Dyker Heights Christmas Lights in 2020: How to See the Lights
In 2020, any little bit of normalcy is a welcome surprise. With many annual holiday traditions sitting the season out, we're over-the-top excited to hear the awe-inspiring Dyker Heights Christmas lights, aka the "Dyker Lights," are already going up.
Annually, the Brooklyn neighborhood mounts block-after-block of stunning holiday displays. It's a joyful exercise in holiday excess that lands it on our list of must-do holiday experiences and annually draws throngs of visitors to gawk at the nightly displays.
Read on for the details on this festive neighborhood-wide installation of holiday cheer, plus tips on the best ways to get to the Dyker Heights Christmas lights. Find more can't-miss holiday fun in our Holiday Guide.
Editor's note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining an appropriate distance. If you arrive at an event that appears too crowded, try using the “nearby” search feature on our Event Calendar to find something else to do. Keep in mind, Dyker Heights is a family neighborhood, so be respectful of its residents and your fellow New Yorkers. Enjoy the displays from a safe social distance.
You'll see giant lights galore on house after house in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Photo by Alex Fitzpatrick via Flickr
Are the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Happening in 2020?
Unlike commercial displays in the city, this grassroots effort doesn't have a PR firm or put out a press release. So, we've combed social media and reached out to B&R Christmas Decorators, which decks out many houses here annually. The firm says it's been hard at work decorating houses since late October, and many residents are excited to make the displays extra special in 2020.
Dyker Lights: The Basics
However you get there, the Dyker Heights Christmas lights are worth the trip. It's one of those unforgettable, only-in-New-York experiences your kids will talk about for years. The full light show traditionally turns on for Thanksgiving weekend, but many houses get a jump on it at least a week early. Lights typically go on around dusk, so between 5 and 6pm. They stay on for a few hours; arrive before 9pm to catch the best show.
Follow the neighborhood's Facebook page for updates, and please remember to be respectful. This is someone's neighborhood. Keep the noise down, clean up your trash, and stick to the sidewalks. Don't block driveways or traffic either. There are no public bathrooms, so please use the facilities ahead of time.
While there are other impressive holiday light displays in New York City, New Jersey, and on Long Island, nothing in the tri-state area compares with Dyker Lights. It's not that each house is so spectacular (although a few truly are); it's the overwhelming number of Christmas displays in a single area. It's block after block of twinkling lights, illuminated inflatables, animatronic figures, giant Nutcrackers, and one insanely massive Santa.
Seeing the Dyker Lights by Bus
While the hot spot is Eleventh to Thirteenth Avenues between 83rd and 86th Streets, there are more spectacular houses further out—if you know where to look. Tony Muia, the owner of A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, knows where all the gems are. On his 3½-hour Christmas lights guided tour, you'll see the neighborhood highlights, plus some outliers, including Sam the Greek's outrageous three-story home, one of the best in the area. You pass the displays in Bay Ridge, which, though not as amazing overall, are still impressive, and learn tidbits about many of the families who mount these displays year after year along with some Brooklyn borough history.
The annual Dyker Heights Christmas lights have become a global tourist destination. Photo by Peter Burka via Flickr
If you live in New York and hate the idea of taking a guided tour of anything here, you may want to make an exception for this tour, especially if you don't own a car. It's $55 for adults and $45 for children ages 11 and under, but you don't have the expense and hassle of renting a car, navigating your way out there, and—hardest of all—finding parking. Plus, you learn lots of cool details: how it all began back in the '80s with Lucy Spata's house, how her neighbors initially complained but now they try to one-up her—and watch vintage Christmas TV specials on the bus, which picks up and drops off near Union Square. Tours begin on Tuesday, December 1, and run nightly through Wednesday, December 30, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
COVID precautions for the tours include an advanced air filtration system onboard the bus, plus partitions between each row of seats. Temperature checks are required before boarding and hand sanitizer is located at the front and rear of the bus. Muia also assured us that if cases increase to the point it's not safe to host the tours, they will be canceled and full refunds issued. All passengers are required to wear masks for the duration, so if your children are too young to wear masks or can't tolerate them, it's best to save the tour for another year.
The magical displays wow all ages. Photo by Jody Mercier
Reaching the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights by Subway
If you're an intrepid do-it-yourself type and want to go on your own, the D to 79th Street is the closest stop, but it's still quite a walk. We've done it several times and usually build in a stop for a slice of pizza or a pastry along 13th Avenue to fuel our adventure.
A version of this post was published in 2017; it is updated annually.