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Empire State Building at Night

One of the great attractions of New York is to see the city illuminated at night and its iconic Empire State Building could not be less. I tell you everything you need to know to make the most of your night visit to this symbol of the city.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

7 min read

Empire State Building at Night

The Empire State Building illuminated | ©George Bakos

New York at night is a marvel. Even more so if you can enjoy it from the heights in a privileged place like the Empire State Building observation deck. This is one of the most exciting experiences you can live during your trip. I'll tell you how to climb the Empire State Building at night!

Get tickets to climb the Empire State Building in the evening hours

The Empire State Building at night| ©Hellotickets
The Empire State Building at night| ©Hellotickets

Nighttime access to the Empire State Building is permitted with a standard ticket: there are currently no specific tickets to see the Empire State Building at night, as the general admission tickets are sufficient.

That is, when purchasing your ticket you will also have to choose a day and time to visit, so it will be enough to book a night time to enjoy the beautiful illuminated landscape of New York.

In Hellotickets you can get a ticket without queues and with the possibility of cancellation from 39€ approximately.

Book your skip-the-line ticket to the Empire State Building

What is the Night Illumination like?

Empire State Building night lighting at night| ©Brendan Church
Empire State Building night lighting at night| ©Brendan Church

Since 1976 the Empire State Building has been illuminated with color-themed lights to embellish its silhouette and make it even more remarkable among the rest of the city's skyscrapers.

The lights of the Empire State Building are best seen from the outside. On the city streets near the skyscraper you can take lots of pictures of the building glowing with thousands of lights that change its appearance until 2 AM when they turn off.

If you like to take videos or pictures of illuminated monuments, I recommend that at nightfall you go to the surroundings of the Empire State because since 2018, every hour on the hour a brief spectacle of lights, color and flashes that will leave you speechless.

When to enjoy the most special illumination of the Empire State Building

More special themed lighting takes place to commemorate special occasions throughout the year. The calendar and motifs may vary, but there are annual dates that are repeated, such as:

  • May 9: blue and yellow for Europe Day
  • June 27: rainbow colors for New York Pride Day
  • July 4: red, white and blue for Independence Day
  • September 4: red, white and blue for Labor Day.
  • October 1: Pink for Breast Cancer Day.
  • October 31: Black, orange and green for Halloween

Why is it worth climbing the Empire State Building at night?

Night views from the Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets
Night views from the Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets

In case you've enjoyed the New York skyline from this or any other observation deck during the day, visiting the Empire State Building at night will allow you to take the pulse of the city at a very different time of day and contemplate the cityscape from the heights fully illuminated. It's a blast! But if you're still not convinced, take note of the following reasons:

  • After dark and especially after midnight there are usually far fewer visitors at the lookout compared to the afternoon, when everyone crowds at dusk at the observatory and there is a lot of hustle and bustle. At night it is quiet and, at times, even silent.
  • You will enjoy a more exclusive, almost private experience, especially if you go up to the Empire State Building from 1 AM until closing time. It will be a very romantic occasion to visit the skyscraper as a couple.
  • It is also worth going to the Empire State at night because you can take advantage of the whole morning to do other activities and then, before going up, have dinner near the skyscraper.
  • And finally, because visiting the Empire State Building at night will allow you to take some beautiful pictures as a souvenir with all New York illuminated under your feet.

How late is the Empire State Building open at night?

The interior of the Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets
The interior of the Empire State Building| ©Hellotickets

The Empire State observation deck is open from 8 AM to 2 AM every day although the last elevator goes up at 1:15 AM. Unlike other observation decks in New York, the Empire State is open well into the wee hours of the morning which is great if you want to plan other activities during the day and leave this one to close the day after dinner.

After midnight there are usually not so many people at the observatory so you will enjoy an almost private view of the beautiful night landscape of the Big Apple. If you are wondering what is the best time to climb the Empire State Building, my recommendation is that you value the option of going up late in the morning, even if you are a little sleepy!

When does the Empire State Building open at night?

The evening schedule begins at sunset, which varies depending on the season. For example, during the summer it gets dark around 8:30 PM while in the winter it gets dark around 4:30 PM. Knowing these facts will help you better plan your nighttime visit to the Empire State Building.

Book your ticket to the Empire State

What are the night views like?

Empire State Building at night| ©Hellotickets
Empire State Building at night| ©Hellotickets

There is no doubt that a bird's eye view of New York City from this Art Deco jewel is a sensational experience. Contemplating the city's nocturnal landscape from such an emblematic place at dawn is a magical moment. The finishing touch to a perfect day in New York.

When you go up to the Main Deck, the observation deck on the 86th floor, you will have wonderful panoramic views of the New York skyline. It will be really hard to take your eyes off the countless small colored lights that light up every corner of the Big Apple and look like little stars that have fallen from the sky.

Perhaps at night it is a little more difficult to identify certain tourist attractions in the distance, but if you look closely, from the Empire State Observation Deck you can delight in the illuminated views of the skyline:

  • Statue of Liberty
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Flatiron Building
  • One World Trade Center
  • Chrysler Building
  • Times Square
  • Bryant Park
  • Fifth Avenue
  • Rockefeller Center

Tips for climbing the Empire State Building at night

Views from the Empire State Building at night| ©Mateus Maia
Views from the Empire State Building at night| ©Mateus Maia
  • Keep in mind the schedule: to plan your visit at night, remember that the Empire State opens every day and closes at 2 AM, being the 1:15 AM elevator the last one going up to the observation deck that day.
  • You can skip the lines at the ticket booths: if you buy online a skip-the-line ticket to the Empire State Building, you will still have to go through the security checkpoint at the skyscraper.
  • Take advantage of the night schedules of public transport in the city: transportation is not an impediment to visit the Empire State at night because the good thing about New York is that the subway runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year. However, at night not all station entrances are open. In the post How to get to the Empire State I tell you how you can get to and from the skyscraper.
  • Satisfy your appetite with a good dinner near the Empire State there are many restaurants where you can dine at night like a king before or after the visit. I tell you about it in the post Where to eat around the Empire State.
  • Take the best pictures: if you decide to climb the Empire State Building at night to take pictures, I recommend you to use some tricks to make the images look as beautiful as possible, such as activating the night mode, setting the ISO to 400 or using the shutter to avoid blurred images.

Book your ticket to the Empire State

Climb the Empire State Building by night with a tourist pass

Empire State Building at dusk| ©Alina Olzk
Empire State Building at dusk| ©Alina Olzk

While a general admission ticket gives you one-time access to the Empire State on the day and time you book, the New York City Pass (from 116 €) will allow you to enter twice to this skyscraper, which is perfect if you want to contemplate from the heights the different facets of the city both in the morning and at sunset, when the sky gradually darkens and gives way to a landscape illuminated with small twinkling colored lights.

In most of the tourist cards that exist to explore the city is included in the entrance to the Empire State, being one of the most popular tourist attractions. However, except for the New York CityPASS that allows double access to the observation deck of the skyscraper, the rest of the tourist passes only authorize entry once.

Can you climb the Empire State Building at night with children?

Absolutely! From the street the kids will love to see this tall skyscraper illuminated with thousands of colored lights. Once on the observation deck, they will be amazed when you tell them how high they are and they will be left with their eyes wide open watching the immense New York cityscape adorned with so many little lights everywhere. They will love it!

Of course, if the children are not yet very old I recommend you to make the night visit before midnight so they do not get too tired, because the next day they will have to get up early to continue making plans for the Big Apple.

Book your tourist pass