NYC Traveler in NYC: Christmas in Rockefeller Center

March 24, 2021
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Rockefeller Center, New York City

1. Tree location: the square block of 5th and 6th Avenues between West 49th and West 50th Streets. The tree is chosen, cut down, transported and decorated culminating with a nationally televised tree-lighting televised ceremony. Normally, the ceremony is very well attended, in case you would like to go. Each step of the process is documented by local news, so you can see it in stages.

Rockefeller Center ice rink

2. Tip: Normally, the crowds are massive, but there may be timed entries, so plan accordingly. There will be certain areas blocked off to vehicular traffic and there are guard rails for crossing the street. Go before a show lets out, early in December or even after January 1.  The tree stays up sometimes up to a week after the New Year, so the crowds will be significantly less.
St. Patrick's Cathedral Nativity scene



3. If it seems like the lights are not as brilliant as they used to be, they are LED. Also, they do not burn 24 hours a day. They do not burn all night (except sometimes on Christmas Day), probably for environmental as well as security reasons. 

Rockefeller Center

4. Ice skating is available in the rink. The lines tend to be long at peak times. For an alternative, check out Bryant Park (the square block of 42nd and 41st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues) or Wollman Rink in Central Park.

Wollman Rink, Central Park

5. What else is there to do? St. Patrick's Cathedral at 5th Avenue between East 50th and East 51st Streets is open to the public and is especially beautiful at Christmas time. The light and sound show on the face of Saks Fifth Avenue (611 5th Avenue between East 49th and East 50th Streets) draws a massive crowd. There is a countdown clock so that you can catch it from the beginning.  


Light and sound display, Saks Fifth Avenue, NYC

6. Take in a show at Radio City Music Hall, 6th Avenue between West 50th and West 51st. Streets. Across the street from there, admire the decorations. Subject to closings for safety reasons.


Rockefeller Center  Subway: E, M to 5th Ave/53rd St; B,D,F,M to 47-50th Rock Center; Bus: M5, M7, M50.


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