As usual, it’s a majestic Norway spruce, 79-foot tall. But for the first time, the tree is from Maryland. For the past 90-ish years of the tradition, the holiday tree has come from Upstate New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania, and as far away as Canada.
The 2021 tree is from the town of Elkton, Maryland. It’s being cut down on Nov. 11 and arrives in Rockefeller Center two days later, on Nov. 13, after a 140-mile drive.
“Meet the 2021 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree!” Rockefeller Center’s official account posted to Twitter, along with a photo of the towering pine.
The tree will be decorated with 50,000 energy-efficient multi-colored LED lights on about five miles of wire, and topped with a 900-lb. Swarovski star, complete with 70 spikes and three million sparkling crystals. The three-dimensional star was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind in 2018.
It will be lit for the season on Dec. 1, in what is always a glittering ceremony filled with entertainment.
The tree will be lit daily from 6am-12am. On Christmas Day, the tree is lit for 24 hours, and on New Year’s Eve it is lit from 6am to 9pm.
The tree stays in place through the first weekend in January.
Avoid gridlock and take the subway to see the tree. These stations are closest:
The closest subway stop is 47-50 Sts-Rockefeller Center on the B,D,F,M. This stop has an elevator, making it accessible for seniors and for families with young children, including strollers.
The 50th St. stop on the #1 is one block further away, as is the 49 St station on the N,R,W.
The 5 Avenue-53 St E stop has a long escalator, which may be inconvenient for families with strollers.
The 51st St. stop on the #6 is at Lexington Ave., a three block walk to the tree.
Tree origin – Elkton, Md
Tree height – 79 feet
Tree width – 46 feet
Tree weight – 12 tons
Tree age – Approx. 85 years.
Continuing a longstanding tradition, the tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and made into lumber that will be used to help build affordable homes for families.
More About the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The holiday tree tradition began in 1933, when the Rockefeller Center complex was under construction, and workers chipped in to buy a small tree, which was decorated by garlands made by their families. The following year, Rockefeller Center decided to make it a holiday tradition and held the first tree lighting ceremony.
Norway spruce is the top choice because of its characteristics of a straight trunk and the ability to resist wind. Also its size, since a mature Norway spruce can be 80 to 100 feet tall, which matches Rockefeller Center’s height requirements.
It takes Rockefeller Center gardeners a full year to find the perfect tree, which has to be at least 70 feet tall and with lush, even branches all around. You “shouldn’t be able to see the sky through it,” according to head gardener Erik Pauze, who often visits a tree several times over the year, just to make sure it’s the right choice.
Since 2007, the same LED lights are used each year, although their total number has grown from around 30,000 to around 50,000. The LED lights are also more energy-efficient than previous decorations.
Read more about the history of the tree here.
The 12 iconic angels first decorated the Channel Gardens in 1955, and were rotated annually with other magical creatures including snowmen and jack-in-the-boxes. They became a permanent annual presence beginning in 1975.
Read more about the angels and the artist who created them here.
All photos courtesy Rockefeller Center.