New York at night is a marvel. This is one of the most exciting experiences you can have during your trip, and I'll tell you how to climb the Empire State Building at night!
Get tickets to climb the Empire State Building at night
The Empire State Building is accessible at night with a standard ticket: at the moment, there are no specific tickets to see the Empire State Building at night, as the general admission tickets are enough.
This means that when you buy 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.
What is the Night Illumination like?
Since 1976, the Empire State Building has been illuminated with colour-themed lights to enhance its silhouette and make it stand out even more from the rest of the city's skyscrapers.
The Empire State Building's lights 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 their appearance until 2 AM when they turn off.
If you like to take videos or pictures of illuminated monuments, I recommend you to go to the area around the Empire State Building at nightfall because since 2018, every hour on the hour a brief spectacle of lights, colour and sparkles takes place that will leave you speechless.
When to enjoy the most special lighting at the Empire State Building
The most special themed lighting takes place to commemorate special occasions throughout the year. The calendar and motifs may vary, but there are annual recurring dates, such as the following:
- 9 May: blue and yellow for Europe Day.
- 27 June: rainbow colours for Pride Day in New York City
- 4 July: red, white and blue for Independence Day
- 4 September: red, white and blue for Labour Day.
- 1 October: Pink for Breast Cancer Day.
- 31 October: Black, orange and green for Halloween
Why is it worth climbing the Empire State Building at night?
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 the day and see 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 than in the evening, when everyone crowds around the observatory at dusk 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 1am 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 Building at night because you can spend the whole morning doing other activities and then, before going up, you can have dinner near the skyscraper.
- And last but not least, because visiting the Empire State Building at night will allow you to take some beautiful souvenir photographs with the whole of New York illuminated under your feet.
How late is the Empire State Building open at night?
The Empire State Building observation deck is open from 8 AM to 2 AM every day although the last lift goes up at 1:15 AM. Unlike other observation decks in New York, the Empire State is open well into the early 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 it's usually less crowded at the observatory so you'll enjoy an almost private view of the Big Apple's beautiful night skyline. If you're wondering when is the best time to go up the Empire State Building, my recommendation is to consider going up late at night, even if you're a little sleepy!
When does night time start at the Empire State Building?
Night time starts 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.
What are the nighttime views like?
There is no doubt that a bird's eye view of New York City from this Art Deco gem is a sensational experience. To contemplate the city's nocturnal landscape from such an iconic landmark in the early hours of the morning is a magical moment. The perfect end to a perfect day in New York.
When you go up to the Main Deck, the observation deck on the 86th floor, you'll have a wonderful panoramic view of the New York skyline. You'll find it really hard to take your eyes off the myriad of little coloured lights that light up every corner of the Big Apple and look like little stars that have fallen from the sky.
It may be a little harder to spot certain tourist attractions in the distance at night, but if you look closely, from the Empire State Building's observation deck you can enjoy 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
- Keep in mind the schedule: to plan your visit at night, remember that the Empire State opens every day and closes at 2 AM, with the 1:15 AM lift being the last one to go up to the observation deck that day.
- You can skip the queues at the ticket booths: if you buy a skip-the-line ticket to the Empire State Building online, you'll still have to go through the security checkpoint at the skyscraper.
- Take advantage of the city's night-time public transport schedules: transport is not an impediment to visiting the Empire State Building at night because the great thing about New York is that the underground runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year. However, not all station entrances are open at night. In the post How to get to the Empire State Building I tell you how to get to and from the skyscraper.
- Satisfy your appetite with a good dinner. Near the Empire State Building there are many restaurants where you can dine like a king at night before or after your visit. I'll tell you about it in the post Where to eat around the Empire State Building.
- Take the best photos: if you decide to go up to the Empire State Building at night to take pictures, I recommend you to use some tricks to get the most beautiful images possible, such as activating the night mode, setting the ISO to 400 or using the shutter release to avoid blurred images.
Climb the Empire State Building at night with a sightseeing pass
While a general admission ticket gives you one-time access to the Empire State Building on the day and time you book, the New York City Pass (from €116) allows you to enter the skyscraper twice, which is perfect if you want to see the different facets of the city from above, both in the morning and at dusk, when the sky gradually darkens to a landscape lit up with tiny twinkling coloured lights.
Most of the tourist cards available for exploring the city include admission to the Empire State Building, as it is one of the most popular tourist attractions. However, with the exception of the New York CityPASS, which allows double entry to the observation deck of the skyscraper, all other tourist passes only allow entry once.
Can you go up the Empire State Building at night with children?
Absolutely! From the street the kids will love to see this tall skyscraper illuminated by thousands of coloured lights. Once on the observation deck, they'll be amazed when you tell them how high they are and their eyes will glaze over when they see the immense cityscape of New York adorned with so many little lights everywhere. They'll love it!
Of course, if the kids aren't too old yet, I recommend you do the night visit before midnight so they don't get too tired, as they'll have to get up early the next morning to continue making plans around the Big Apple.