New York City rang in the holiday season on Wednesday night as the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree, with its 30,000 lights, lit up for tens of thousands of people watching. The ceremony featured performances by Neil Diamond, Cee Lo Green and Carole King. Justin Bieber and Tony Bennett provided pre-taped performances.
It was the first time at the tree lighting for 13-year-old best friends Emily Solomon and Carmela Civello. "It was beautiful," they said in unison.
The ceremony happened on the day President Barack Obama was in town to raise money for his re-election bid next year. The combination led to traffic jams across Manhattan.
The first Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre was set up in 1931, and it has attracted crowds since then. The tree is decorated with five miles of lights, and they will be on until 7 January.
On the same night, in Washington, DC, First Lady Michelle Obama showed off her cookie-decorating skills during a White House Christmas celebration honouring military families. Mrs Obama thanked the members of the military and their families for their service.