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Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Photo Credit:  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. The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to 1931 during the Great Depression. 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 tree gathering was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice-skating pond. 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. From 1953-55, the lighting ceremony was part of the nationwide HOWDY DOODY television show. 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 2023 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 with live and taped performances from 8-10pm ET (live)/PT (tape) on NBC, in a broadcast hosted by Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker, Craig Melvin and Kelly Clarkson. The 91st annual tree lighting featured performances from Chloe Bailey, Adam Blackstone, Cher, David Foster, Liz Gillies, Darlene Love, Seth MacFarlane, Barry Manilow, Katharine McPhee, Keke Palmer, Carly Pearce and Manuel Turizo. Blackstone and Palmer, Foster and McPhee, and Gillies and MacFarlane will perform holiday duets while Cher, in addition to performing solo, will be joined by Love for a special song. In line with tradition, the Radio City Rockettes -- the stars of the annual "Christmas Spectacular" at Radio City Music Hall -- return with a festive performance.

This year's tree at Rockefeller Center is a 80-foot tall, 43-foot wide Norway Spruce from Vestal, NY. The tree weighs approximately 12 tons, is adorned with more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights, and is topped with a three-dimensional Swarovski star. The 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!