Rockefeller christmas tree 2018

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree arrives in New York City

Cue the tourists.

New York’s most famous holiday decoration arrived in Rockefeller Center Saturday morning.

Hundreds cheered and snapped photos as the tree hung suspended in mid-air for a few moments, its massive branches spreading open before it was positioned in its spot above the skating rink.

Once it’s secured, it will be surrounded by scaffolding for decorating with more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and a Swarovski star.

The tree will be lit during the “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” live broadcast on Dec. 4.

The tree, which Rockefeller Center revealed on Instagram in October, came from the Orange County, New York village of Florida. It was planted by Carol Schultze, 79, not long after moving into her Cedar Street home in 1958. When she bought it, it was so small that she “kept it in our house on a card table.”

“I never fertilized — I just talked to it,” Schultze said Saturday at Rockefeller Center, where she joined the crowd to watch her tree become the most famous Christmas tree in the country. She recalled that she had a bench under the tree and used to enjoy sitting beneath it.

“It just looks so much taller here than at home, I can’t believe that it was in my yard,” she said. “I’m glad everyone is going to be able to see how beautiful she is, she’s going to show herself off to the world.”

Carol Schultz hugs the trunk of her 77-foot tall Norway Spruce that she donated to serve as this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.AP

She submitted the tree for consideration by Rockefeller Center in 2010, and was disappointed she hadn’t heard back. By luck, it got a second chance.

“In early spring I was driving through the Florida area and I saw this tree and I knocked on her door,” said Erik Pauze, 53, the head gardener at Rockefeller Center. “She told me she had sent it in and I said, ‘Wow that’s great because it has to go to Rockefeller Center.’”

Pauze said Schultze’s tree fit all the requirements for the iconic role. “It has to be beautiful, it has to have a nice Christmas shape,” he said. “It’s gotta look like the kind of tree you want to put in your living room, nice and full and perfect all around.”

More than 750,000 pedestrians a day visit Rockefeller Center during the holidays, creating massive jams on midtown sidewalks. To ease the congestion, the city plans to close two lanes of traffic on Fifth Avenue between 48th and 51st streets into pedestrian zones beginning shortly after Thanksgiving.

This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a 77-foot tall, 12-ton Norway Spruce, is craned onto a flatbed truck after being cut from the yard of Carol Schultz.AP

A Brief History of the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center

In December 1931, the United States and the majority of the world were feeling the effects of the Great Depression. While trying to survive and provide in the wake of the 1929 stock-market crash, when every penny counted, a group of construction workers in New York City pooled their money together to make a purchase. It wasn’t food. It wasn’t clothes. It wasn’t fuel.

Instead, they bought a Christmas tree to stand on the site of Rockefeller Center, which was just starting to be constructed in Midtown Manhattan. The 20-foot-high (6 meters) balsam fir, adorned with home-made garlands from the workers’ families, served as a symbol of hope and optimism during the dire financial and economic times.

Construction workers line up to be paid beside the first Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York in 1931 | © AP/REX/

Little did these workers know that their Christmas tree would spur a new tradition. In 1933 a Rockefeller Center publicist initiated a tree-lighting ceremony, which has taken place at the plaza between West 48th and West 51st streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues ever since.

A camel from Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas show takes time out from its morning constitutional to nibble on the tree as it arrives in Rockefeller Center | © Dave Pickoff/AP/REX/

NBC has broadcast the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony nationally since 1951. The event, held the week after Thanksgiving, is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. The tree welcomes millions of visitors annually through the holiday season and new year, remaining on display into the first week of January.

The Radio City Rockettes perform at the 2017 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony | © Diane Bondareff/AP/REX/

The tree, typically a Norwegian spruce ranging in height from 60 feet to 100 feet (18-30 meters), is adorned with five miles (eight kilometers) of multicolored LED lights and ornaments and, as of 2018, is topped with a star that comprises 3 million Swarovski crystals.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree draws millions of visitors every year | © AP/REX/

Finding the iconic tree each year is up to the due diligence of the Rockefeller Center head gardener. Erik Pauze, who has held that title since 2010, constantly scours the region, visiting nurseries as well as fielding tips and submissions provided by homeowners. Pauze keeps an eye on potential candidates throughout the year − seeing how they fare as the seasons change − while feeding and watering the trees regularly. He makes his final decision in September, and the winning tree, which is donated by its owners, is transported to New York City in October for its big debut.

After the tree has fulfilled its duties at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, it is taken down, milled, treated and made into lumber to be used for homebuilding. The lumber has been donated to Habitat for Humanity since 2007.

The 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place 8-10pm on November 28. The tree is on display daily through 9pm on January 7, 2019. Visiting hours are 5.30am until 11.30pm.

This article is an updated version of a story first created by AJ Samuels.

The holiday season is in full swing at Rockefeller Center!

This morning, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was delivered to its new home on the plaza. The 77-foot-tall Norway spruce will stay up through the holidays, providing plenty of seasonal cheer.

