NBC lights up the night with an array of musical performances and the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree during the 8th annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" spectacular, telecast live on Wednesday, Nov. 30 (8-9:00 p.m. ET/PT). Hosted by Al Roker
("Today") and Megan Mullally
("Will & Grace
"), the 73rd tree-lighting extravaganza will feature Rod Stewart
, Sheryl Crow
, Carrie Underwood
"), Regis Philbin
, Brian Wilson
("The Beach Boys
"), the Brian Setzer Orchestra
, and Earth, Wind & Fire
performing current hits and holiday favorites sure to warm the coldest holiday heart.
"My Dad used to bring me in to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree when I was a kid," said Roker. "Now I get to help rekindle the child in all of us by being one of the hosts of 'Christmas In Rockefeller Center.'"
Broadcast for the first time in high definition, the special will include a fund-raising component as NBC partners with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to raise money for the children displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. On hand to help front this effort will be a few of the children personally affected by the disasters. Funds raised will be used to purchase toys to be distributed to children whose lives were devastated by the storms. Donations can be made via the Toys for Tots Web site (toysfortots.org) or a toll-free number (866-IM4-TOYS) or (866-464-8697).
Performing from beautifully decorated stages located at the re-opened historic Top of the Rock observation deck and a rooftop overlooking New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, to stages located beneath the iconic statue of Prometheus and in front of the majestic tree, each artist's powerful performance will exemplify the beauty and spirit of the holiday season.
Prior to the airing of the network special, WNBC, NBC's New York flagship station, will broadcast an additional live hour of the special (7-8:00 p.m. ET). Performances exclusive to the limited-market telecast include Goo Goo Dolls
and Il Divo
. WNBC has been the home to the Rockefeller Center tree lighting, working with co-owner of Rockefeller Center, Tishman Speyer.
This year's tree is a Norway Spruce belonging to Arnold Raquet of Wayne, N.J. Estimated to be between 60 and 70 years old, the tree weighs nine tons and is 74-feet high and 42-feet wide. It will be decked out with 30,000 colored bulbs lining five miles of wire. The tree will be crowned with a crystal star designed by Swarovski, which was unveiled last year. The star is adorned with 25,000 crystals, one million facets and is lit from within with LEDs, that will radiate over midtown Manhattan from its perch atop the 74-foot tree. The star measures 9 -1/2 feet in diameter and 1-1/2 feet deep, making it the largest star to grace a Rockefeller tree.
The tradition of the tree itself began in the Great Depression during the construction of the Rockefeller Center complex in 1931. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began formally in 1933 when a tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month old RCA Building, which is now the GE Building. The Christmas tradition was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice skating pond. NBC-TV televised the first tree lighting in 1951 on "The Kate Smith Show" and as part of the nationwide "Howdy Doody" television show from 1953-55.