Dyker Heights Christmas Lights in 2021: How to See the Lights
We're over-the-top excited that 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 Guide to Christmas for NYC Families.
You'll see giant lights galore on house after house in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Photo by Alex Fitzpatrick via Flickr
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 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 tristate area compares with the 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 11th to 13th 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 courtesy of the Dyker Heights Lights
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 Wednesday, December 1, and run nightly through Thursday, December 30, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required; bring relevant documentation, plus a valid ID, for each member of your party. Children ages 12 and under must be fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 72 hours of the start of the tour. All passengers will also be required to wear a mask while on the bus.
The magical displays wow all ages. Photo by the Rosalind Muggeridge
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.