Apollo Theater

253 W. 125th St.
Manhattan, NY 10027


Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater is important not only because it honors and promotes the contributions of black American performers, but also because it is a living example of progress: The building was originally a burlesque theater that did not allow black patrons. Visit the Apollo for an Amateur Night, which started the careers of so many legends—including Ella Fitzgerald—or take a historical tour of the building.

This world-famous theater is one of Harlem’s most beloved attractions, best known for showcasing African-American performers. The landmark 1,500-seat venue took on its current identity in 1934; in the years since, performers who have taken its stage include legends like James Brown, Michael Jackson and B.B. King. One of its defining events has long been Amateur Night, now taking place on Wednesdays throughout much of the year, during which entertainers try to impress the tough audience. Those who make the cut often go on to greatness—think Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Wonder.

Photo: Joe Buglewicz

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Amateur Night audience protocol? Audiences are the talent judges here. If someone doesn’t like the performance, that person boos. If others join in and the booing coalesces into a movement, a comedian nicknamed the Executioner comes onto the stage to remove the performer (but not, we hasten to clarify, to execute them).

Can I audition for Amateur Night? Yes, you can. The Apollo hosts auditions in NYC several times a year. You can also try out for the show by submitting a Vimeo or YouTube video of your performance. Check the venue’s website for audition info.

Has anyone recovered from a rough Amateur Night? Yes, Dave Chappelle and Lauryn Hill among them.

What else is going on at the Apollo? The theater has a second stage, called Soundstage, which hosts an ongoing music café and a comedy series.


  • Historic Sites & Landmarks
  • Comedy
  • Live Music
  • Comedy
  • Dance
  • Cultural & Theme Tours
  • Cultural Tours

Related Events

Amateur Night

Arts & Culture Amateur Night

Amateur Night features artists from all backgrounds looking to win over the capricious Apollo crowd each Wednesday night.

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Apollo Comedy Club

Comedy Apollo Comedy Club

This monthly series brings sets from some of today's up-and-coming comedians. 

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Apollo Music Cafe

Nightlife Apollo Music Cafe

Apollo Music Café features artists across all musical genres in the Apollo's Soundstage

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Amateur Night Holiday Special

Music Amateur Night Holiday Special

The legendary weekly Apollo amateur night toasts the season at this family-friendly party, featuring the recent winners of the show’s...

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Holidays at the Apollo

Attractions Holidays at the Apollo

The legendary Apollo Theater presents a month full of holiday events.

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The First Noel

Performing Arts The First Noel

co-production by the Apollo and Classical Theatre of Harlem

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Kwanzaa Celebrations

Festivals & Parades Kwanzaa Celebrations

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Amateur Night Opening

Performing Arts Amateur Night Opening

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About the Apollo Theater: Harlem's acclaimed Apollo Theater is important not only because it honors and promotes the contributions of black performers but also because it is a living example of progress: the building was originally a burlesque theater that did not allow black patrons or performers. While you're in the neighborhood: Legendary Harlem eateries and music clubs are within walking distance of the neighborhood's biggest symbol, the Apollo Theater. Make the short walk south to a few worthy places for an after-dinner (or -show) drink.


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