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Everything You Need to Know About the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

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Follow NBC New York on YouTubeInstagramFacebook and Twitter for exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photos from the lighting ceremony.

The Rockefeller Center tree is set to be illuminated Wednesday in a festive ceremony, but spectators should expect some security restrictions, be aware of street closures and prepare for cold and blustery weather.

Mario Lopez, Stefan Holt and Natalie Pasquarella will kick off the pre-show at 7 p.m. EST on NBC. “Today” anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin will then greet the entire country for the 87th annual “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” from 8 to 10 p.m.

Despite mostly cloudy skies, New York City should stay dry for the festivities and temperatures in the low 40s shouldn’t be too bad for those standing in the cold.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE: You can watch the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting on your devices by click here or tapping the “Live TV” button on your NBC New York mobile app, and logging in with your TV provider.

Crowds are expected to form in the late afternoon and police say drivers should expect heavy traffic and avoid the vicinity of Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Police also say the following roads will be subject to closures on Wednesday:

  • 5th Avenue between 46th Street and 52nd Street
  • 6th Avenue between 46th Street and 52nd Street
  • 46th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 47th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 48th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 49th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 50th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 51st Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 52nd Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • Rockefeller Plaza between 48th Street and 51st Street

 

All spectators attending will pass through a security screening and spots are first come, first served. People are urged to use mass transit to attend the event. Umbrellas, backpacks, large bags, coolers and alcoholic beverages are prohibited, police said.

The tree’s lights will be illuminated every day from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. through January 6 and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on January 7, 2019.

On Christmas Day, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for a full 24 hours.

Throughout the night, there will be performances from a star-fueled lineup, including this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive” John Legend, Derek & Julianne Hough, Brett Eldredge, Idina Menzel, Gwen Stefani, Lea Michele, Chicago, NE-YO, Straight No Chaser, Skylar Astin and Alex Newell.

Dazzling Rockefeller Center Christmas Trees From Years PastDazzling Rockefeller Center Christmas Trees From Years Past

The 87th annual holiday celebration will feature a 77-foot tall Norway spruce from Florida, New York. The 60-year-old tree weights 14 ton and was donated by Carol Schultz. The tree will be wrapped in five miles of multi-colored lights and topped with a brand new, 900-pound star made of Swarovski crystals.

After the tree is taken down January 7, it will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

Here are some historical facts about the Rockefeller Center Tree:

• 1931 – Construction workers building Rockefeller Center put up a Christmas tree, the first-ever Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

• 1933 – First formal Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree was decked with 700 lights in front of the eight-month-old RCA Building.

• 1936 – Two trees, each 70 feet (21.3 m) tall, were erected. For the first time the Lighting Ceremony included a skating pageant on the newly opened Rockefeller Plaza Outdoor Ice Skating Pond.

• 1942 – Three trees were placed on Rockefeller Plaza, one decorated in red, one in white and one in blue to show support for our troops serving during World War II.

• 1949 – The tree was painted silver, to look like snow.

• 1951 – The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit for the first time on national television on the Kate Smith Show.

• 1966 – The first tree from outside the United States was erected. It was given by Canada, in honor of the Centennial of its Confederation. This is the farthest distance a tree has traveled to Rockefeller Center.

• 1980 – For the 50th Anniversary of Tree Lighting, a 70 foot-tall (21.3 m) Norway Spruce came from the grounds of the Immaculate Conception Seminary of Mahwah, N.J. Bob Hope participated in the Lighting.

• 1999 – The largest tree in Rockefeller Center history, 100 feet tall (30.5 m), came from Killingworth, Conneticut.

• 2004 – The Swarovski-designed star became the largest star to ever grace the tree.

• 2007 – For the first time, the tree was lit with energy-efficient LEDs. They draw a fraction of the power that had been traditionally required by the tree, reducing energy consumption from 3,510 kwH to 1,297 kwH per day, saving as much energy as a single family would use in a month in a 2,000 square foot (185.8 m²) home. Hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller Center buildings help power the new LEDs.

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National Christmas Tree Lighting: How to Watch, Road Closures to Know

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A D.C. holiday tradition is set for Thursday night. The National Christmas Tree outside the White House will be illuminated during a ceremony with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

Here’s everything you need to know, from the broadcast schedule to road closures to how (and when) to see the tree in person.

PHOTOS: White House Christmas Decorations UnveiledPHOTOS: White House Christmas Decorations Unveiled

If You Have Tickets

Tickets have already been distributed via a free lottery. If you were able to snap some up, be prepared for road closures and the usual rush hour traffic, so consider taking Metrorail (or a bus). The closest Metro stations are Farragut West and McPherson Square on the Blue, Orange or Silver lines.

