Rockefeller Christmas Tree lights up NYC: How to watch, traffic, things to do

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City is lit on November 30, 2022. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

It will officially look a lot like Christmas later today in New York City. 

Over 50,000 multicolored LED lights (nearly 5 miles long) will be lit up Wednesday evening. 

The 91st annual tree lighting ceremony starts at 7 p.m.

The 80-year-old, 80-foot-tall, 12-ton Norway Spruce will also feature a 900-pound 3D Swarovski star with 70 spikes and 3 million crystals.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30: A view of the Swarovski Star atop the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree during the 2022 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center on November 30, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by John

FEATURED: Rockefeller Christmas tree makes its grand arrival to NYC

FEATURED: Christmas in NYC 2023: Markets, shows, tree lightings, bars to see this holiday season

Rockefeller Christmas Tree times

On Wednesday the tree will light up just before 10 p.m.

After that, the tree will be lit every day from 5 a.m. to midnight until January 13th at 10:00 p.m. 

On Christmas, the tree will light up for 24 hours, and on New Year’s Eve, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where to see the tree lighting

Entry points to see the tree will open around 4 p.m. near 48th Street and 6th Avenue and 51st Street and 6th Avenue. 

Handicapped viewing is located on the southwest corner of 49th Street and Rock Plaza. 

ROCKEFELLER CENTER, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2015/12/10: An officer from the NYPD's Strategic Response Group watches vehicular traffic along Seventh Avenue as he stands near his service vehicle. Amid growing concern for the possibility of a terr

According to the NYPD, the following items are prohibited at the ceremony: 

  • Lawn chairs
  • Blankets
  • Large coolers
  • Large bags
  • Backpacks
  • Umbrellas
  • Alcohol

The NYPD is also preparing for protests near the tree. Advocacy pages are sharing a call to action for the "Flood the Tree Lighting for Gaza" rally, scheduled for 6 p.m. at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan.

Authorities are looking to avoid repeat disruptions seen recently at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and on Black Friday.

NYPD road closures & traffic

@NYPDnews via X: "It's [almost] the most wonderful time of the year... If you plan to see the lighting of NYC's famous tree at@rockcenternyc, be advised of the following road closures & pedestrian crossings."

Morning road closures

Beginning at 11 a.m. East 50th Street and East 49th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenue will be closed. 

Afternoon road closures

Starting at 1 p.m. East 51st and East 48th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be closed. 

The NYC Department of Transportation put out an alert to be aware of the Gridlock Alert Days after the tree lighting. 

2023 Gridlock days

  • Wednesday, November 29
  • Thursday, November 30
  • Friday, December 1
  • Tuesday, December 5
  • Wednesday, December 6
  • Thursday, December 7
  • Friday, December 8
  • Tuesday, December 12
  • Wednesday, December 13
  • Thursday, December 14
  • Friday, December 15

NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 26: A Christmas Tree, shines over the ice-skating people at Bryant Park in New York City, USA on December 26, 2017. (Photo by Atlgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Things to do at Rockefeller Center

There's plenty to do around the Rockefeller Christmas Tree this holiday season. Tickets for most activities start around $20.

The Rink

Ice skating at Rockefeller is a popular winter activity in NYC.  General admission starts at $21.  Non-skating admission for chaperons or sightseers is free. 

Get your tickets here. 

Top of the Rock

Go up 70 floors to the outdoor observation deck to get some of the best views of NYC. 

Tickets start at $40. 

Get your tickets here.

Rinkside Chalets

Enjoy food and drinks in a private chalet overlooking the rink for $10. Each chalet seats up to six adults for 50 minutes.

Get your tickets here. 

Christmas photos

Get all the sparkly lights and magic of the iconic tree in a professional photo at Rockefeller Center.  One photo goes for $40. 

Get your tickets here

The tree will be taken down on January 13, 2024 at 10:00 p.m.