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

This year’s tree comes from Florida, New York, a small town in upstate and weighs approximately 12 tons, making it about 5 feet taller and 2 tons heavier than last year’s Norway spruce. The tree, which is estimated to be between 70-75 years old, was donated by Carol Schultz and began its journey to the Big Apple on Thursday.

The story behind the 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

Nov. 9, 201902:46

“I always said, ‘You’re going to be up in Rockefeller Center someday and you’re going to be a beautiful tree when you get older,'” said Schultz, who planted the tree in 1959. “When I see the tree lit up, I’m probably going to cry.”

In addition to the bright lights, the tree will be topped with a newly redesigned star from Swarovski Crystals and famed architect Daniel Libeskind. Weighing approximately 900 pounds, the three-dimensional star features 70 spikes covered in 3 million crystals and will be illuminated with innovative LED backlighting, ensuring a stunning, sparkling display.

The “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” tree lighting ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 4, starting at 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBC. More than 50,000 multicolored LEDs will sparkle until Jan. 17, when the tree will be taken down and donated to Habitat for Humanity for use as lumber.

This year, the tree viewing period has been extended, so thousands of spectators will be able to enjoy the national holiday attraction. In past years, the tree has drawn an average of 800,000 daily visitors to the heart of New York City.

“My hope is that it will bring happiness to people, and I hope they enjoy it,” said Schultz.

After the tree is officially lit on Dec. 4, spectators will be able to view it with the lights on every day from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., all day on Christmas Day and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The tree will be lit until 7 p.m. on Jan. 17.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree’s 88 years of history

NEW YORK — Each year, thousands of spectators pack into New York City’s Rockefeller Center for one of the grandest displays of the holiday season – the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
In 2019, the 77-foot-tall tree was topped with a huge Swarovski crystal star, and Idina Menzel, Lea Michele and Ne-Yo were among the celebrity performers.

Yet originally, gathering around the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree wasn’t such a grand affair. A famous photo from 1931 shows construction workers gathering around a decorated spruce, the plaza’s first festive tree.
At the first official light two years later, the tree was decorated with only 700 lights, and at the time, Rockefeller Center was only eight months old, according to AccuWeather.
The ceremony got an upgrade in 1936 with an ice-skating pageant at its brand-new rink.
During World War II, there were three trees at Rockefeller Center – one in red, one in white, and one in blue to show support for the troops.
The holiday lighting was first broadcast in 1951 and has aired on TV ever since.
The largest tree in Rockefeller’s history was 1999’s 100-foot-tall tree from Connecticut.
The tree has made history as recently as 2017: For the first time ever, it was lit with energy-efficient LED lights powered by hundreds of solar panels on top of 30 Rockefeller.

Photos: The 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is Lit!

This year’s Rockefeller Christmas tree hails from Florida (in the state of New York) and was first purchased as a coffee table plant in 1959. It grew up to be tall and with the right proportions to be selected for the 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, adorned with more than 50,000 multi-colored energy-efficient LED lights. Topped with the Swarovski star designed by architect Daniel Libeskind that made its debut last year, the 77-foot tall tree marks the center piece of not only Rockefeller Center for the holidays but also the whole evening of celebration that began at 7 PM. Untapped New York photographer Eric Lau was on hand this year to capture the festivities.

The Norway spruce tree weights 14 tons, is 46 feet wide at widest point from branch to branch, and is approximately 70-75 years old. The star contains 3 million Swarovski crystals, weights 900 pounds and has 70 spikes.

Television hosts Mario Lopez, Stefan Holt, and Natalie Pasquarella hosted the regional hour of the special from 7 to 8 PM and Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, and Al Roker hosted the Christmas in Rockefeller Center from 8 to 9 PM, with performances by John Legend, Gwen Stefani, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, NE-YO, Skylar Astin & Alex Newell. And of course, an appearance by the Radio City Rockettes.

For us in the press area, it was a pleasure to see the head gardener of Rockefeller Center, Erik Pauze, who selects the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree each year and Carol Schultz, the donor of this year’s tree whom we saw on the day the tree was cut upstate. Also attending tonight was Daniel Libeskind, who designed the Swarovski star, but in the architecture world is also known for his master plan for the World Trade Center and the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

It’s the 87th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a tradition inaugurated by construction workers in 1931 and has become a beloved holiday event. Next, check out the secrets of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree!


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Haven’t seen the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree yet? There’s still time.

If you’re still celebrating the holiday season, you only have a few days left to see the iconic tree in Manhattan.

A staple of the holiday season in New York City for more than 80 years, the tree first arrived in Rockefeller Center Plaza on Nov. 9. The 77-foot-tall, 12-ton Norway spruce arrived from the village of Florida, New York, and was lit during the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 4.

According to Rockefeller Center, there’s just a few days left to see the tree this holiday season. The final night to view the tree covered in lights will be Jan. 11 until 10 p.m.

