Though many have been holiday prepping since the day after Thanksgiving (some even before), the season has not officially begun until the Rockefeller Center tree says so—especially in the Big Apple. So, with the 86th Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony tonight, you bet your tinsel I'm blasting Christmas music extra loudly in our New York office while thousands of people make their way to 30 Rockefeller Plaza (between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, in case you're headed that way.)
Whether you're bracing the cold night ahead or opting to watch the event from the comfort of your couch via TV or live stream, we have everything you need to know, plus a little extra fun:
This year's tree, which is named Shelby, comes from donators Shirley Figueroa and Lissette Gutierrez's farmhouse in Wallkill, New York.
The 2018 Swarovski Star was designed by famed architect Daniel Libeskind using 3 million Swarovski crystals on 70 spikes. The topper measures 9'4" (approximately 1/8 the size of the tree) and is backlit by LED lights. The tree itself, TODAY shares, will be wrapped in 5 miles of colorful lights.
The live event will then end by 10 p.m. After tonight, the tree will be lit from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. through January 6, 2019 and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on January 7, 2019. On Christmas Day, though, the tree will be lit for 24 hours.
According to TODAY, the latest you want to arrive to the ceremony is 4 p.m. if you want to reserve a spot where you can see the tree and performances.
Performers include Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, John Legend, Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, Martina McBride, Pentatonix, Kellie Pickler, and Howie Mandel.
Tune into NBC from 8 p.m to 10 p.m EST to watch the event nationwide, hosted by TODAY anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker, and Craig Melvin. Followed by Chrissy Teigen and John Legend's Christmas special, "A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy."
To live stream, go to nbc.com/live, nbcnewyork.com/live, or use the NBC app.
This is the twelfth consecutive year the Rockefeller tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity as it continues to act as a symbol of hope. According to Rockefeller Center website, it even "inspired the children’s book, 'The Carpenter’s Gift,' written by David Rubel and illustrated by Jim LaMarche in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity."