How To See The Empire State Building Holiday Light Show From Anywhere

During the holiday season, throngs of visitors flock to New York City from around the world. But with closed borders, travel restrictions, and other pandemic-related health and safety precautions, travel will continue to be on hold for most of us this year. 

In the vein of the “show-must-go-on” tradition, the New York City Empire State Building (ESB) will still be holding its much anticipated holiday music-to-light show during the pandemic, a tradition that typically draws an international audience. 

This year’s production features a new duet by superstars Carrie Underwood and John Legend singing Hallelujah. Written by Legend and Toby Gad, the song is part of Underwood’s first-ever Christmas album, My Gift, released in September 2020. 

“I’m honored to be able to join the Empire State Building for this wonderful tradition,” said Underwood. “More than ever, it is a time to embrace the hopefulness and joy of the holiday season, and to share that magic with people around the globe.” 

Lifting spirits with music and lights

Each year, acclaimed lighting designer Marc Brickman selects color combinations for the flashing holiday lights that illuminate the building from the 72nd floor all the way to the tip of the antenna, which sits atop the 102nd. 

In this annual collaboration between Empire State Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE-ESRT) and iHeart Radio, the dazzling lights are synchronized to a mix of classic and modern holiday music from notable artists that have included Mariah Carey and Gwen Stefani.

The festive show will premiere on Saturday, December 19th at 8PM and will be repeated each evening through Christmas Day, December 25th, to be enjoyed around the world. 

Live in the New York area?

New Yorkers in the tri-state area will be able to tune in to the music on iHeartRadio Z100 and LiteFM and simultaneously see the light display from their apartment windows or balconies, or a number of outdoor vantage points, such as: 

  • Manhattan: Madison Square Park, Bryant Park, Penn Station (33rd Street between 7th & 8th Avenues)
  • Brooklyn: Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Marsha P. Johnson State Park (Williamsburg), Brooklyn Bridge/Brooklyn Bridge Park, Williamsburg Waterfront, and Washington Street (DUMBO)  
  • Queens: Gantry Plaza State Park (Long Island City Waterfront) 
  • Hoboken: Hoboken Waterfront Walkway

Wishing you were in New York?

A building known around the world

The art deco-style Empire State Building was built between 1930 and 1931, the tallest building in the world at that time. Its iconic image has appeared on TV and in films, widely recognized as a symbol of New York City.

To celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, red, white and blue floodlights were installed to illuminate the building, a forerunner to the more sophisticated lighting system in place today. Today, a state-of-the-art system of LED lighting recognizes important occasions, holidays and organizations throughout the year. (The lighting system is capable of displaying more than 16 million colors. )

“Our light shows attract millions of eyes and hearts, but none more popular than our annual holiday light show that has grown to become the anticipated and dazzling display of the holiday season,” said Anthony E. Malkin, Chairman, President and CEO of ESRT. “It will remind the world that New York City is alive and kicking, and will be here to welcome back the world for excitement in person in years to come.”


Check out this sneak peek of the 2020 Empire State Building light-to-music show on YouTube.

Learn details of the many other holiday events that take place in NYC.

“New Yorkers and visitors are invited to mask up and safely enjoy this festive, holiday season in New York City, with less crowds, significant savings, and more outdoor activities than ever before,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon. “From ice skating rinks and igloos to colorful light displays, cultural exhibitions and holiday shopping, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.”

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