Skip to content

I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Lighting up your Christmas tree during the winter holidays is an American pastime. One special part of the Christmas season is the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It brings people together and creates beautiful moments for the people and tourists of New York City. As part of the Christmas tradition, the Rockefeller Center has a long history of joy, prosperity, and success throughout. Let’s learn more about what the lighting ceremony of the Rockefeller Christmas tree is all about and how you can participate in this joyous event.

History of Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

The first set up of the Rockefeller Christmas tree began in December 1931 when demolition workers at the Rockefeller Center construction site gathered their money together to buy a Christmas tree. The 20-feet high Balsam fir was decorated with handmade garlands by the men’s families. This is considered to be first unofficial set up of the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting. It wasn’t until 1933 when the Rockefeller Plaza opened with a 50-feet tall tree labeled the holiday beacon for New Yorkers. Since then, the skating rink opened in 1936 and the Rockefeller tree became a traditional stable in an American tradition.

Since 1933, there have been many historical moments at the Rockefeller Center involving lighting the Christmas tree. In 1942, workers put up a modest selection of multiple trees and from 1944 to 1945 the trees went unlit due to blackout regulations and the effects of WWII. Many other changes have included the addition of recycling the trees and using LED lights to decorate in order to save energy and money. Another tradition that has occurred is the singing of the song Joy to the World by people during the lighting ceremony since 2011. Today, more than half a million people see the tree each day from its first lighting to its takedown after the new years holiday.

How to Celebrate Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

One of the best ways to see the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree is to take a trip to New York City and see the lighting with you and your loved ones. While you’re there, you can tag your friends on social media and use the hashtag #RockefellerCenter and #ChristmasTreeLighting to show how awesome the lighting ceremony is. If you can’t afford to see it in person, find the NBC channel through your cable network or through a live stream and see if from the comfort of your home.

Also on ...

View all holidays

National Square Dancing Day

Get ready to do-si-do and promenade with a lively group of friends to the sound of fiddles and calls in this fun social dance tradition.

Electronic Greetings Day

Sending digital greetings feels like sharing a piece of your heart through the internet, spreading joy, love, or a good laugh with just a click.

View all holidays

We think you may also like...

National Lighthouse Day

Often used as metaphors, lighthouses are the beautiful towers that keep ships safe in the night. Visit one to appreciate their majesty and mystery.

Smart Home Day

Embracing modern technology's harmonious integration into our living spaces, ushering in a new era of convenience and efficiency.

International Day for Monuments and Sites

Exploring historical landmarks offers a captivating journey through time, unveiling stories etched in the architecture and landscapes.


National Library Week

Silent realms of knowledge, these havens harbor stories and wisdom, inviting exploration beyond the whispers of time.