Hundreds of tenor and bass tuba players will congregate on The Rink at Rockefeller Center, 49th and 50th streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, on Sunday, December 14, at 3:30 p.m. to play Christmas carols and other crowd favorites. Tubists of all ages will line up under the famous Christmas tree and fill the plaza with the organ-line sound of low brass during the 41st Annual Merry Tuba Christmas at Rockefeller Center. Spectators are encouraged to sing along with the Christmas carols and holiday favorites.
The musicians, hailing from across the country, will be conducted by Chris Wilhjelm, conductor of the famous Goldman band. Conceived by tuba virtuoso Harvey Phillips to honor his teacher, the late William J. Bell (Born Christmas Day, 1902), the first Tuba Christmas was presented at Rockefeller Center in 1974, conducted by Paul LaValle, of Band of America fame. This unusual Christmas tradition is firmly established in over 200 cities around the world.
Whether you're a New York City native, a recent transplant, or just in for the holidays, visiting Rockefeller Center in December is something for your bucket list.
Conceived over 100 years ago by John D. Rockefeller Jr. as a "city within a city," Rockefeller Center has long been a hub of remarkable art, style, and entertainment. His inspiring vision continues to this day.
Although John D. Rockefeller Jr. spent most of his life engaged in philanthropy, his single, defining business venture was the creation of the “city within a city”. Constructed during the Great Depression’s worst years, the project gainfully employed over 40,000 people.
When Rockefeller Center officially opened in May 1933, it held true to the developing team’s belief that art was an act of good citizenship. 30 Rockefeller Plaza boasted a grand lobby decorated by accomplished European artists, Frank Brangwyn and José Maria Sert. During its first decade, the complex bustled with exciting tenants like the French bookstore, Librairie de France and the brand new publication News-Week (as it was originally called). And with a western edge devoted to entertainment, Rockefeller Center has some real bragging rights — it was the site where John Hay Whitney and David O. Selznick decided to produce Gone With the Wind and where the ever-adored Christmas Spectacular debuted. “Don’t ‘give the people what they want,’” said S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel, the man who created Radio City Music Hall. “Give ’em something better.” Throughout the 1930s, Rockefeller Center steadily improved, including some accidental innovations like the Christmas Tree tradition in 1931 and the skating rink in 1936. By 1939, more than 125,000 people were visiting Rockefeller Center daily; on its own, it would have been the 51st largest city in the U.S.
Currently, Rockefeller Center encompasses a total of 7 Million square feet, including 1.5 Million square feet of shopping and dining. Kept alive is Rockefeller’s humanitarian spirit. In 2008, a “penny harvest” collected over 100 million pennies to be donated to community grants and service projects throughout the city. And in effort to contribute to a healthier environment, the complex has installed 363 solar panels and is planning a green roof on top of Radio City Music Hall. With even more exciting developments including the reopening of the Observation Deck, now known as Top of the Rock, so much has already happened during this decade and so much is yet to come.
Click here for more details of the rich history of Rockefeller Center, as well as information on attractions including holiday events, television shows, and more.