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Empire State Building at night – tickets, prices, views, timings

Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan


If you plan to visit the Empire State Building at night, you will surely have many questions. 

Which ticket to purchase, what time to visit, what kind of views to expect, how much crowd to wade through, etc. 

Is visiting at night even worth it?

This article covers everything you must know before tickets for a night visit to the Empire State Building.

Top Empire State Building at night Tickets

# Morning and night entry ticket

# Empire State Building Express Ticket

Empire State Building at night

Empire State Building at night or day

On some days, the Empire State Building in New York stays open for 17 hours.

It opens at 8 am and closes at 1 am the next day.

It is one of the few tourist attractions globally from where you can either begin your day or end it. 

It starts welcoming visitors much before the city’s other attractions open and continues to receive them for many hours after these landmarks have closed. 

That is one main reason most visitors wonder what would be better – visiting the Empire State Building during the day or at night.

Daytime views from Empire State Building

On a pleasantly clear day, you can see fantastic views up to 80 miles (120 Km) in all directions.

In the daylight, you can easily identify the iconic buildings and roads. 

The abundance of sunlight also allows you to take good photographs. 

However, there is always the possibility of poor weather, which can affect daytime visibility. 

Nighttime views from Empire State Building

Nighttime visitors to the Empire State Building see stunning 360-degree views of New York City all lit up.

The shimmering golden lights make New York seem magical.

Most buildings have beautiful lighting effects, which can be witnessed only at night.

However, iconic buildings aren’t always visible clearly, and taking pictures becomes difficult without a good camera.

At night, visitors can’t see Central Park from the building, which looks like a dark patch on the horizon.

Since the crowd is minimal, you can relax and walk around the observatory, taking in views from all sides of the building.

Our recommendation

The views from the Empire State Building are impressive all through the day. 

Depending on various scenarios, visiting the Empire State Building at different times can provide unique experiences.

If time and money are not a problem, booking the Empire State Building’s sunrise tickets and reaching the attraction at the appointed time is better.

You can enjoy the famed night lights of NYC, soak in the sunrise, and then finally explore the city in full daylight.

You can book the AM/PM Experience Ticket if you aren’t particular about the sunrise. 

The AM/PM ticket allows you to visit the observatory once during the day and then again during the night. 

You can decide when to visit the Empire State Building as long as both are on the same day.

If you are visiting New York City for the first time, buying the cheapest entry – the Standard ticket and being at the Empire State Building during the day is best.

You can see the city’s layout and the surrounding area’s geography in greater detail.

If you have already been to the Empire State Building’s observatories once during the day, we recommend a night visit so that you can enjoy the excitement of the city’s lights. 

The Standard entry tickets work well for night visits, too. 

If you plan to visit with your partner and want to impress them, opt for a night visit.

Standing on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, with almost nobody around, is a romantic experience.

A night visit to New York’s most famous attraction is highly recommended if you want to avoid the crowd and wait in long lines.

The New York Digital Pass includes tickets to a 60-minute Statue of Liberty cruise, the Empire State Building, the Museum of Modern Art, and an audio guide app. You also get a 10% discount code, which you can use to get discounts on future purchases.

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Best time to visit Empire State at night

The best time of the day to visit the Empire State Building for family groups is around 9 or 10 pm, while couples can find a more private atmosphere around 11 pm.

You can also visit for an amazing night view near midnight. Night-time visits guarantee a unique experience of gazing at the busy city lights. 

Guests can even book a VIP proposal package, which promises a premier, private experience, allowing visitors to absorb spectacular views from New York City’s heart.

Night visits during winter can get cold, so don’t forget your coat. 

The best time for a day visit to Empire State Building is when it opens at 10 am, after which the queues start getting longer.

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Empire State Building at night tickets

There are no specific night tickets at Empire State.

Since the Empire State Building tickets are timed, you must pick a time slot after dark.

There are two types of experiences that the Empire State Building offers – 

Standard ticket

Booking a Standard Ticket online, helps you skip the long lines at the ticket counter and waltz into the building.