“The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.” –Andy Rooney
Just one week left in this Christmas Tree season. The final night to view the lights in all their glory will be January 11 until 10pm. Please visit, take lots of pictures and enjoy! 🎄
(📸: @212sid)

— Rockefeller Center (@rockcenternyc) January 4, 2020

For the 13th consecutive year, the 2019 Christmas Tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. After the holiday season is over, the tree comes down and is milled, treated and made into lumber that is used for home building.

In 1931, during the Great Depression, workers at the Rockefeller Center construction site erected and decorated a small tree, and then lined up at the tree to receive their paychecks — thankful to be working at that time.

The tree became an annual tradition in 1933, when Rockefeller Center held the first official lighting ceremony.


Thanksgiving is still almost three weeks away, but that didn’t stop the Rockefeller Center team from diving right into the holiday season on Saturday with the annual raising of the world’s most famous Christmas Tree. This year’s arboreal sacrifice arrived in front of 30 Rock from the village of Florida, New York, and it’s a doozy: 77 feet tall, 46 feet wide once all the branches settle again, and 12 tons of strapping Norway Spruce.

Carol Schultz, a long-time Florida (NY) resident had planted the beauty as a sapling in 1959, and agreed to share it with the world in the spirit of Christmas. The huge formerly-living creature was driven in overnight on the back of 115-foot-long trailer, then lifted, untrussed (this part took the longest at Saturday’s event), and “put up” by a large, capable crew of workers and engineers, with the help of a massive crane.

Dashed Arrow Scott Lynch / Gothamist

The process (see last year’s timelapse here) began around 7:30 in the morning, which, along with temps in the high-20s and very little pre-publicity, kept the crowds of spectators to a minimum. In addition to just enjoying the simple pleasure of the process, these tree guys are total pros, scampering around and inside the tree branches with ease. Other highlights of the morning included watching Schultz and her four sons and one grandson drive the spike into the tree’s base, and cadging a pinecone or errant sprig from the grounds to bring home.

By 11 a.m., the mighty spruce was hoisted and fixed firmly in place, where it’ll now get decked out in 50,000 multi-colored LED bulbs for its next show, the huge, three-hour lighting ceremony extravaganza on Wednesday, December 4th.

2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting: Everything You Need to Know

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree’s annual lighting is the most dazzling holiday season draw for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Its lighting attracted more than 20,000 people to midtown Manhattan last year and this year will likely be no different.

The 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree arrived and was placed in Rockefeller Center in New York City on Nov. 9, 2019. It is a 77-foot tall, 12-ton Norway Spruce, chosen from the property of Florida, New York resident Carolyn Schultz. Schultz was allowed the privilege of inserting the spike into the bottom of the Norway Spruce that will help the tree to stand.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City |
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s the brightest event of the year. From which celebrity performances you can look forward to seeing to what time it starts, here’s everything you need to know about the 87th annual Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting happens on Wednesday, Dec. 4

The tree will be lit at 30 Rockefeller Plaza during the 87th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 4, 2019. If you’re in New York City that day, you can watch the glorious tree lighting in person, with its 50,000 LED lights and Swarovski star. The NBC broadcast performances start at 8:00 PM and the tree is officially ‘plugged in’ sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 PM. Free and on a first-come, first-served basis, you’ll want to arrive in advance and bundle up.

If you can’t get to Rockefeller Center or just prefer to watch on TV, tune in to NBC on Dec. 4 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM EST for the live broadcast and, of course by the end of the evening, the Christmas Tree lighting! Be sure to catch NBC’s pre-show at 7:00 PM EST with Mario Lopez, Stefan Holt, and Natalie Pasquarella.

Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Al Roker push the Tree-Lighting button onstage during the 85th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center on November 29, 2017 in New York City | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Who’s hosting and who’s performing this year?

This year’s event will be hosted by Today Show anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin. Performers at this year’s ceremony include John Legend, Derek & Julianne Hough, Brett Eldredge, Idina Menzel, Gwen Stefani, Lea Michele, Chicago, NE-YO, and more.

Kellie Pickler performs during the 86th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center on November 28, 2018 in New York City. | Nicholas Hunt/WireImage

Visit the tree between Dec. 4 and Jan. 17, 2020

After the lighting, the tree is flooded with visitors. Hours for visiting are from 6:00 AM to midnight daily through Jan. 17, 2020. And on Christmas Day, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for a full 24 hours!

What happens to the tree after the holidays are over?

For over ten years, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been given to Habitat for Humanity. After the holidays are over and the holiday excitement has come to an end, the tree is taken down and transformed into lumber specifically for home building.

It’s a wonderful way to extend the spirit of the season well after it has ended.

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Are cupcakes a food group? Asking for a kickline we know.

A post shared by Rockettes (@therockettes) on Nov 20, 2019 at 5:06pm PST

A few of the world-famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Top off your NYC holiday with an unforgettable visit to Radio City Music Hall to enjoy a performance by the famous Rockettes. Visit Radio City Music Hall’s website for more information on ticket prices. The show is 90 minutes and there are three to five performances per day. The last performance is January 5, 2020.

Read more: How ‘Home Alone’ Became the Most Successful Christmas Movie of All Time