You may think the optimal time to catch the 50,000 lights twinkling on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is at night, but mix that in with the overflowing crowds and traffic spilling out onto Fifth Avenue and you’ve got yourself your very own nightmare before Christmas. So we’re letting you in on an insider tip, one for the locals, that the best time to catch the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is at actually just before sunrise!
Why is this? Well, beyond escaping some of the heaviest foot traffic times with approx. 125 million people visiting the tree each year, those who head to the plaza in the wee hours of the morning get the unique opportunity to watch the tree lights actually turn on.
The lights fire up at 5 am and turn off 1 am, according to Rockefeller Center. And with sunrise not happening until around 7am this time of year, it’s still dark enough for onlookers to experience the same beautiful illumination as one would in the nighttime.
But of course, what’s a trip to the tree without pictures?! Arriving just before sunrise ensures the perfect opportunity to catch the best framing without tons of randos in the shot.
Plus, we’re not the only ones who think prime viewing time is before sunrise! Many TikTokers have been sharing their early morning adventures, showing just how magical all the views on Fifth Avenue, from holiday windows to the Saks Fifth Avenue facade, can be before the rest of the city wakes up.
You have until January 13, 2024 to see the 2023-2024 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree before you’ll have to wait until the next holiday season.