It’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center and there is a lineup of A-list performers ready to take the stage for a celebration of the annual tree lighting. The regional show begins at 7 p.m. ET, while the nationwide show airs from 8 – 10 p.m. ET/PT and 7 p.m. CT. The anchors of the Today show will host the event and there are several familiar faces appearing in addition to the performers. For example, comedian Howie Mandel, who stars on America’s Got Talent and the revived Deal or No Deal, is set to make a special appearance.
So, who are the performers involved in the 2018 program? Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Brett Eldredge, Darci Lynne Farmer, John Legend, Martina McBride, Pentatonix and Kellie Pickler are some of the major names putting on performances. Tony Award winner Billy Porter and the PAL Cops & Kids Chorus in New York City will perform, with a special introduction by Tony Danza. Ella Mai, the New York City Ballet’s dancers from the production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” Rob Thomas and the Radio City Rockettes are all slated performers for tonight as well.
For those unfamiliar with Darci Lynne Farmer, she is a young ventriloquist, who won America’s Got Talent. Ella Mai is a British singer-songwriter, who has opened for Bruno Mars on tour. Billy Porter is known for Broadway, but he also stars on Ryan Murphy’s show Pose on the FX channel and he has made several appearances this past season of American Horror Story. Diana Krall is a jazz singer, who is teaming up with Tony Bennett for the holiday special.
John Legend isn’t just performing for the Rockefeller Center special this year. He also has his own special with his wife, Chrissy Teigen, which is airing immediately following the tree lighting broadcast. A Legendary Christmas airs on NBC at 10 p.m. ET/PT and 9 p.m. CT. Some of the stars making appearances on this special include Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Derek Hough, and Stevie Wonder.
NBC has reported that this year’s tree is 72 feet tall and that it “will be adorned with more than 50,000 multi-colored LEDs on approximately five miles of wire and topped with a new Swarovski star designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The new three-dimensional star is 9 feet 4 inches in diameter, weighs approximately 900 pounds and features 70 spikes covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals.” According to FOX News, the tree weighs about 24,000 pounds and lights up with over 50,000 lights.
When it comes to picking out the iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree, FOX reported that Rockefeller Center’s head gardener, Erik Pauze, said it’s a year-long process. Pauze said, “It’s an all-year process, where I’m constantly looking for trees to put on the list. I go around and visit prospective trees. If you get a tree that’s halfway decent looking, and you go visit it and it looks good in the picture but you get up close, and it’s not, then you go around that area, because maybe the climate and the weather isn’t too bad, so there may be another good one there.”
Tune in to see the colorful performances and 86th annual tradition tonight, on November 28, 2018. The tree will remain up for viewing until 9 p.m. ET on January 7, 2018.