When people think about Christmas lights and holiday decorations in New York City, they usually think of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the lavish store window displays of Midtown Manhattan.
But some of the best lights and decorations to be seen are in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
And we should know. We lead daily walking tours here during the Christmas season.
And below, you can watch Katherine, a tour guide for us, Free Tours by Foot, explain how to get here and give you a tour of the area.
The trip to the lights will vary depending on where you are starting from but expect 45-50 minutes by subway from Times Square.
The Dyker Heights lights generally start to appear the day after Thanksgiving, which is the third Thursday in November.
But if you want to ensure that you see the most number of lights, go mid-December through December 31st.
This post goes into more detail on how to visit the Dyker Heights, whether on your own or on an organized tour and has been updated for 2023.
Starting in the 1980s, Christmas started getting bigger and brighter in this neighborhood with each passing year.
There is an unspoken competition among the homeowners in the neighborhood, so some have added huge lawn ornaments and motorized displays, making for a lavish holiday spectacle.
Most of the displays are not actually done by the homeowners, but rather by local professional decorating companies.
In 2023, expect to see massive, professionally done light displays (some costing upwards of $20,000!).
Dyker Heights has truly become a “must-see” for many people during the holidays.
You will see visitors walking through the neighborhood as well as people in their cars rolling by at a few miles per hour all around the area.
We also share some insider tips so you can have a fantastic experience!
If after reading this post you don't want to visit on your own, there are 2 bus tours and a walking tour.
- Also, check out our free Holiday Lights of Manhattan Tour.
- You may also be interested in On Location Tours Holiday Lights & Movie Sites Bus Tour. Receive an online discount here.
And if you are considering visiting at least 2 of NYC's most popular paid attractions, then you can save at least 15% - 50% off on ticket and admission fees with a tourist attractions discount pass.
The best lights are on 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street.
We've made a self-guided Google Map you can use on your smartphone to find your way through the neighborhood.
Most people see the lights on foot but it is possible to see them from your car if you have one.
Getting to Dyker Heights from Times Square takes roughly 45-50 minutes of travel time on the subway plus 15-20 minutes of walking from the subway station to the neighborhood.
There are three subway lines (the R, N, and D trains), that can get you to the neighborhood.
Each line goes to a different station, so you need to pay attention to which train you take.
Regardless of which subway you take, you will still need to walk 15-20 minutes as the main concentration of homes is about a mile (1.6 km) from each subway station.
You can take a bus or an Uber from the subway if you'd like.
Be sure to use our Google Map for directions to the Dyker Heights Christmas lights to see the fastest route for you.
We recommend taking the R train to 86th Street Station in Brooklyn (it's the station with the red arrow in the image above). Here is a Google Maps link to help you.
When you are finished, you can either retrace your steps back to the R train or walk through the neighborhood and take the D train back, or vice versa.
Driving and Parking
For those with a car, you may be wondering if you can see the lights from inside the warmth of your car. The answer is: yes.
But many locals choose this option which is why you will find yourself in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
If you are considering driving to Dyker Heights and then exploring on foot, know that parking is very hard to find.
Your best chances to find parking are between 79th to 86th Street.
However, we recommend public transportation to avoid any vehicular hassles.
BEST TIME TO SEE THE LIGHTS
The Dyker Heights lights start to appear the day after Thanksgiving, which is the third Thursday in November.
But if you want to ensure that you see the most number of lights, go mid-December through December 31st.
By then, most homeowners will have flicked the switch! The lights and decorations are generally gone after New Year's Day.
Starting at dusk every day (4:30/5-ish), the lights are turned on. Most are turned off by 10 pm.
As for the best days of the week, if you want to avoid large crowds, go on a weekday. But even on weekdays, you will be among many other folks who have come to see the lights.
TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT
Here are some tips for your visit to make sure you have the jolliest time possible!
DYKER HEIGHTS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TOUR
We are happy once again to offer our very own walking tour of the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights Brooklyn.
