IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Spruce up: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is lit

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is lighted at the end of an NBC television special in New York City on Wednesday night.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is lighted at the end of an NBC television special in New York City on Wednesday night.Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images

What’s 80 feet tall, 50 feet in diameter, weighs 10 tons and is guaranteed to get everyone in the Christmas spirit?

It’s the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, which on Wednesday night was lit for the 80th year. NBC broadcast the illumination of the world’s most famous tree from 8 to 9 p.m. ET (although folks in the New York City area could tune in an hour earlier and watch the preparation on NBC4). The festive holiday special featured performances by Mariah Carey, Cee Lo Greene, Rod Stewart and more, along with special appearances by Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.

Al Roker, a fixture at the annual event, was determined not to be sidetracked by the pesky case of laryngitis he's battling. He was in attendance on Wednesday night, to the delight of co-anchor Savannah Guthrie. 

The Norway spruce, which is from New Jersey and survived superstorm Sandy, is adorned with 45,000 multi-colored LED lights requiring five miles of wire. It's also topped off by a Swarovski star that contains 25,000 crystals and has new lighting enhancements that create a twinkling effect. The tree was donated by Joe Balku, 76, from Flanders, N.J., and is approximately 80 years old. 

The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was put up in 1931 by construction workers who were building the complex. In 1942, three trees were put on the plaza decorated in red, white and blue to support the troops fighting in World War II. The largest tree ever to grace Rockefeller Center was a 100-footer in 1999. 

Spectators can view the tree each day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and all 24 hours of Christmas Day, as well as from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The last day to view the tree will be Jan. 7.

After this year's tree is finally taken down, it will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity. 

More from TODAY: 

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree survived Sandy

Scarlett saves the day! Johannson reads the weather on TODAY

Christmas lights groove to 'Gangnam Style'

Seven ways to escape holidays debt-free