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

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


If you plan to visit the Empire State Building at night, you are sure to 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 shares everything you must know before your night visit to the Empire State Building. 

Empire State Building at night or day

Empire State Building in New York stays open for 18 hours every day – it opens at 8 am and closes at 2 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 why 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 120 Kms (80 Miles) 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 Empire State Building get to see stunning 360-degree views of the New York City all lit up. 

The shimmering golden lights make New York seem magical.

Most buildings have lighting effects of their own, which can be witnessed only at night.

However, iconic buildings aren’t always visible clearly, and taking pictures becomes difficult unless you have a good camera.

At night visitors can’t see Central Park from the building. It is one 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, here is our suggestion on what you should do – visit the Empire State Building at night or day.

If time and money are not a problem, it is better to book the Empire State Building’s sunrise tickets and reach the attraction at the appointed time.

You can then see the city with all the lights on, enjoy the sunrise view and finally explore the city in full daylight.

If you aren’t particular about the sunrise, you can book the AM/PM Experience Ticket

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

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

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

You can see the layout of the city and geography of the surrounding area 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.

If you want to avoid the crowd and waiting in long lines, a night visit to New York’s most famous attraction comes highly recommended.

The Big Apple Pass includes tickets to a 60-minute Statue of Liberty cruise, the Empire State Building, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You also get a 10% discount code, which you can use (five times!) to get discounts on future purchases.

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Best time to visit Empire State at night

The best time to visit the Empire State Building at night is around 11 pm after the crowd has left. 

It is also the perfect time to get some private moments alone if you are visiting as a couple. 

From Thursday to Saturday, between 9 pm to 1 am (and till midnight during winter), a live saxophonist is available on the 86th-floor observatory.

The best part – the instrumentalist takes requests. 

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

The best time for a day visit to Empire State Building is 8 am to 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 just need to pick a time slot after dark.

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

Standard ticket

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

Adult ticket (13 to 61 years): $45.73
Seniors ticket (62+ years): $43.55
Child ticket (6 to 12 years): $39.20
Infant ticket (less than 5 years): Free entry

Express ticket

This is the premium experience, and when you book an Empire State Building Express Ticket, you skip the line at the ticket counter, the line at the security check, and the line for the elevators to go up.

The Express ticket is priced at $85 for all visitors above five years of age. 

Day and night ticket

Visiting the Empire State Building at night and daytime is both breathtaking and significantly different.

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

With this day and night ticket, you can visit once during the day and once after 9.30 pm. 

You can go through the exhibits inside Empire State Building either in the morning or at night, but spend time in the observation decks on both visits.

Since the last lift goes up at 1.15 am, you have plenty of time for a satisfactory night visit to NYC’s most prominent landmark.

Adult ticket (13+ years): $66.44
Child ticket (6 to 12 years): $56.62
Infant ticket (less than 5 years): Free entry

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 $20 per person and visit the 102nd-floor observatory.

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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 both locals and tourists alike. 

The landmark building keeps changing its lights every day 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 is capable of displaying more than 16 million colors. 

In fact, 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 meaning of the colors used.

These colors don’t have individual meanings. Their meaning depends on the reason why the colors are projected on the building.

For instance, Red, White, and Green colored lights go up every time 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 show.

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Fireworks from Empire State Building

Fireworks from Empire State Building isn’t a regular feature, but it 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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