We also list two well-reviewed bus tour operators below.
For our walking tour, meet your tour guide in Brooklyn, where we will take the subway as a group to the main "show".
There, your tour guide will show you all the important light displays and tell you the history behind each of them.
It's a great experience and a great way to make some new friends.
GUIDED WALKING TOUR OF THE LIGHTS
Duration: Tour is 2 hours (4 hours total if coming from Midtown Manhattan). In total, you can expect to walk approximately 3 miles (4.8 km).
When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:15 pm
Cost: $25/person (48 hours notice needed for refund)
Where: Meet your guide outside the Taco Bell on 4th Ave and 87th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. (map).
DYKER HEIGHTS BUS TOURS
We are also partnering with our friends at A Slice of Brooklyn Tours and Tour America to offer a guided bus tour of the Dyker Heights Christmas lights displays.
These excursions are part bus and part walking, but the tours are guided throughout.
Some even make bonus stops at the Brooklyn Bridge and/or the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and DUMBO.
Be sure to also read our comparison and review posts on NYC bus tours.
A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours
With an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, it's safe to say that this company offers excellent bus tours.
Reviews for their Dyker Heights trip are especially positive, as most customers agree that the experience was wonderful.
Guests appreciated their fun and informative tour guides, indicating that they provided a lot of significant details about the light show and the neighborhood.
GUIDED TOUR OF THE LIGHTS
Reservations: Reservations are required. Book Now.
Where: The tour begins at Union Square. The exact location and directions are provided upon booking.
Duration: Approximately 3.5 hours.
When: Every day from December 1 - 30, 2023. Multiple departures daily from 5 pm to 8 pm.
- Priority Adult: $75
- Priority Children: $65
- Standard Adult: $65
- Standard Children: $55
Blackout dates – Dec 24 and Dec 25 as well as Dec 31st and January 1st.
In addition to the services listed above, this company also provides a Dyker Heights Christmas Lights bus tour.
Clocking in at roughly 3 ½ hours, this outing should give you plenty of time to see the beautiful holiday lights in this Brooklyn neighborhood.
As you drive past notable sites, a tour guide will provide narration and point out some of the more magnificent displays.
Once you reach the area, you'll be given 45 minutes to walk around and see the lights up close.
At the end of your trip, you'll have the option to stop at Rockefeller Center and join the ice skaters in front of the iconic Christmas tree.
They also offer this tour en Espanol.
- Ticket Prices: $60 for Adults | $50 for Children
- Duration: 3 ½ hours
- Availability: Dec 1st - Jan 1st @ 5 pm and 6 pm
- 45-minute stop in Dyker Heights for a closer look at the lights
- Stop by Rockefeller Center and join the ice skaters
- Click here for more information.
Overall ratings for this bus tour are very positive (read reviews here).
Most customers agree that Tour America runs an excellent service, indicating that they actually provided a lot of useful information about the city while driving toward their destination.
Guests were pleased that they had the opportunity to hop off for 45 minutes and walk around Dyker Heights to see the lights up close.
DYKER HEIGHTS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Like Tour America's bus tour above, the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights (DHCL) tour provides round-trip transportation to see the lights.
You depart from Midtown Manhattan and enjoy Christmas tunes, free Wi-Fi, and TV on the bus ride to Brooklyn.
Upon arrival in Dyker Heights, you have exclusive access to the Dyker Lights Lounge to warm up or use the restrooms before heading out for your guided walking tour of the holiday displays.
Before boarding your bus back to Manhattan, you will again stop at the lounge for a complimentary cup of hot chocolate and a treat.
The drop-off location is at Bryant Park in Midtown so if you want to enjoy more of the holiday season you can go to the Christmas market which is open until 10 pm.
Reservations: Required. Book here.
Duration: Tour is 4 hours including bus travel time from Midtown Manhattan. Expect to walk approximately 3 miles.
