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Photograph: Filip Wolak

Everything you need to know about this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting
Written by
Adam Goldman

Granted there's not a ton of competition, but New York's most famous and most fabulous tree is going to be lighting up Rockefeller Center again this year. Tomorrow is the official lighting ceremony, and you'd better buckle up because it's about to get lit.

The tree, whose name is apparently Judy, will officially light up on December 4 sometime between 8 and 10pm. But if you want to see it in person, you'll want to get there early: A pre-show begins around 7, and it's suggested that people who want to take in all that splendor first-hand should arrive no later then 4pm. Yes, 4! You're going to be standing out in the cold for several hours, so I'd recommend layers. Lots of layers.

Luckily, you won't be alone. Aside from packing into the space like sardines with other New Yorkers, and tourists from all over the world, there'll be performances from the likes of John Legend, Brett Eldredge, Idina Menzel, Gwen Stefani, Lea Michele, Chicago, NE-YO, Straight No Chaser and others. It's like a Christmas Coachella or something. Chrismochella? Let's go with that.

Luckily for you (and all of midtown, frankly), the city is making it easier than ever to check out the tree without worrying about traffic. For the first time, the blocks surrounding Rockefeller Center are being "pedestrianized," or closed off to cars, during the afternoon every day of the holidays. From 2pm-midnight on Mondays through Thursdays, 1pm-midnight on Fridays and 10am-midnight on weekends, barricades will be in place to give pedestrians more walking room. Allegedly this hasn't caused any major traffic snarls so far, so it's pretty much a total win-win.

And if all that traffic-dodging, teeth-chattering and crowd-surfing sounds like too much to bear, you can stream the event on NBC from 8pm-10pm so nobody gets left out. I don't know that the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting is something you need to do every year, but it's a one-of-a-kind New York experience that's worth catching at some point in your life. Enjoy!

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