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Photograph: Filip Wolak

The 2016 Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting is happening tonight and here’s what you need to know

By
Will Gleason
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Rain or shine, the 94-foot tall Norway Spruce serving as this year’s Rockefeller Christmas Tree will be illuminated for the season tonight at 8:55pm. That’s a whopping 50,000 lights (not to mention the Swarovski Star) that will stay lit every day from 5:30am until 11:30pm until January 7. Except for Christmas Day when it’s lit for a full 24 hours. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree 2016

If you’re heading to Rockefeller Center for the official kick-off to Christmas in New York, you should know that the evening is expected to be quite damp. Heavy rainfall will most likely begin this afternoon and continue through the ceremony which begins at 7pm. (So you’ll definitely want to take advantage of that free hot cocoa, and maybe have a warm dinner nearby.) 

If a little rain isn’t enough to deter you from getting’ your tree lighting on, you’ll be able to see live performances from a number of luminaries including Tony Bennet, Dolly Parton, Josh Groban, Sarah McLachlan and Garth Brooks. Expect lots of sweaters and ornament-themed accessories. 

Crowds will probably start forming in the early afternoon, with heavy traffic expected around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall from 3pm until 11pm. From 3pm until the after the lighting ceremony, 48th, 49th, 50th and 51st streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues will be subject to closures.

Those who prefer not to ring in the holidays soaking wet can watch the event from the comfort of their own apartment. NBC will be broadcasting the ceremony from 7 to 9pm.

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