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Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Empire State Building Announces Fan-Favorite Holiday Programs to Include 20 th Anniversary Elf Activations, Classic Holiday Décor, Festive Pop-Ups, Special Lightings and More


The Empire State Building (ESB) today announced the details of its annual holiday festivities. Celebrations through the end of the year will include seasonal holiday décor, visits from Santa Claus, pop ups, and special tower lightings.

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Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Empire State Building Announces Fan-Favorite Holiday Programs to Include 20th Anniversary Elf Activations, Classic Holiday Décor, Festive Pop-Ups, Special Lightings and More (Photo: Business Wire)

“The holiday season is upon us, and we are excited to provide our guests with one-of-a-kind, holiday-themed experiences here at the Empire State Building,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, president of the Empire State Building Observatory. “This year’s visitors are in for lots of treats -- from photos with Santa to elaborate holiday decorative displays and dedications to the Empire State Building’s co-star, ‘Elf,’ to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary.”

Deck the Halls
Ornaments, wreaths, tinsel, and bows with silver and gold accents adorn the entire Observatory Experience with a large, bright menorah in front of the two-story building model. Inspired by Santa’s workshop, guests can take their holiday photos on the Empire State Building’s 80th Floor in a snowy corner display with Christmas trees, wrapped presents, a cozy fireplace backdrop, and Santa’s oversized chair.

The building’s landmark Fifth Avenue Lobby, that can be visited after conclusion of guests’ visits to the Observatory, is adorned with hanging holiday lights, wreaths, and an embellished Christmas tree. The iconic Fifth Avenue windows depict snowy scenes of Buddy the Elf and his friends as he travels from the North Pole to the “World’s Most Famous Building.” From Nov. 27 through Dec. 29, tenants and visitors who pass through the Fifth Avenue Lobby from Monday through Friday will hear festive holiday tunes performed by professional pianists.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
On Dec. 2, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, and 22, Santa Claus himself will collect wish lists, spread holiday cheer, and pose for photos with Observatory guests in his own decorated corner on the 80th Floor. For more information on times, please visit

ESB Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of ‘Elf’
The beloved Christmas comedy features Buddy the Elf, who in the famous 2003 film travels to meet his father at his office in the Empire State Building. To celebrate the Christmas classic and the Empire State Building’s lead role in the film, ‘Elf’ will take over the Observatory with themed décor in the building’sFifth Avenue windows and on the 86th Floor Observatory.

Fans can purchase a special ticket to view ‘Elf’ at one of four screenings on the Observatory’s 80th Floor on Sunday, Dec. 3, 10, 13 and 17. Tickets will include holiday-themed drinks and snacks, and full access to ESB’s second floor museum and 86th Floor Observatory. Tickets can be purchased here.

Baby It’s Cold Outside!
Nov. 23 through Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., S’mores N’more will pop up to sell their famed hot chocolate with oversized marshmallows to guests who purchase tickets to the 86th Floor Observation deck. Special flavors will include:

  • “The Buddy” -- inspired by ‘Elf’, a classic hot chocolate with whipped cream, a pop tart marshmallow, M&Ms, chocolate, and a maple syrup drizzle
  • “The King” -- inspired by “Kong” himself, a classic hot chocolate with whipped cream, a banana chocolate chip marshmallow, chocolate and banana poke sticks, and cocoa dust
  • “Christmas in the Clouds,” a peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream, a peppermint marshmallow, a York peppermint patty, and Christmas sprinkles

The Empire State Building’s world-famous outdoor Observatory is also equipped with heaters on the 86th Floor Observation Deck during the chillier months to provide guests with a comfortable viewing experience.

Holiday Lightings
The Empire State Building’s world-famous tower lights will shine throughout the holiday season with dedicated lightings for Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. The Empire State Building will also debut its annual holiday music-to-light show.

The Empire State Building’s world-famous Observatory Experience recently underwent a $165 million reimagination that features an interactive museum with nine galleries, brand-new host uniforms, and iconic Observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors. The Observatory Experience was recently named #1 attraction in the U.S. for the second consecutive year by TripAdvisor travelers. Text CONNECT to 274-16 to receive information about each Empire State Building tower lighting. More information about the Empire State Building can be found online.

About the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building, the “World's Most Famous Building," owned by Empire State Realty Trust, Inc. (ESRT: NYSE), soars 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan from base to antenna. The $165 million reimagination of the Empire State Building Observatory Experience creates an all-new experience with a dedicated guest entrance, an interactive museum with nine galleries, and a redesigned 102nd Floor Observatory with floor-to-ceiling windows. The journey to the world-famous 86th Floor Observatory, the only 360-degree, open-air observatory with views of New York and beyond, orients visitors for their entire New York City experience and covers everything from the building's iconic history to its current place in pop culture. The Empire State Building Observatory Experience welcomes millions of visitors each year and was declared "America's Favorite Building" by the American Institute of Architects, the world's most popular travel destination by Uber, the #1 attraction in the US for the second year in a row in Tripadvisor’s 2023 Travelers’ Choice Awards: Best of the Best, and the #1 New York City attraction in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel List.

Since 2011, the building has been fully powered by renewable wind electricity, and its many floors house a diverse array of office tenants such as LinkedIn and Shutterstock, as well as retail options like STATE Grill and Bar, Tacombi, and Starbucks. For more information and Observatory Experience tickets visit or follow the building's Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Weibo, YouTube, or TikTok.

Source: Empire State Realty Trust, Inc.
Category: Observatory

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Empire State Realty Trust
Jamie Steinberg

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