You should also be prepared to go through security checkpoints, so make sure you allocate enough time to get through. Plan to be in your seat by 4:30 p.m., a National Parks spokesperson said. The show will begin at 5 p.m.

The tree lighting will be held on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. The Ellipse is also bordered by Constitution Avenue NW to the south, and 17th and 15th streets NW to the west and east.

Singer-songwriter Jessie James Decker is set to host.

How to Watch Without Tickets

If you haven’t already scored tickets, you’re out of luck. However, you’ll still be able to view the lighting ceremony on TV — you’ll just have to wait a few days. The ceremony will air twice Monday night, on REELZ at 8 p.m. and on Ovation at 9 p.m.

What to Know About Road Closures

As usual with major events in D.C., there will be road closures for the lighting ceremony. The following streets will be closed to vehicular traffic from about 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday:

  • 17th Street between Pennsylvania and Independence avenues SW
  • C Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • D Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • E Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • F Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • G Street between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • New York Avenue between 17th and 18th streets NW
  • Constitution Avenue between 18th and 14th streets NW
  • 15th Street between H Street and Madison Drive NW (traffic will be allowed to flow south on 15th Street from Madison Drive)
  • Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • E Street between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • F Street between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • G Street between 14th and 15th streets NW
  • New York Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW


Several roads will be closed on Dec. 5, 2019, for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

Photo credit: News4

All street closures and listed times are subject to change, police warn.

In addition, the following streets will be posted as “Emergency No Parking” from about 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday:

  • 17th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues NW
  • Constitution Avenue between 18th and 14th streets NW
  • 15th Street between H Street and Constitution Avenue NW

Any vehicles parked in violation of the “no parking” signs will be ticketed and towed, D.C. police warn.

Drivers could encounter delays in the area and may want to consider alternative routes, police said. Drivers should also be careful due to increased pedestrian traffic in the area.

How to Visit the Pathway of Peace

Outdoor holiday displays will light up the White House Ellipse throughout the month.

The Pathway of Peace, the walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree, will feature 56 trees, representing each state and territory, plus the District of Columbia — all decorated with unique handmade ornaments. It will be free and open to the public starting Monday and continuing through New Year’s Day.

In addition, you’ll be able to catch free 30-minute music and dance performances on the Ellipse stage from Dec. 11 to 22, excluding Dec. 16.

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Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ Turns 25 With Broadway Musical, Tour

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Alanis Morissette’s breakthrough album “Jagged Little Pill” is celebrating its 25th birthday on Broadway.

The rock musical, set to open Thursday night at Broadhurst Theatre, features the Canadian singer’s most iconic hits, including “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know” and “Hand in My Pocket,” plus two new songs she wrote for the show. Morissette’s powerful lyrics highlight a suburban family’s struggle with addiction, gender and sex as they harbor secrets while trying to maintain a perfect image. 

The show was written by Diablo Cody and directed by Diane Paulus. It stars actors Elizabeth Stanley, Derek Klena, Lauren Patten, Sean Allan Krill, Celia Gooding and Kathryn Gallagher.

Morissette is also hitting the road in 2020 with singer Liz Phair and rock band Garbage to commemorate the album’s anniversary.

See This Year’s White House Christmas Decorations

[NATL] See This Year's White House Christmas Decorations

“Going on tour next summer with special guests @garbage and @PhizLair to celebrate 25 years of jagged little pill and the last 25 years of music,” she said Wednesday on Twitter.

The 31-stop tour starts in June on the west coast, stopping at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, before heading south, up the east coast and back around to the Midwest. It ends in Nashville on July 25. Tickets go on sale on Dec. 13. 

“Jagged Little Pill” was released in 1995 to worldwide acclaim. It topped the charts in 13 countries and won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Rock Song for “You Oughta Know.”

Morissette’s next album, “Such Pretty Forks in the Road,” is set to be released in May.

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Rapper Rich Brian Gets Vulnerable About His Asian Identity, Immigration Story

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Rapper Rich Brian is a child of the internet.

The Indonesian-born rapper taught himself English through YouTube, mastered dry web humor on Twitter, and discovered the alluring art of hip-hop while in front of his computer screen, NBC News reported. But perhaps most significantly, the internet prompted his fascination with American culture — a world, he says, he felt drawn to and virtually connected with as he spent a large chunk of his teen years immersed in all things American.

Roughly two years after moving stateside, the artist just concluded “The Sailor” tour Monday to promote his sophomore album of the same name. The new music is steeped in the weighty themes of Asian identity and the immigrant experience and is, in part, his assessment of his own journey to America. It’s also an ode to those who came before him.

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