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Thanksgiving has turkey trotted into the sunset, we’re in the midst of Hanukkah… Suddenly Christmas is on the horizon — and there’s no surer sign than when the Rockefeller tree is lit.

People walk by the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree during a snowstorm on December 16, 2020. Photo: Gary Hershorn

Tonight’s the night when the 79-foot tall, nearly 12-ton and eight decades-old Norway Spruce from Maryland is illuminated for the first time, with more than 50,000 multicolored LED lights and a 900-pound star with 70 spikes covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals making the tree the center of attention.

Vying for the spotlight is an array of entertainment stars who will be performing live, including Carrie Underwood, Mickey Guyton, Harry Connick Jr, Brad Paisley, Alessia Cara, Norah Jones, Rob Thomas and — as is tradition at this event — The Radio City Rockettes. The pre-show begins at 7pm, with the main event kicking off at 8pm.

A person walks past the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center during a snowstorm on December 16, 2020. Photo: Gary Hershorn

Last year the ceremony was all virtual, and tickets were needed to even go take a look at the spectacle. Thankfully, things are a little less restricted for 2021 — unless you were thinking of driving there. If so, beware — because the city has significantly restricted vehicle traffic around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, closing lanes and in some cases entire streets to allow for more pedestrian space.

If you want to steer clear of the crowds, the lighting ceremony is live on NBC from 8pm. Or why not drop by another day to see it for yourself? It’s also a great chance to take a look at the lights along Fifth Avenue. The tree will be lit daily from 6am to midnight, for 24 hours on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Eve from 6am to 9pm.

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