Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Jewel, Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds, Cyndi Lauper and Olympic-medalist skater Kristi Yamaguchi.
The 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, with live and taped performances from 8-10pm ET (live)/PT (tape) on NBC, in a broadcast hosted by TODAY's Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Craig Melvin. The 86th annual tree lighting featured performances from Ella Mai, the New York City Ballet's production of "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker," Rob Thomas, the Radio City Rockettes, Diana Ross, Tony Bennett & Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, John Legend, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler.

In addition, select NBC stations from New York to Hawaii aired additional performances and more festivities in the 7-8pm ET hour, immediately preceding the 8pm national broadcast. The regional hour -- hosted by EXTRA's Mario Lopez and WNBC's Stefan Holt and Natalie Pasquarella -- features additional songs from Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynn Farmer, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler.

This year's tree at Rockefeller Center is a 12-ton, 72-foot tall, 45-foot wide Norway Spruce from Wallkill, NY, and was decorated with more than 50,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient LED lights on 5 miles of wire, and crowned by a new Swarovski star designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The new three-dimensional star is 9 feet, 4 inches in diameter, weighs approximately 900 pounds and features 70 spikes covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Brad Lachman Productions


  • Rockefeller Center - Manhattan, New York USA - Map It!