New York City transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood standing out as a highlight. The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights are a dazzling spectacle, drawing visitors from Manhattan and beyond, turning this neighborhood into a festive paradise.
“A Festive Wonderland in Brooklyn”
This tradition, over 30 years in the making, features giant, beautifully adorned homes competing in an unspoken, friendly contest to spread holiday cheer. Each year, about 100,000 visitors marvel at these breathtaking displays.
Topics in this article:
- Is It Worth It?
- 3 Reasons to Visit
- Is It Free?
- Is It Safe?
- Origin of the Tradition
- Display Timings | Best Time
- Getting There
- Great for Kids?
- Best Photo Spots
- Are there Restrooms?
- Visiting on Your Own vs. Tour
- More Tips
It’s a tradition where giant homes are decorated in a friendly competition, creating a scene straight out of a holiday movie.
Of course, you can visit on your own. However, we always felt more relaxed when we used a tour. It takes away the headache of getting there via the subway, and it’s the safest option as well.
- Open: From the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
- Most Lights: From the second week of December until Christmas or NYE.
- Hours: Daily from dusk (around 5:30 PM) to approximately 10:00-11:00 PM.
- Location: Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, NYC, Google Maps
- Time to Spend: Plan for 60-90 minutes to enjoy the displays comfortably.
- Accessibility: Best reached by subway; expect a 10-15 minute walk from the nearest stations.
Is It Worth It?
Described as one of the most magical things to do during Christmas in NYC, the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights display is absolutely worth seeing. It features over-the-top decorations like life-sized Santas, sleighs, and snowmen. Some homes even play Christmas carols on loudspeakers, adding to the festive atmosphere.
It’s a unique experience that captures the essence of holiday joy and is perfect for visitors of all ages.
3 Reasons to Visit | A Summary
- Unparalleled Festive Atmosphere: The neighborhood’s transformation into a holiday spectacle offers an immersive experience in the spirit of Christmas, unmatched in its scale and enthusiasm.
- Community and Tradition: Witnessing the community’s dedication to this annual tradition provides a unique insight into the local culture and the communal spirit of the holiday season in Brooklyn.
- Photographic Wonderland: For photography enthusiasts and social media lovers, Dyker Heights offers endless opportunities to capture stunning holiday-themed photos, making it a perfect backdrop for memorable holiday pictures.
Is It Free?
Visiting the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights is generally free, as there’s no admission fee to walk around and enjoy the displays. However, it’s worth noting that some homeowners may have a money drop or box for various charities.
They use the opportunity of visitors coming to see their lights as a chance to give back. If you’re interested in participating and supporting these charitable efforts, it’s a good idea to bring some extra cash or change. This gesture of donation is voluntary and contributes to the community spirit of the event.
However, if you book a tour (which we often do) then there’s the tour price, of course.
Is It Safe?
Visiting the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights is generally considered safe. The event takes place in a residential neighborhood that welcomes a large number of visitors each year without significant safety issues. However, as with any popular public event, especially in the evenings, it’s always prudent to take basic safety precautions:
- Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Keep an eye on your personal belongings and be aware of the people around you.
- Follow Traffic Rules: The streets can be busy with both pedestrians and vehicles. Be mindful when crossing streets and follow traffic signals.
- Visit in Groups: If possible, visit with a group or family, as there is safety in numbers.
- Plan Your Transportation: Make sure you have a safe way to get to and from the area, especially if you’re using public transportation or walking. Our tip: Book a safe and hassle-free tour!
- Dress Appropriately: The event is outdoors during winter, so dress warmly to avoid any discomfort or health issues related to the cold weather.
By taking these precautions, your visit to the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights should be a safe and enjoyable experience.
Visiting the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights is an experience that truly embodies the spirit of the holiday season. As you wander through this Brooklyn neighborhood, each turn brings a new, breathtaking display of lights and decorations, transforming the streets into a luminous winter wonderland.
The creativity and passion of the homeowners shine through in every elaborate setup, from towering inflatable Santas to elegantly lit reindeer. It’s not just the visual spectacle that makes it worth the visit; it’s the sense of community and shared joy that fills the air.
Whether you’re snapping photos by the most dazzling houses or simply soaking in the festive atmosphere, Dyker Heights offers a unique and heartwarming experience that captures the essence of Christmas in New York City.
The Origin of the Tradition
The tradition began in the 1980s with Lucy Spata, who moved to Dyker Heights and wanted to honor her mother’s festive spirit. The Spata House at 1152 84th Street is a must-see, known for its extraordinary decorations, including angels in the front yard commemorating her mother. Initially met with skepticism, the neighborhood gradually embraced this festive spirit, turning it into an unofficial annual decorating contest.
