Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

Each year, the arrival and lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree are awaited with bated breath. The anticipation is full of holiday spirit, as the city is basking in the arrival of the holiday department store windows and other festive cheer. We had the great fortune of going behind the scenes into the lighting ceremony of the Rockefeller Center tree and are sharing with you the top 10 secrets we learned about this tradition that dates back to 1931.

1. A New Star was Designed by a Famous Architect in 2018

star on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

2018 marked the first new star on the Rockefeller Christmas tree since 2004 and the first redesign of the star since the inaugural Swarovski star. Architect Daniel Libeskind, who did the master plan for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attacks, created the new star. Libeskind’s star has three million Swarovski double-cone crystals and weighs 900 pounds. The retired star weighed 550 pounds and had one million crystals. The diameter of the new star is roughly the same as the older one: 9 feet 4 inches. The new star has 70 spikes and emits 106,400 lumens of light.

Christmas in NYC Tour

Radio City Music Hall Christmas in NYC decorations

For the nerds in us, the core of the star is made of custom-machined aluminum and 140 LED lighting spots. The star is illuminated with Swarovski’s own “Active Panel” technology, a proprietary backlighting method that uses heat to affix the crystals to glass for full sparkle capacity. It was made both in Rhode Island and in Austria.