Apollo Theater
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An Insider's Guide to Harlem's Apollo Theater

Having launched the careers of countless African-American musicians, the Apollo Theater in New York City's Harlem neighborhood ranks amongst the most important venues in the United States. Here are some of the events that shaped The Apollo's rich history.

A historic venue is born
Photo: David Jones@flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A historic venue is born

Though built in 1913, The Apollo didn't receive its name until it was opened to black patrons in 1934. It became one of the most important institutions for African-American music.

Rubbing the stump
Photo: Travis Wise@flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Rubbing the stump

After a popular Elm tree in front of the theater was chopped down, the stump was relocated inside and performers started the tradition of rubbing the stump for good luck.

Amateur Night

The Apollo's legendary Amateur Nights were the start of many an illustrious career. In 1934, the 15-year-old Ella Fitzgerald became one of the first Amateur Night success stories.

Live at the Apollo
Photo: David Goehring@flickr CC BY 2.0)

Live at the Apollo

James Brown's 1962 recording "Live at the Apollo" was a huge success, spending 66 weeks on the Billboard charts and motivating many others to also record their shows at The Apollo.

Michael Jackson's breakthrough
Photo: David Wilson@flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Michael Jackson's breakthrough

Michael Jackson's 1967 Apollo debut with the Jackson 5 propelled him to fame. He performed at the venue throughout his career and a tribute was held there upon his death in 2009.

Our insider tips

Attend Amateur Night

The Apollo still hosts their famed Amateur Nights. They're one of the venue's most popular events so check their schedule and book your ticket in advance to snag a seat to this musical highlight.

Grab a bite to eat

If you hope to cap your night of soulful music with some authentic soul food, the area around The Apollo is brimming with excellent restaurants. The landmark restaurant Sylvia's is located two blocks away!

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Box Office open Monday - Saturday 10:00AM - 6:00PM, Sunday 12:00PM - 5:00PM
  • Is it expensive?
    Tickets vary based on the event.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Guides are not necessary for events.
  • How to get there
    On NYC Subway take the A, B, C, or D train to 125th Street and walk east to reach the theater.
  • Additional information

    • Purchase at least 2 tickets and receive a 30% discount.

    • Sign up for the Apollo A-list and receive emails providing advance notice on shows.

What people are saying about Apollo Theater

Overall rating
4.4 / 5
based on 927 reviews

fantastic day great tour anyone who loves hip hop should book this

we had a fantastic day on the hip hop tour,entertained from start to finish Caz our tour guide,has a vast knowledge of how hip hop began and his passion for this shines throughout,he can share all the history of what made hip hop the graffitti and the areas from Spanish Harlem to the Bronx all come to life for someone who has never visited these areas before . The music played on the bus was excelllent and we also had a performance from Caz singing live which was the highlight for me, I would definately recomend this tour if you are up for fun, participation, learning the history of hip hop and seeing parts of New York that you never expected to then this is the place to be .Thanks again to Caz for making this such a great day.

One of the best tours you should go on. Excellent!!!

I took a friend on this tour as he's really into Hip-Hop. As the tour proceeded I found myself learning so many thing I did not know,and enjoying every moment of it Both tour guides were interactive and made sure you enjoyed every moment of the whole tour. I would recommend this tour to anyone wanting to learn the history of hip-hop,and enjoys good music. Thanks you,thank you,thank you!!

Interesting and interactive hip hop tour

We really enjoyed this tour with Caz - he kept us interested throughout with facts. A demonstration from a real life b-boy and a chance to join in too. My son, soon to be 17, loved it as did I. The bus was a comfy ride with some cool music. Really enjoyed Jacob’s soul food too - don’t forget your wallet though as it’s not included in the tour price.

From Manhattan: 4-Hour Birthplace of Hip-Hop Bus Tour Reviewed by

All the best and most beautiful places in Harlem!

It was a real pleasure spending two hours walking with our guide George. He showed us the beauty of this neighborhood both now and through stories of it’s past. We spent a week walking around NYC but the tour with George was my very favorite. Thank you so much, George!

Excellent tour guide and interesting things to see

Our tour guide was really good and knew heaps of interesting history about Harlem. The church service wasn't quite what I expected but the other things that we saw were quite interesting. We had a small group so it was easy to ask questions. I highly recommend

4-hour Harlem Gospel Tour in New York City Reviewed by
Cover photo: The All-Nite Images, CC BY 2.0