The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lit during last year's ceremony. Credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Nothing quite marks the beginning of the holiday season like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting.
With the flick of a switch, 45,000 multicolored and energy-efficient LED lights on the 76-foot, 12-ton spruce will be lit Wednesday at 8:55 p.m. in Rockefeller Plaza.
Prior to the lighting, NBC New York will stream a two-hour holiday special beginning at 7 p.m.
The national "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" broadcast begins at 8 p.m., with performances from Mary J. Blige, Goo Goo Dolls, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson and others.
The tree will be up through Jan. 7, lit 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day and 24 hours on Christmas Day.
Tips if you go to the lighting:
You can take the B/D/F/M to Rockefeller Center/47-50th Street station, the N/R/Q to 49th Street and Seventh Avenue, the E to Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street.
However, the Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue-53rd Street stations may have stairway closures. Gridlock Sam recommends taking the 6 Train to Lexington Avenue-53rd Street, the 1 Train to 50th Street, the N/R line to 49th Street or the B/D/F/M to 42nd Street.
Get there early. The event begins at 7 p.m., but the area around the tree will fill up fast with some quarter-million spectators attending in previous years. (Be sure to also position yourself so that you can see it from a distance.)
Don't take a car. Traffic will be a nightmare and the lighting has been designated an official "gridlock alert day" by the city.
Roads will be closed 3 to 11 p.m. from West 48th Street to West 51st Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, according to the police department. NYPD recommends spectators take mass transit.