The Most Spectacular Holiday Light Displays in NYC

Enjoy a drive or a walk through the beautiful lights in Dyker Heights. Photo courtesy of Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Enjoy a drive or a walk through the beautiful lights in Dyker Heights. Photo courtesy of Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Every year it seems holiday light installations in New York City get more elaborate, making a visit to the top displays a must-do seasonal activity.

We've rounded up the best holiday light displays in NYC. Most of these attractions are in the more far-flung stretches of the five boroughs, such as Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, the Rockaways and Howard Beach in Queens, and Staten Island, but all of these holiday houses are worth the trip.

So, start your own holiday tradition this year by checking out these spectacular sights when dusk hits. To find more seasonal fun, including a peek at Midtown's holiday store windows, visit our NYC Holiday Fun Guide.

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The houses below light up around Thanksgiving, and displays come down around New Year's Day. Lights go on (and are best seen) after dark. If you want to avoid the crowds and potential traffic jams, go early in the evening on a weekday. These places tend to get busy on weekends. If you're traveling on foot, please respect the homeowners' property and other visitors' space.

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See a neighborhood full of Christmas lights in Dyker Heights
Houses are decorated to the max in the Dyker Heights neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Dyker Heights Lights

Dyker Lights – Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Dyker Heights is famous for its Christmas lights displays. There's even a PBS documentary called Dyker Lights and countless videos on YouTube. Check out our full Dyker Lights review for the details on this over-the-top display that carries on for blocks and blocks.

How to get there: Displays can be seen throughout the neighborhood, but the hot spot is 11th to 13th Avenues between 83rd and 86th Streets. Be prepared for serious gridlock or take the subway. The D train to 79th Street is the closest stop, but it's still quite a walk.

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Howard Beach residents are going all out with Christmas decorations this year
Get festive and support the local fire department at the Modaferri home. Photo courtesy of the family

Modafferi Home – Howard Beach, Queens

97-03 165th Avenue
Tony Modafferi has been lighting up his corner lot for more than 30 years. The lights are on full display nightly between 5pm and 10pm. Bring some extra cash to donate to the local volunteer fire department.

How to get there: Tony Modafferi's home is on the corner of 97th Street and 165th Avenue in Howard Beach. It's best reached by car, though the A train to the Howard Beach/JFK station is about a 20-minute walk from Modafferi's home.

Little North Pole – Rockaway, Queens

144-03 Neponsit Avenue
The home of Joe Mure turns into a sight fit for Santa annually, with a charitable mission to boot. Updates about this year's display are posted on its Instagram account. Usually, the Little North Pole's over-the-top decor stays on through the holiday season with two missions: to put a smile on visitors' faces and, thanks to a collection box out front, raise money for children with juvenile diabetes.

How to get there: Located at Neponsit Avenue and West 144th Street, a car is your only option.

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Community Chiropractic puts on a Christmas lights display
Dr. Michael Montalbano transforms his office, Community Chiropractic of Whitestone, into a winter wonderland. Photo by the author

Community Chiropractic – Whitestone, Queens

199-04 22nd Avenue
For the past 15 years, Dr. Michael Montalbano has transformed his office, Community Chiropractic of Whitestone, into a winter wonderland. It takes about nine days for Montalbano and his wife to set up the displays at the office, which was previously a residential home. This year they have three sections: the North Pole, city streets, and a nativity scene–each with its own music. They also accept donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Santa will be outside the office Saturday, December 18 (Rain date: Sunday, December 19). Drop by to say hello and snap a photo.

How to get there: The fastest way to get there is by car. Another option is the Q31 bus, which drops you off about 10 minutes away from the office.

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The Christmas Lights 4 Life house mounts a dazzling display annually
In Staten Island, the DiMartino house, dubbed Christmas Lights 4 Life, raises funds to fight children's cancer. Photo courtesy of Lights 4 Life

Lights 4 Life — Charleston

107 Sharrotts Road
Joe DiMartino and his family transform their house into a Christmas wonderland annually in honor of DiMartino's wife, Debra Ann, who was killed on 9/11. The display covers every square inch of the property and allows revelers to gawk at tableaus like Mrs. Claus baking gingerbread, a nativity scene, and more. Donations are collected for Staten Island University Hospital's pediatric cancer ward.

How to get there: While a car is the optimal form of transportation on the Island, the X22 bus drops you about 4 minutes from the house.

Got a car and looking for fun seasonal outings? Find out about the most decked-out holiday houses on Long Island, in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, and New Jersey.

This story, originally published in December 2009, is updated annually. Judith Aquino contributed additional reporting.

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