Display Timings | Best Time
The lights are typically displayed from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, lighting up every day from dusk until around 10 pm.
While some homes may start displaying their lights a bit later, the best viewing period is often considered to be after the first week of December through Christmas.
However, mid-December to New Year’s is also the busiest time, so visiting earlier might offer a more relaxed experience. We always go in the second week of December. While it’s already busy, you can still see the most number of lights.
The subway is your best bet for reaching Dyker Heights, with the 86th Street Station (R train) and 79th Street Station (D train) as the closest stops. Expect a 10-15 minute walk from these stations to the heart of the light displays.
Great for Kids?
Absolutely! Kids can definitely enjoy the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. This festive display is a family-friendly event that delights visitors of all ages. The enchanting lights, life-sized Santas, sleighs, and snowmen create a magical atmosphere that is especially captivating for children.
Additionally, the sound of Christmas carols playing from some houses adds to the joyous environment. It’s an ideal outing for families looking to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit and create lasting memories. Just remember to dress warmly, as the adventure involves walking outdoors in winter conditions.
Best Photo Opportunities
Some tips for great photo opportunities:
- The Spata House: Located at 1152 84th Street, this is one of the main attractions and usually has elaborate decorations.
- Streets with Concentrated Decorations: Wander through the neighborhood to find streets where multiple houses have gone all out with their decorations.
- Life-Sized Displays: Look for houses with life-sized Santas, sleighs, and snowmen for a fun and festive backdrop.
- Nighttime Sparkle: Visit after dusk when the lights are all lit up for that magical holiday glow.
These general tips should help you capture some wonderful photos at the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. Remember, each year can bring new displays and arrangements, so exploring different parts of the neighborhood could lead to unique and beautiful photo opportunities.
Are There Restrooms Nearby?
The availability of restrooms near the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights can be a bit challenging since the event takes place in a residential neighborhood. Public restrooms are not typically available on the streets where the lights are displayed.
However, you may find restroom facilities in nearby restaurants, cafes, or businesses, where access might be limited to customers. It’s a good idea to plan accordingly and possibly use facilities at a restaurant or coffee shop if you plan to dine or grab a drink in the area.
Visiting on Your Own vs. Tour
Choosing between exploring on your own or joining a tour depends on your preferences for flexibility, cost, and the type of experience you’re looking for. If you enjoy self-guided exploration and are on a budget, visiting on your own is a great choice.
However, if you prefer an organized, informative experience with the ease of transportation, a tour might be the better option.
Via a Tour
- Guided Experience: Tours often provide background information and historical context, enhancing your understanding of the tradition.
- Convenience: Tours handle the logistics, including transportation and navigating the best routes to see the most impressive displays.
- Social Interaction: Joining a tour can be a social experience, offering the opportunity to meet and share the experience with others.
Visiting on Your Own
- Flexibility: Exploring Dyker Heights on your own allows you to set your own pace and schedule. You can spend as much or as little time as you like at each display.
- Cost-Effective: There’s no cost to walk around and enjoy the lights, making it a budget-friendly option.
- Adventure: Discovering the lights on your own can be an adventure, as you navigate through the neighborhood and find hidden gems.
- Be Prepared for Walking: There’s a lot of ground to cover, so wear comfortable shoes. Remember, it’s a 15-minute walk from the nearest subway stops.
- Dress Warmly: NYC winters can be cold. Wear layers, warm, water-resistant boots, and consider hand warmers for those especially chilly evenings.
- Optimal Viewing Time: The lights are best seen after dusk, usually around 5:30 pm. Most homes turn off their lights by 10:00-11:00 pm.
- Avoiding Crowds: Weekends and days closer to Christmas and New Year’s are busier. Visiting earlier in the season might mean fewer lights but also fewer people.
- Charitable Opportunities: Some homes have donation boxes for charities. Bring some cash if you’d like to contribute.
- Local Treats: Enjoy a hot drink from Twist Coffee or a sweet treat from Tasty Pastry Shoppe, both located near the lights.
- Dining Options: For a quick bite, try Lioni’s Italian Heros. For a sit-down meal, Skinflint’s in Bay Ridge is a great option, though it’s a bit of a walk or a short rideshare away.
- Yearly Variations: Like snowflakes, the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights are unique each year, making repeat visits a new experience.
The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights offer a magical journey into a world of festive joy. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting NYC during the holidays, providing an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults. This Brooklyn neighborhood’s passion for the holiday spirit is evident in every twinkling light and joyous decoration, promising a delightful outing for your family.