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2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: What You Need to Know

2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: What You Need to Know

The 11-ton Norway spruce will arrive and be erected at Rockefeller Center Saturday, Nov. 14.

There’s one holiday tradition in NYC the coronavirus pandemic won’t stop: the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The 2020 Rock Center tree is an 11-ton Norway spruce, which clocks in at 75 feet tall and 45 feet in diameter.

Donated by Daddy Al’s General Store in Oneonta, the tree will be cut down Nov. 12, hoisted by crane onto a flatbed truck, and make the 170-mile journey to its home for the holidays, Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan. And you’ll be able to see it standing tall at Rock Center starting Nov. 14. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for the scaffolding around the tree; it means the tree is being decorated for the annual tree lighting ceremony! While you're in Rockefeller Center getting an advanced peek at the tree before it's lit, stop by our favorite toy mecca, FAO Schwarz.

RELATED: Vote for your favorite holiday character to win $250!

2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

For more than eight decades, Rockefeller Center has celebrated the start of the holiday season with the tree lighting ceremony. This year marks the 88th year of this iconic NYC holiday tradition—and approximately 5 miles of LED lights will be illuminated! 

The 2020 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 9:45pm, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. However, there will be no public access to the ceremony; the public is invited to view the live national broadcast of Christmas in Rockefeller Center on NBC on Dec. 2 from 8-10pm.

The public can see the lit tree (and capture that perfect Christmas card image or Instagram post) daily from 6am-12am. The tree will be illuminated for 24 hours on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), and from 6am-9pm on New Year's Eve. That means there's plenty of time to skate a few laps on the Rink at Rockefeller Center under the dazzling tree.

How to See the Rockefeller Center Tree This Year

To ensure everyone's safety this year, Rockefeller Center is implementing various safety procedures, including enforced time limits, Center Plaza will be closed, and masks and social distancing.

  • Tree viewing entrances are located at 49th and 50th streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues. Once entered, visitors will follow social distancing markers to get to tree-viewing zones.
  • Each socially distant floor marker accommodates up to four people. Groups larger than four people will be split into smaller groups.
  • Social distancing will be enforced by staff and NYPD.
  • There is a 5-minute time limit to view the tree and take pictures.
  • Masks are mandatory at all times.
  • Virtual queuing will be available. Guests can scan a QR code to virtually queue when lines are long. They'll then receive a text when it's their time to return to view the tree.

What happens to the Rockefeller Center tree after Christmas?

Continuing a longstanding tradition, the 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity at the end of the holiday season. The tree will be milled, treated, and made into lumber that will be used to help build affordable homes for families.

The Start of a Tradition

The first Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was erected in 1931 by construction workers at the Rockefeller Plaza construction site. During the height of the Great Depression, the workers pooled their money together to buy a 20-foot balsam fir, which was then decorated with handmade garlands created by the workers’ families. The following year, Rockefeller Center decided to make the Christmas tree a holiday tradition and held the first tree lighting ceremony.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan. For more information, visit

Main image: The 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was cut on the morning of Nov. 12 and loaded onto a flatbed trailer. It's making its way to NYC and will be erected on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Courtesy Diane Bondareff, AP Images

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Katelin Walling

Author: Katelin Walling is the editorial director for NYMetroParents. She has been writing about parenting, health, finance, education, fun things to do in NYC and the surrounding area, and more for nearly 10 years. She also has 20+ years of child care experience and was a babysitter in NYC for 8 years. Katelin graduated from the University of Maine in 2011 and attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute during the summer of 2011. When she’s not learning about the latest parenting trend or kid-friendly NYC attraction to write about, she can often be found reading, knitting (or general crafting), or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby. See More

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