New York City celebrates the holidays in a big way., and, one of the most festive occasions is the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. This year (2011) “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” (as it has become known) takes place on Wednesday, November 30th (which is the Wednesday after Thanksgiving) from 7PM to 9PM with the tree being lit at approximately 8:55PM. The event will be televised live on NBC television, check your local tv listings for more information for your viewing area.
The 2011 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will arrive in early November, and, be hoisted into place, and, surrounded by scaffolding in order to allow workers to string the lights on Friday, November 11, 2011. After the lighting ceremony on Wednesday, November 30th the tree will remain lit throughout the holiday season from 5:30AM – 11:30PM daily, and, on Christmas Day the tree is lit for 24 hours straight. The lights are officially turned off before 9PM on New Year’s Eve (December 31st) in anticipation of the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.
If you are planning to be in Manhattan for the 2011 lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, you’ll need to plan accordingly. People begin arriving as early as 12 noon or 1PM to claim their viewing spot, and, as the actual event draws closer streets surrounding Rockefeller Center begin to be shut down by the NYC Police Department. By 7PM there are tens of thousands of people surrounding Rockefeller Center and its immediate areas.
Regardless if you are a local or a visitor you need to be aware that this will be a gridlock alert day, and, everyone will be urged to take public transportation. The DOT has a website where you can view alternative travel methods around NYC: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/commutingoptions.shtml and for specific traffic information you can keep updated at 511NY.org.
For visitors coming out of town, and, require a hotel for their stay to watch the Christmas tree lighting, now is the time to book. Unlike many other locations throughout the world, late November and all of December are considered peak times in New York City, and, hotels are in extremely high demand, and, prices will be at or near their highest for the year.
One thing is certain, there is something very special about watching the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in person. There is a feeling of comradery, and, general happiness that is hard to find any other time of the year in New York City, and, it is truly a worthwhile experience.
Stay tuned throughout the remainder of the summer and the fall for updates about Christmas at Rockefeller Center 2011 including special guests and performers, and, other holiday trip ideas and suggestions.