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Here's everything you need to know about the Rockefeller Center tree lighting

Get ready to kick off your holiday season as the plaza gets "spruced" up!
/ Source: TODAY

If you weren't sure already, here's how we know the calendar has clicked over to become the "most wonderful time of the year": The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has arrived, and is now scheduled for its 89th annual lighting ceremony!

Every year since 1931 a different giant tree has been selected for the honor of standing in Rockefeller Plaza (home to TODAY and NBC), and the lighting ceremony has been broadcast live around the world since 1951. This year, the annual event will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

88th annual Rockefeller Tree Lighting
Rockefeller Center's tree, and surrounding plaza area, from 2020. Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Last year was a strange one for the ceremony, coming as it did mid-pandemic lockdown. That tree was perhaps not the lush, full wonder everyone had come to expect, but it did bring us an adorable stowaway. But this year's tree seems ready to make up for lost time, based on a glorious Instagram image of it before it was taken down and shipped to New York.

Still, we know what you're really asking: How can you see the ceremony? What stars will be there? And how can you go visit the tree once it's bright and shining? Well, settle down and keep reading. We have all the answers!

2021 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Arrives
The 2021 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree being pulled into place on Nov. 13. It's the first such tree to come from Maryland. Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

8 facts about the 2021 Rockfeller Christmas tree

  • It's 79 feet tall and 46 feet wide
  • It's a Norway spruce from Elkton, Maryland, a first-time donation from the state
  • The tree is 80 years old
  • It weighs 12 tons
  • The tree will be decorated with over 50,000 multicolored, energy-efficient LED lights
  • It'll be topped by a Swarovski Star, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind in 2018.
  • The topper includes 3 million Swarovski crystals on 70 triangular spikes and weighs about 900 pounds
  • When the tree comes down sometime in January, the wood will be milled into lumber and donated to Habitat for Humanity.

When is the Rockefeller tree lighting?

The Rockefeller Center tree lighting festivities start at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 1. This will be part of the "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" live special on NBC.

After that, the tree will be turned on daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., then be illuminated for 24 hours on Christmas Day. On New Year's Eve, it'll be lit up from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Christmas in Rockefeller Center - Season 2019
(From l.-r.) TODAY's Craig Melvin, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker during the 2019 Christmas in Rockefeller Center lighting.Nathan Congleton / NBC

How to watch the Rockefeller tree lighting:

Last year the ceremony was closed off to the public for COVID safety related reasons, but this year it will be open to the public again. But the best (and likely warmest) view really will be from home on NBC, where the special begins at 8 p.m., hosted by TODAY anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin and Al Roker will host the festivities.

Ahead of the prime-time telecast, though, an additional hour of programming will be available on NBC-owned TV stations and affiliates, beginning at 7 p.m. Check your local listings. This additional live hour will be hosted by "Access Daily and Access Hollywood's" Mario Lopez, plus NBC 4 New York's Natalie Pasquarella and David Ushery.

Kelly Clarkson, Harry Connick Jr. and Brad Paisley are just some of the confirmed performers for the ceremony's broadcast on Dec. 1.
Kelly Clarkson, Harry Connick Jr. and Brad Paisley are just some of the confirmed performers for the ceremony's broadcast on Dec. 1.Getty Images

Who'll be performing at the Rockefeller tree lighting?

Throughout the festivities, expect appearances and performances from:

And more! Stay tuned for more announcements.

Where can I see the Rockefeller Christmas tree in person?

The plaza will open after the ceremony for business as usual, and the tree will be on public display between West 49th and 50th streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues in New York City.