Dolly Parton, Gwen Stefani to Perform as Part of 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting: Here’s How to Watch

It will be a different kind of Christmas in Rockefeller Center this year. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there will be no crowds on-site to watch the 2020 tree lighting ceremony. But the annual event will be broadcast live on NBC, so you can enjoy the spectacle from the safety (and comfort) of your own home.

Dolly Parton, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, and others to perform during the 2020 Rockefeller Center tree lighting 

Dolly  Parton
Dolly Parton | Stacie Huckeba/Butterfly Records LLC

This year’s Dec. 2 tree lighting ceremony features an all-star lineup of performers. Queen of Country Dolly Parton will team up with late-night host Jimmy Fallon, while Meghan Trainor will perform with Earth, Wind & Fire. The Voice’s Gwen Stefani — who released the new holiday single “Here This Christmas” earlier this year — will also perform, along with Kelly Clarkson, Goo Goo Dolls, Brett Eldredge, Tori Kelly, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, and Dan + Shay. Plus, the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical “Ain’t Too Proud” will perform a musical number. The Radio City Rockettes will also make an appearance.

Not every performer at this year’s ceremony will be in New York City, however. Parton, Stefani, Pentatonix, and Trainor will all perform at different locations around the U.S. Today anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, and Al Roker will host. 

How to watch ‘Christmas in Rockefeller Center’

Christmas in Rockefeller Center
Christmas in Rockefeller Center | NBC

NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center special will air Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 8 to 10 p.m. ET/PT. Starting at 7 p.m. ET/PT, NBC-owned stations and many affiliates will broadcast an additional hour of the special hosted by Access Hollywood’s Mario Lopez and NBC4 New York’s Natalie Pasquarella and David Ushery.

NBC’s tradition of broadcasting the tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller Plaza dates back to 1951, when the event was first televised on The Kate Smith Show. But the practice of placing a tree outside Rockefeller Center actually began two decades earlier, during the Great Depression. A tree was first placed on the plaza in 1931, and the tree lighting ceremony was introduced in 1933. 

This year’s tree is a 75-foot tall Norway Spruce that weighs roughly 11 tons. It will be decorated with 50,000 lights and topped with a Swarovski star. For each light, NBCUniversal will plant a tree in areas affected by wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The tree will continue to give back after the holiday season, when it will be milled into lumber for donation to Habitat for Humanity.

‘Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes’ also airs Dec. 2 

Rockettes performing
Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes | Ali Goldstein/NBC

Dolly Parton Says Christmas Has ‘Always Been My Favorite Holiday.’ Here’s How She Celebrates.

The holiday celebration on NBC won’t end with the tree lighting. The Rockettes will make an appearance during the tree lightning ceremony, but you’ll be able to see more of the high-kicking dance group during the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, which airs at 10 p.m. ET, immediately after Christmas in Rockefeller Center. 

The special was recorded at Radio City Music Hall and will feature appearances and holiday messages from Jenna Dewan, Whoopi Goldberg, Josh Groban, Carla Hall, Padma Lakshmi, and John Legend. 

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