Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


9 Wonderfully Weird Rockefeller Tree-Lighting Moments

Posted on

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, which takes place on Wednesday night in N.Y.C., has been an institution for 80 years.

And since its first broadcast in 1951, the ceremony has become a showcase for more than just the spectacular spruce. As Time notes, Barbara Walters, Bob Hope, Lily Tomlin and Liza Minnelli all participated in the festivities at some point.

In fact, recent years have seen the event grow into an even more star-studded affair. Here are some of the strangely memorable moments that have transpired over the past two decades.

1. The time a nun made out with Mickey Mouse.

Nuns from the New Jersey convent that donated the tree with Mickey Mouse on Dec. 5, 1995
Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News/Getty

2. The time Britney Spears celebrated her 18th birthday, and innocence was officially out of fashion.

Britney Spears at Rockefeller Center on Dec. 1, 1999
Joe Vericker/Getty

3. The time Destiny’s Child hung out with a brunette Jessica Simpson. (And Beyoncé made her own furry fashion statement with some strategically placed pom-poms.)

Destiny’s Child and Jessica Simpson on Nov. 28, 2001

4. The time a then-unknown Elisabeth Moss did the Miley … way back in 2003.

Elisabeth Moss on Dec. 3, 2003
Scott Gries/Getty

5. The time Michael Bublé and Chris Isaak almost got into a fight. Simmer down, fellas.

Michael Buble and Chris Isaak at the lighting on Nov. 30, 2004
Mark Von Holden/FilmMagic

6. The time Aretha Franklin showed how to effectively beat the cold, as only Aretha can.

Aretha Franklin at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 2, 2009
Bryan Bedder/Getty

7. The time Mariah Carey channeled Little Red Riding Hood, as only Mariah can.

Mariah Carey on Nov. 30, 2010
Theo Wargo/WireImage

8. The time Justin Bieber dueted with Busta Rhymes on a stirring rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.”

Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes at the the Rock Center Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 23, 2011
Aby Baker/Getty

9. The time Cee-Lo performed with the Muppets. Can this group just become an official, year-round thing?

Cee Lo Green and the Muppets on Nov. 28, 2012
Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic