NEW YORK — With Christmas just over a month away, NBC kicks off the holiday season with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in the heart of New York City with “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” airing Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m.
In addition, the broadcast will simulcast live on Peacock streaming service.
Viewers will be treated to performances by Alessia Cara, Harry Connick Jr., Mickey Guyton, Norah Jones, Brad Paisley, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood and more. The evening will include a duet featuring Paisley and Thomas and a special performance by the Radio City Rockettes.
NBC News’ “TODAY” co-anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin will host the highly anticipated holiday special.
Prior to the primetime telecast, an additional live hour of the special will be broadcast on all NBC Owned Television Stations and on numerous NBC affiliates from coast-to-coast, starting at 7 p.m. This special live hour will be hosted by “Access Daily and Access Hollywood’s” Mario Lopez along with NBC 4 New York’s Natalie Pasquarella and David Ushery.
“After a year in which we weren’t able to have people join us in person, this tree-lighting ceremony will be incredibly monumental to those who can both attend and the millions of people who watch it across the country,” said Doug Vaughan, Executive Vice President, Special Programs, NBCU Television and Streaming. “It’s truly an event that continues to inspire and a wonderful way to begin the holiday season.”
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to 1931 during the Great Depression. The first official tree-lighting ceremony occurred two years later in 1933 in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building (the current Comcast Building). The Christmas tree gathering was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice-skating rink. NBC-TV televised the tree lighting for the first time in 1951 on “The Kate Smith Show” and as part of the nationwide “Howdy Doody” television show from 1953-55.
The 89th annual holiday special will celebrate the lighting of a 79-foot tall, 46-foot wide Norway Spruce from Elkton, MD. The tree weighs approximately 12 tons, will be adorned with more than 50,000 multi-colored energy efficient LED lights and topped with a stunning Swarovski star.
NBCUniversal will continue its partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation for the 13th year in a row to support tree-planting efforts across the United States. This year NBCUniversal will plant 25,000 trees in areas that have been affected by wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. The Arbor Day Foundation is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees, having helped to plant more than 400 million trees since it was founded almost 50 years ago.
Continuing a longstanding tradition, after the tree leaves Rockefeller Center it will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and milled into lumber that will be used for home building.
“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” is produced by Brad Lachman Productions. Brad Lachman and Bill Bracken serve as executive producers. Debbie Palacio directs.