Enchanting Empire State Building lights: Celebrating holidays, tributes, and events

Since 1976, the Empire State Building has captivated viewers with its stunning light displays illuminating a corner of Manhattan. 

The building uses different colors to symbolize tributes and mark special occasions.

The first red, white, and blue lights commemorated the United States Bicentennial. 

Since then, the Empire State Building’s vibrant lights have continued to make a powerful statement. 

This article shares everything we know about Empire State Building lights, the schedule, what the colors mean and more. 

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What do the Empire State Building lights and colors mean?

The Empire State Building’s night lights showcase specific colors associated with occasions, holidays, organizations, or countries. 

The colors don’t have individual meanings; their significance depends on the event. 

For example, Red, White, and Green lights are used for Columbus Day or Mexican Independence Day celebrations. 

Here are some examples of the colored lights used for different occasions:

  • 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

In that order, Blue, Red, White, and Green are the most frequently used colors. 

Sometimes, the Empire State Building remains dark to express sympathy, like after the catastrophic Beirut explosion in 2020.

Empire State Building lights schedule 2023

Explore the mesmerizing Empire State Building lights planned for 2023. 

Witness the iconic building illuminate the New York City skyline in vibrant colors for various occasions.

Here is the November 2023, Empire State Building light schedule.

DateSignificanceCelebration of the 30th anniversary of Wu-Tang Clan’s Debut Album
October 30WICKED’s 20th Anniversary Green
October 31Halloween Spooky LED with pumpkins, witches and ghosts
November 9Celebration of 30th anniversayr of Wu-Tang Clan’s Debut AlbumYellow

Empire State Building special light shows 

The Empire State Building hosts captivating special light shows throughout the year. 

These displays add to the iconic building’s charm and captivate locals and tourists. 

Each show is carefully orchestrated to celebrate significant events and holidays and raise awareness for various causes.


During Pride Month, the Empire State Building has a dazzling light display featuring vibrant rainbow colors yearly. 

This annual tradition of lighting up in honor of the LGBTQ+ community has been cherished since 2012.

The rainbow lights symbolize inclusivity, acceptance, and celebration of diversity.


As Halloween approaches, the Empire State Building embraces the spooky spirit with a special light show. 

The lights take on a haunting combination of orange and black, transforming the skyscraper into a mysterious and eerie sight.

Creepy images like spiders and ghosts are projected onto the building. 

It adds to the Halloween ambiance.


This is the time to enjoy the Empire State Building’s holiday music to light show.

During the holiday season, the Empire State Building becomes a part of New York City’s cherished Christmas traditions. 

Synchronized to classic holiday tunes like “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls,” the building’s lights dance harmoniously with the music.

The display features snowflakes, twinkling Christmas trees, and other festive imagery.

Fourth of July

On Independence Day, the Empire State Building joins the patriotic celebrations with a dazzling red, white, and blue light display. 

The colors are synchronized with the famous Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks.

It adds to the grandeur of the festivities and provides a spectacular view for spectators across the city.

It symbolizes national pride and a stunning tribute to the country’s founding principles.

International Women’s Day

In solidarity with gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Empire State Building has been illuminated in purple and gold every International Women’s Day since 2017. 

This powerful display is a tribute to the contributions of women in society and serves as a reminder of the ongoing fight for gender equality.

The lights are thoughtfully synchronized to music by female artists. 

This amplifies the message of strength and recognition for women’s achievements.

Empire State Building fireworks

The Empire State Building made history in New York City by launching fireworks from its 72nd, 103rd, and 86th floors during the Macy’s July 4th Fireworks Spectacular. 

The synchronized display with the building’s lights was set to the iconic song “New York, New York.” 

Lighting designer Marc Brickman and his team at Tactical Manoeuvre flawlessly executed the music-to-light show.

It creates a breathtaking scene under a clear night sky, accentuated by the fireworks’ smoke.

Best places in New York City to watch the Empire State Building light show

You need to find the best spot in the city to experience the light show.  

Here are the best locations in New York City to watch the Empire State Building light show. 

Williamsburg Waterfront & Domino Park

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, offers one of the best views of the Empire State Building along the East River waterfront. 

Domino Park, situated on the Williamsburg East River waterfront, was once the site of the Domino Sugar Refinery. 

Now a public park, it provides incredible views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline, including the Empire State Building.

Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park offers a fantastic street view of the Empire State Building in the Flatiron District. 

From the north side entrance at 26th and 5th Street, there’s a direct shot of the iconic landmark. 

Walking up and down 5th Avenue also reveals various viewpoints of the building on each block.

Penn Station 34th Street

Penn Station offers a farther street view of the Empire State Building, particularly on 33rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. 

The new Moynihan Train Station expansion provides an incredible view from the East End Gateway to the LIRR Concourse.

Under the Arch at Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is famous in Greenwich Village for its beautiful marble arches. 

This charming location provides multiple viewpoints of the Empire State Building, with the best view from under the arch.

FAQs on Empire State Building lights

1. What time does the Empire State Building light up?

The Empire State Building usually lights up at sunset and continues until midnight, offering a captivating display for nighttime visitors to enjoy.

2. Does the Empire State Building light up every night?

Yes, the Empire State Building lights up every night with its vibrant display of colors and patterns, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for all.

3. Does the Empire State Building light up on Valentine’s Day?

On Valentine’s Day, the Empire State Building adds a touch of romance to its lights, often featuring shades of red and pink.

The lights are lit to celebrate the occasion with a warm and romantic ambiance.

4. What do the Empire State Building lights mean?

The Empire State Building’s lights carry diverse meanings. 

For example, it supports Pride Month with rainbow colors and symbolizes LGBTQ+ inclusivity. 

It commemorates special events and raises awareness for various causes, using light as a powerful medium of expression.

Featured Images: Collaboration with Getty Images

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