Every year it seems the Christmas light installations in New York City get more elaborate, making a visit to the top holiday lights displays a must-do seasonal activity.
We've rounded up the best holiday lights displays in NYC. Most of these attractions are in the far-flung stretches of the five boroughs, such as Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, the Rockaways and Howard Beach in Queens, and on 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 Christmas lights when dusk hits. To find more seasonal fun, visit our NYC Kids' Guide to Holiday Fun.
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 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.
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.
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 from 5-10pm. 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.
The Little North Pole was created to spread holiday cheer in Rockaway and raise funds for Juvenile Diabetes Research. Photo courtesy of the Mure Family
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, to raise money for children with juvenile diabetes. On Saturday, November 25, stop by for live entertainment, tasty food donated by local vendors, and toys for every kid.
How to get there: Located at Neponsit Avenue and West 144th Street, a car is your only option.
4. 73rd Street, Upper East Side
East 73rd Street between Second and Third Avenues
While not a traditional holiday lights display, this is still an enchanting sight that's more convenient than other destinations on our list. Take a twinkly stroll along East 73rd Street, where neighbors band together each year to adorn the street's 22 trees with thousands of white lights. Afterward, wander the neighborhood to see other festively decorated houses.
How to get there: Take the Q train to the 72nd Street stop.
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.