Surviving The 2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting


Once a year my cousins and I who live in different provinces in Canada head to New York City for a family vacation.  Generally we go in November, but this year we decided to go in December to enjoy all the Christmas lights and decorations.  We all agreed it was a great way to get into the Holiday spirit.  When we booked our trip we really had no plans to go to The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, since the event is generally held at the end of November.

A couple of months after making our reservations my cousin discovered that we would be in New York City during the 81st Annual Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting.   The list of musical guests slated to appear included Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Goo Goo Dolls, Ariana Grande and Jewel performing current hits and holiday classics.  We were all beyond excited.

Although we read that tens of thousands would crowd the sidewalks for the event, we thought it was an exaggeration.  The ceremony was taking place on December 4th, 2013 from 7-9pm and we all agree that getting to Rockefeller Center at 3PM would be early enough.  This was our first mistake.  As we walked to Rockefeller Center we snapped some photos of the magical decorations along the way.


It was a cold brisk evening and several of us had not dressed properly and we were soon chilled to the bone.  As we got closer to the event the crowds got larger and the security more robust.


We decided to head into the event by going up 50th street.  The street was partially blocked off and police were checking purses before we could go through the barricades.  Absolutely no backpacks were allowed to proceed to the event.  Once we got past security as we walked closer there were 1000s of people.  At that point we knew 3PM was far too late to get us close to the event.  We were adrift in a sea of people being buffeted about by the crowds and could not even see the tree.  Being 5 foot 2 all I could see were people.  One of my cousins who is 6 feet tall could catch a glimpse of the tree.  I asked her to lift me on her shoulders but she didn’t think that was a great idea.


Then I got the bright idea, or at least I thought so at the time, to head to 5th avenue and walk to Saks Fifth Avenue, then cross the street and go into Rockefeller Center that way.  My reasoning was that even if there were crowds because we were facing the tree head on at least we would be able to see it.  As we headed towards 5th avenue we found many streets blocked and barricaded and had to go through several detours.  It took us a long time but we finally arrived in front of Saks Fifth Avenue below is a photo of the crowds of people we faced.  We made a unanimous decision to skip the tree lighting, go to dinner, warm up and come back the following day to see the tree.


The next day when we came back we got to see the tree lit up.  There were still 1000s of people but at least we could get close to it.


The tree this year is a 76-foot Norway Spruce and from Shelton, Conn. Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned on the lights just before 9 p.m., setting off a dazzling 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and a 9 1/2-foot-wide Swarovski star that topped the 12-ton

The moral of the story, if you want to go to the 2014 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting get there much earlier than 4 hrs before, dress warm, no backpacks and make sure to take  a good camera.

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Annemarie is a Mom whose daughter (Robyn) has left the nest and now she is traveling the world experiencing everything the world has to offer. You can find her sipping martinis in some of the most exotics locations in the world, having a beer at her local pub or canoeing on a beautiful lake in the Adirondacks.

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22 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Gaby December 12, 2013 at 5:03 am - Reply

    It looks beautiful! But too much people hehe

  2. Cara Harrington December 12, 2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Looks beautiful! I hope to get out New York very soon. I love it this time of year.

  3. Amanda @ Guide For Moms December 12, 2013 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Wow, SOOO beautiful! I would love to do this one year! What a great experience!

  4. Nicole B December 12, 2013 at 11:45 am - Reply

    The tree and pictures are beautiful. I don’t like crowds though so I’ll have to enjoy the view from your camera.

  5. Susan December 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    What a great experience~ I would love to go there one year.

  6. Debi@TheSpringMount6Pack December 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    That is so beautiful. I have never been there for it. But maybe some day.

  7. MK December 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    There’s nothing like NYC during the holiday season – but I cannot bear the cold weather!

  8. Liza @ Views From the 'Ville December 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Those are GORGEOUS photos! Attending this in person is on my bucket list. Maybe when my daughter is older; I don’t know if I could survive it with a toddler!

  9. Shiny December 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    I’d love to do this one year!

  10. Nikki December 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    I would do the same as you and skip the waiting process :-) The decorated tree is gorgeous!

  11. BusyBee December 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    How beautiful is NYC around Christmas. Love it

  12. Erin December 12, 2013 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Absolutely beautiful! Would love to see NYC at Christmas sometime.

  13. Allie December 13, 2013 at 5:17 am - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to go to this, maybe next year!

  14. Janelle December 13, 2013 at 5:18 am - Reply

    Brave, I bet it was really cold

  15. Pamela December 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    It does look a bit intense with that big crowd!

  16. DD December 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    That is crazy!

  17. DD December 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Always a beautiful sight!

  18. Jocelyn December 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to see Rockefeller center in December!

  19. Jen December 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    This looks like so much fun! although the crowds would freak me out a bit….

  20. DD December 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Looks like it would be a great time.

  21. Jody December 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    This looks like a lot of fun, but cannot say I would attempt it…

  22. BusyBee December 22, 2013 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    How exciting, and there’s nothing else like it

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