Christmas has arrived in New York with the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree, the Norway Spruce at Rockefeller Center, an event attended by thousands of people who defied an intensely cold day.
The highly-anticipated live televised event, which takes place during the week after Thanksgiving, featured performances by legendary band Chicago and Jon Bon Jovi, as well as John Legend, the first to take the stage, and Brett Eldredge.
The tree was lit with over 50,000 colourful lights and it was topped by a star made of three million Swarovski crystals.
This year, the 23.4-metre high tree weighing 14 tonnes arrived at Rockefeller Center on November 9 from the town of Florida, in northern New York state, much to the delight of its owner, 79-year-old Carol Schultz.
The 88th tree to grace Rockefeller Center was planted by Schultz shortly after she moved to Florida from Orange County in 1959.
Schultz said she initially placed the tree on a coffee table before planting it in front of her house later that same year.
A video presented during the broadcast showed the moment the tree was cut and brought to its final destination, where it was greeted with applause by enthusiastic New Yorkers.
The tradition was started on Christmas Eve 1931 by a group of construction workers who were building the Rockefeller Center.
However, the formal, annual lighting of the tree only began two years later and has continued ever since with some variations in the ceremony over the years.
In 1942, three trees adorned with red, white and blue balls were placed to express support for troops fighting in World War II.
The trees that year, as well as those placed at successive Christmases until the end of the war in 1945, were not decorated with lights because of regulations governing armed conflict.
The tree was again decorated in hues of red, white and blue in 2001, following the September 11 attacks.
Around 798,000 people are expected to visit the tree every day, according to Rockefeller Center.
As has been the case for the past 12 twelve years, the tree - which will be at Rockefeller Center until January 17 - will later be donated to Habitat for Humanity, an American NGO founded in 1976 that builds shelters for those in need throughout the world.
The non-profit will use the wood obtained from the tree to build homes, according to the Rockefeller Center website.
Australian Associated Press