The Naked Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Think New York at Christmas time and what immediately pops into your head? The colorful lights and stories high evergreen of the gigantic Rockefeller Christmas Tree? I’d say it’s NYC’s biggest Christmas cliché. And if I say it’s the biggest, you better believe it.

Classic NYC Christmas via

Last night was the tree lighting ceremony for this iconic fur. I was all torn up about it. I had to go, right? It’s an ultimate New York cliché! But the other cliché is that no one who actually lives in NYC attends this event. Unlike the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which is attended by a fair number of locals, the Rockefeller tree lighting is notoriously for tourists. Why? Because locals know they can stop by the next night, or any other night of the week and the tree will look as beautiful as it did when it was first lit. We won’t wait hours in cold, claustrophobic, Christmas hoopla for something we’ll be able to see the whole rest of the month!

I love playing tourist in my own town. That’s super obvious. But my local sensibility (and snobbery) won out this time. I’ll see the tree all lit up at some point. On a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday night, probably after 9:30PM- that’s the time to go, the crowd will be manageable.

I walked through Rockefeller Center on Monday evening. It was rainy, remarkably few people were out. The tree was all up and ready, a solid green. Naked. It was actually beautiful just like that. A reminder that it’s a piece of nature, a stark contrast to all the surrounding concrete. A natural beauty. Sure she looks good all jazzed up with glittery lights. But I almost like the pristine green better.

rockefeller christmas tree 1
I count 10 stories tall! That is one big and tall, beautiful tree! She makes the iconic deco statue look miniscule.
rockefeller christmas tree 2
Take all the pictures you want, but you’re never gonna get very close. She’s the ultimate holiday VIP (VIT?) after all.
rockefeller christmas tree ice skating
Ice skaters below (not too many of them!) and snow flakes above- projected on the buildings. It wasn’t even the night of the big event, I wonder if they’ll be projected all month long.
rockefeller christmas tree 4
The rest of the year, Rockefeller Center features flags from countries around the world. For Christmas they replace them with these silver flags. I guess they don’t want anything to compete with the tree, but the feeling of worldly camaraderie is a bit missed!
rockefeller christmas tree beautiful
The iconic shot. The simple blue, green, yellow, and black is striking, no? So beautiful.

So I say now. I haven’t seen it all lit up yet this year! Betcha I’ll change my tune!

Have any of you been to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting? How was it? Are there fun Christmas tree lightings in your area that aren’t crazy crowded but just fun and festive? Are you looking forward to seeing NYC holiday cheer & clichés on my blog this month (if you are, I may feature more posts!)?

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

6 thoughts on “The Naked Rockefeller Christmas Tree

  1. The weather was also SO miserable on Wednesday, so I say you made the right choice! I’ve never been to this and, like you, don’t really have much of an inkling to go… instead I think I’ll stick to ones in my neighborhood – they’ll be much cuter!
    Lydia recently posted……visited the 9/11 MuseumMy Profile

  2. You MUST go see the Macy’s and Bergdorf holiday windows. My mom and I have been making a day of walking from Macy’s, up Fifth to Bergdorf’s ever year for as long as I can remember. And that route takes you past some of my favorite NYC Christmas landmarks, including St. Pat’s nativity scene. But the windows are my favorite, and a total NYC cliche. Macy’s is super touristy with slow-moving lines of kids pressing their noses to the windows. And then Bergdorf’s is the epitome of Fifth Avenue glam with their themed, high-fashion windows. Love, love, love.

  3. I went to the Christmas Tree lightning. The best part of the whole ceremony was actually The countdown to the tree lighting up. I mean I met some great people, but the singers and waiting time was absurd. It is a cool experience though even though it is cliché.
    Alexis recently posted…A Cliche Day in New York CityMy Profile

  4. I’d love to see NYC at Christmas but I bet it’s absolutely PACKED with people. If you have any tips on how to enjoy NYC around these times and see all the things you have to see, without getting swallowed by mobs, then I’d love to hear them.
    Charlotte Steggz recently posted…Friday Links December 12thMy Profile

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