Adult Ticket (13 to 61 years): US$48
Senior Ticket (62+ years): US$46
Child ticket (6 to 12 years): US$41
Infant ticket (up to 5 years): Free

Express ticket

This is the premium experience, and when you book an Empire State Building Express Ticket, you can skip all lines, including the one at the ticket counter, at the security check, and for the elevators as well.

The Express ticket is US$91 for all visitors above six years. 

Children under six can enter for free.

Day and night ticket

Visiting the Empire State Building at night and during the day provides visitors with two starkly different yet breathtaking experiences.

Empire State Building offers AM/PM tickets, a unique combo pass designed for visitors who want to experience both views. 

With the day and night ticket, you can visit once during the day and once after 6 pm. 

You can go through the exhibits inside the Empire State Building in the morning or at night, along with spending time at the observation decks on both visits.

Since the last lift goes up 45 minutes before closing time for the day, you have plenty of time for a satisfactory night visit to NYC’s most prominent landmark.

Adult Ticket (13+ years): US$70 to US$74
Child Ticket (6 to 12 years): US$59 to US$63
Infant Ticket (up to 5 years): Free

102nd-floor observatory tickets

Visitors can’t book tickets to the 102-floor observatory in advance.

However, if you like what you see from the 86th floor, you can upgrade your experience by paying US$20 per person and visiting the 102nd-floor observatory.

Visual Story: 15 must-know tips before visiting Empire State Building

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Empire State Building night lights

Since 1976, the Empire State Building’s night lights have enhanced New York City’s skyline and wowed locals and tourists alike. 

The landmark building changes its lights daily to recognize important occasions, holidays, people, organizations, etc. 

People follow the Empire State Building’s light schedule with curiosity. 

Its state-of-the-art LED lighting system can display more than 16 million colors.

The light show is completely customizable. Each section of the top of the massive building can have a different colored light. 

Empire State Building lighting
Image: Esbnyc.com

The Empire State Building’s lights show is turned off at 2 am daily.

Recommended Reading
Top of the Rock or Empire State Building
One World Observatory or Empire State Building

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Empire State Building’s colors

Empire State Building’s night lights use specific colors associated with the occasion, holiday, organization, or country. 

Empire State Building colors

Locals and tourists are usually curious to know the meanings of the colors that adorn the Empire State Building.

These colors don’t actually have individual meanings, but their meaning depends on why the colors are projected on the building.

For instance, Red, White, and Green colored lights go up every time the Empire State Building celebrates either Colombus Day or Mexican Independence Day.

Here are some examples of how and why the Empire State uses colored lights to express its solidarity with different occasions and causes.

Labour Day: Red, White, and Blue
Bully Prevention Day: Blue
Indian Independence Day: Orange, White, and Green
US Open: Blue and Yellow
Police Memorial Day: Blue and Purple
St Patrick’s Day: Green, White, and Orange
Tribute to Kobe Bryant: Purple and Gold

Of all the colors, the Empire State Building seems to use Blue, Red, White, and Green the most, in that order. 

On some days, the Empire State Building remains dark to express sympathy. 

For instance, after the Lebanese PM stepped down on 11 August in response to the catastrophic Beirut explosion on 4 August 2020, the building didn’t have any colored lights.

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Fireworks from Empire State Building

Fireworks from the Empire State Building aren’t a regular feature, but they happened in 2020.

When most cities canceled the Fourth of July celebrations due to coronavirus concerns, New York City’s annual Macy’s fireworks show went ahead on top of the Empire State Building.

For the first time, the city saw fireworks launched from the top of the Empire State Building.

Recommended Reading
Empire State Building facts
Animal projections on Empire State

# Empire State Building
# One World Observatory
# Top of the Rock
# Statue of Liberty
# Metropolitan Museum of Art
# 9/11 Memorial and Museum
# Museum of Modern Art
# Intrepid Museum
# Guggenheim Museum
# Bronx Zoo
# Central Park Zoo
# Queens Zoo
# Prospect Park Zoo
# New York Botanical Garden
# American Museum of Natural History
# Edge Hudson Yards
# Vessel Hudson Yards
# Museum of Ice Cream
# BlueMan Group NYC
# Spirit of New York Dinner Cruise
# New York Helicopter tour

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