Take a look inside the Christmas decorations and holiday cheer that transformed Radio City Music Hall’s annual Christmas Spectacular.
Everywhere you look, holidays bring out a sense of magic. New York City is no exception. The legacy of Christmas classics such as Home Alone 2 and the magic of ice skating in front of the Rockefeller tree, the colder months bring a festive feeling to the Big Apple that can’t be replicated anywhere else. One of the most famous elements of New York’s holiday season is the Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes.
You can easily find photos of the giant red ornaments around the building’s exterior, lit-up trees brightening the street outside, and the glowing tree at the marquee, but there’s a lot more that goes into Christmas at Radio City. You can read on to learn how Radio City Music Hall is decorated, including insider information from a Rockette.
The annual tradition of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular started in 1933 and has been one of New York’s favorite holiday activities since its opening. The show is reimagined in a new theme each year, and this year’s “Dance of the Frost Fairies” sees the Hall transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with frost fairies floating high above the audience.
Maranda LeBar was a Rockette for eleven years. As a child, she would take her family to see the Christmas Spectacular. The event became a tradition for celebrating the holiday.
“Growing up in New Jersey, I feel like for a lot of families that’s sort of part of your Christmas tradition,” LeBar says. “Coming into New York and seeing all the streets decorated and all the different sights, whether it’s the shops, or right across the street from Radio City there’s a little ornament display, a Christmas tree, candy canes—I just feel like the whole city always feel that Christmas spirit, and I do think that the Rockettes are a big part of that.”
Signs advertising the Spectacular outside Radio City will let you know that the holidays have officially started. The lobby is lit by a crystal chandelier that resembles a Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling. The hall is filled to the brim with wreaths and draped garlands, and technology that’s been added in the last few years allows you to feel like you’re part of the show through immersive details such as projections on the ceiling and a huge LED screen.
The decorations carry over from the hall into the Rockettes’ dressing rooms, too. LeBar changes the theme of the holiday decor at her personal station each year—sometimes it’s classic red and green, or more of a wintery aesthetic. This year she chose to go with pinks and purples. She also included a Christmas placemat and ornaments. The Rockettes share a dressing area with eight other Rockettes. In it, they decided to channel a snow theme and follow the show’s concept. LeBar and her Rockettes hung blue-and-white snowflakes from the ceiling. They also added a mini Christmas tree And lights To the space.
“You’re bringing the spirit of Christmas to 6,000 people every single show, so bringing that same spirit into our dressing room is just keeping the energy and the magic of Christmas alive all day and all season long,” LeBar says. “We’re spending so much time at the hall—this is our family. We spend Christmas Eve here. We just try to keep it homey and comfortable.”
Practically living at Radio City and performing every day during the holiday season creates a lot of joy for the Rockettes’ festive audience, but LeBar’s favorite part is seeing the excitement of the kids, especially those seeing the show for the first time. It takes her back to when she would come with her family as a kid, she says, and it’s what makes her want to do the show year after year.
“There’s really nothing like it,” she says. “You know, it’s iconic going to New York at Christmas time, and especially with the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree being right around the corner from us. Whether people are coming to see that, coming to see the Christmas Spectacular, or just spending time in the city, you can feel how excited everyone is on the streets of New York.”