Here’s How Much the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Costs

New York City lights Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, USA - 30 Nov 2022
SARAH YENESEL / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock.com

There’s a big range when it comes to picking out a Christmas tree, from the skimpy “Charlie Brown” style to the stately crown jewel of the Griswolds. Yet, when it comes to the magical spruce that decorates New York City’s Rockefeller Center every December, one might wonder: What is the real cost to stage that beauty for millions to gander at during the holidays?

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According to NBC 4 in New York City, this year’s pick is an 82-foot Norway Spruce donated by a family in the town of Queensbury, about 200 miles from the Manhattan plaza where it now stands in all its glory (you can catch a glimpse of it here). It’s 50 feet wide, weighs 14 tons and is thought to be around 85-90 years old. Its branches are decorated with 50,000-plus LED lights while at its peak sits a Swarovski crystal star, according to the news outlet.

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So, what’s the price tag? Estimates say it would cost more than $73,000, with all things considered, per Market Realist. While the tree itself is donated, saving a huge cost for a gift of that magnitude, there would be the added expense of transporting something that heavy all those 200 miles. That’s not to mention the cost of electricity to keep all those lights going every day — from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. for more than 40 days — according to the official website. The tree was first lit in a special televised ceremony on Nov. 30 and will remain so until mid-January.

Market Realist noted that Rockefeller Center organizers switched to LED lights in 2007 to save energy and money, with consumption downgrading from 3,510 kwH to 1,297 kwH per day while “saving as much energy as a typical 2,000-square-foot household consumes per month.” Still, it’s calculated that the tree lighting takes up 54 tons of carbon during the entire holiday season, though solar panels on Rockefeller Center do help supply a lot of the energy needed.

The star at the top of the tree is also quite impressive — weighing 200 pounds, according to NBC 4 New York — and made of 3 million Swarovski crystals placed on 70 spikes. It’s worth an estimated $1.5 million, Loving New York indicated, though it’s reused year after year.

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The History Behind the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The tradition of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree goes all the way back to 1931. At that time, workers all donated to a money pot to buy a tree for the plaza and decorated it with handmade garlands put together by their families, according to the official website. In 1933, the first formal lighting ceremony kicked off what has now become an annual event.

Loving New York suggested the tree gets around 500,000 visitors per day, or 18 million people during an entire Christmas season. Once January rolls around, the tree is then taken down and turned into lumber — lumber which is used by Habitat for Humanity to build a house.

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If you’re in New York and want to pay a visit, the tree is free to see and will be lit up from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily — except on Christmas Day when it’s lit for 24 hours and New Year’s Eve when it’s only illuminated until 9 p.m. If you have a tree you think measures up, and would like to donate in the future, the official website has a submission form.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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