An important guest arrived in New York this morning: the Christmas tree that will be decorated and illuminated in Rockefeller Center and that usually becomes the most photographed in the world.
The tree was cut down on the morning of Thursday, November 9th, from a property in Vestal, located about 200 miles northwest of New York City. The Norway Spruce is approximately 80 feet tall and 43 feet wide, according to Rockefeller Center officials.
After being cut, the 12-ton tree was lifted by crane onto a flatbed truck to begin its trek down to Manhattan. It arrived at Rockefeller Center today, November 11th, 2023.
Rockefeller Center Announces Annual Tree Months in Advance
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is one of the most famous holiday icons in New York City and the United States. Millions of visitors flock to Rockefeller Center each holiday season to view the lit-up tree and the elaborate light display.
Planning for the tree begins months in advance each year. Rockefeller Center officials scout locations throughout the northeast, looking for the perfect tree. This year’s tree was sourced from Vestal, making it the first time a Rockefeller tree has come from the Binghamton area.
Once a tree is selected, arrangements are made with the property owner to have it cut down and transported at the start of November. The official Rockefeller social media accounts typically announce the selected tree in October or early November each year.
Tree Arrival Draws Crowds and Kickstarts Holiday Season
The arrival of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was a highly anticipated event that drew crowds of excited onlookers. As the massive tree is hoisted into place by crane, it marks the unofficial start of the holidays in New York City.
This year, the area was packed with people eager to get a first glimpse of the enormous Norway Spruce.
Once lifted into place, the tree will stand perched next to the iconic Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. Throughout the rest of November, workers will decorate the tree, stringing it with over 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and topping it with a Swarovski crystal star.
Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony Airs Live November 29
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony is a star-studded television event that airs live on NBC on the last Wednesday of November each year.
This year’s lighting ceremony will take place on Wednesday, November 29th, starting at 7 pm Eastern time. The event will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed on Peacock.
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The “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” program will be hosted by Today Show anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, and Al Roker. There will be performances by various musical guests leading up to the pivotal moment when the switch is flipped to light up the towering tree.
The tree lighting ceremony dates back to 1933 and has been broadcast on network television since 1951. Millions of viewers tune in yearly, and crowds fill the streets around Rockefeller Center to witness the lighting in person.
What Happens to the Tree After the Holidays
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree remains on display until early January when the holiday season winds down. This year the tree will be taken down on January 13, 2024.
In previous years, the trees were donated to be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity. However, recent trees have been too weak for milling due to their age and damage sustained during transport.
Instead, the trees are usually cut into massive logs donated to be submerged in rivers and lakes to create habitats for fish and other marine wildlife. It provides an eco-friendly end to a tree that brought holiday joy to millions.
History of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree tradition dates back over 90 years to 1931 when construction workers building Rockefeller Center put up the first unofficial tree.
Two years later, the first official lighting ceremony took place with a Christmas tree decorated with 700 lights. The first televised tree lighting ceremony aired in 1951.
Over the decades, the Rockefeller tree has evolved into a major production. The lighting ceremonies feature celebrity hosts and musical acts. Recent trees have been between 70 and 100 feet tall.
Millions gather each holiday season to see the iconic tree in person or watch the lighting on TV. It remains a cherished tradition for New York City and the entire country.
So as this year’s massive Norway Spruce made its way down from Vestal, the holiday season kicked off in earnest. Rockefeller Center will soon be aglow with Christmas spirit centered around one of the world’s most famous trees.