holidays

Lines and Order: What Visitors Can Expect at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree This Year

NBC Universal, Inc.

The annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center is on schedule, but visiting the tree - like the rest of 2020 - will look different than in years past.

Official details will be announced Monday, but NBC New York has learned what visitors can expect this year: monitored entrances, socially distanced lines and a limited window to snap pictures.

Mayor Bill de Blasio teased some of the plans at his Sunday press conference. Like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade held last week, the mayor says visiting the tree will be a scaled-down event.

"This is not a spectator event as it is in the past," he said. "What we do not want and can't have is large crowds of people crowding in there."

Several streets immediately surrounding Rockefeller Center could be closed off again following the steps taken last year to provide additional space and safety for visitors. The mayor stopped short Sunday of detailing exactly what the closures would look like this year.

The Rockefeller Center tree lighting festivities start at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 2. Due to pandemic and social distancing restrictions, there will be no public access to the plaza for the lighting ceremony.

After the ceremony, the plaza will be open as per usual, and the public will be able to view it fully lit up from 6 a.m. ET to Midnight each day; on Christmas day it will be lit for 24 hours. But bring a mask, and make your memories from a safe social distance.

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The tree is currently being decorated with more than 50,000 multicolored LED lights strung on approximately 5 miles of wire. It will be topped with a three-dimensional star that weighs approximately 900 pounds and is covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals.

A small town tree made its big city debut at Rockefeller Center for the 2020 holiday season. Gus Rosendale reports.
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