While we have barely finished the turkey and pumpkin pie leftovers, NBC will be kicking off the Christmas season with the 86th annual holiday special, Christmas in Rockefeller Center on Wednesday, November 28 beginning at 8:00 p.m.
Coming together for the purpose of lighting the official Christmas tree at the Center, the special will include live performances by Diana Ross, Tony Bennett & Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, Diana Krall, John Legend (who’s own TV special follows), Martina McBride, Pentatonix, Kellie Pickler, Ella Mai, Rob Thomas, the Radio City Rockettes and a special scene from the New York City’s Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
The special will be hosted by the crew from the Today show anchors Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Craig Melvin ending with the annual tree lighting.
The special will kick off an hour early in select markets on the East Coast and will feature Billy Porter, the PAL Cops & Kids Chorus in New York City and a special introduction by Tony Danza.
The regional part of the special will be co-hosted by Mario Lopez and WNBC’s Stefan Holt and Natalie Pasquarella. The extra hour also includes extra music by Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynn Farmer, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler.
The very first Christmas tree put on display at Rockefeller Center was in 1931. Lit up with 700 lights, it was placed in front of the RCA building (which now belongs to Comcast).
Five years later, the area included the now iconic Rockefeller Plaza ice-skating pond which has been included in many holiday-themed movies over the years.
The lighting of the tree was first televised in 1951 during The Kate Smith Show. It is always held on the Wednesday following Thanksgiving and has been broadcast live on NBC since 1997.
This year’s tree is a 75-year-old Norway Spruce from Wallkill, New York. It stands 72 feet tall, stretches out 45-feet wide and weighs about 12 tons.
It will be adorned with over 50,000 LED lights (a far cry from the original 700 in 1933) and a 9-foot tall 3-D star that will feature 70 spike-like “rays” covered with three million Swarovski crystals. It will stand proudly in place until January 7, 2019.
NBCUniversal is also celebrating 10 years working with the Arbor Day Foundation donating $50,000 to help restore tree canopies across the states.