When: 5 p.m. (17:00) every day from November 28, 2023 - to Jan. 6, 2024 (closed December 24, 25, and 31)
OTHER DYKER HEIGHTS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TOURS
Groupon often offers promotions on some Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tours. Be sure to look at the Groupon site for savings on tours.
The best blocks to visit in Dyker Heights are 83rd Street and 84th Street between 10th Avenue and 12th Avenues.
We've made the below map for you to use on a self-guided tour of the lights.
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Walking Tour Map
1152 84th St (map)
Lucy Spata started decorating her house in 1986. If this house doesn't get you in the Christmas spirit nothing will!
She decorates her house (well, her half of a duplex) with all sorts of holiday objects, from reindeer to toy soldiers to Santas.
The Polizotto House
1145 84th Street (map)
Alfred Polizzotto first decorated his house more than 20 years ago as a way to celebrate some pretty great news: Polizzotto’s cancer had gone into remission.
He hired a Brooklyn local to deck out his lawn in thousands of lights, several one-ton mechanical horses, and automatronic toy soldiers.
Though he passed away several years ago, Polizzotto’s family has kept the tradition alive.
The holiday lights have not only brought joy to family and neighbors, but they also deliver happiness to the thousands of children that visit each season.
And the patriarch’s contribution to the hood was not forgotten. The year Alfred Senior passed away, all the Dyker Lights went dark for one night.
Visitors can make donations to the National Cancer Society by way of donation boxes set up all over the Polizzotto’s lawn.
1135 84th St (map)
One of the most interesting houses on this street is the Saita House, an architectural gem that is listed on the National List of Historic Places.
The house is one of the few original houses still remaining when the neighborhood was designed to be a wealthy suburban enclave.
Sam the Greek
71st Street and 14th Avenue (map).
Located about 10 blocks from the Spata home, Sam Livos (Sam the Greek) owns a 3 story house decorated with approximately 300,000 lights.
A few houses down are giant Nutcrackers.
Let us also not forget about the twin houses, one decked out in red and another in green with lighting completely enveloping the homes and even running 20 feet into the air into the trees.
Oh, and depending on the day and time, there is a DJ spinning Christmas music right at the corner of 84th Street and 12th Avenue. It's a fun time even for the tour guides.
WHERE TO EAT IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Should you get hungry after your tour of the neighborhood or want to grab a snack beforehand, there are plenty of places to get food in the area.
There are many fast food chains like Chipotle and Starbucks along 86th Street between the subway and the beginning of the Christmas Lights houses.
If you like Italian food you are in luck! It's the cuisine that Dyker Heights is best known for! Here are some of the best places to go.
A fantastic Italian supermarket. The prepared food section has savory Italian meat dishes, and all sorts of pastas, and vegetables.
Open Mon-Fri 7:30 am - 8 pm, Sat 7:30 am - 7 pm, Sun 7:30 am - 6 pm
Yummy pizzeria to sit down or take out. Also serves salads, calzones, and Italian appetizers.
Open M–Th: 11 am–11 pm, F–Sa: 11 am–12 am, Sun: 12 pm–11 pm.
An Italian deli with over 150 different sandwiches! Meats, cheeses, vegetables, you name it, they’ve got it!
Open Monday-Sat 8 am -7 pm Sunday 8:30 am-2:30 pm.
Makes delicious Italian baked goods to go.
Open Tuesday– Saturday 6:30 am - 8 pm, Sunday 6:30 am - 5 pm. Closed on Mondays
Sit-down cafe with every kind of warm drink under the sun. Plus shakes, cold drinks and a selection of pastries and cookies.
Open daily 8 am - 6 pm.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE IN DYKER HEIGHTS
While a primarily residential area, there are a few sights to see in the area if you like history.
This is the 9th oldest church building in New York City, built in 1828 in the Georgian Gothic style.
The congregation is the 4th oldest Reformed Church in America, serving the Brooklyn community since 1677.
Admission is free at this unique museum. See artifacts and historical items from the old Fort Hamilton, completed in 1831.
Today, Fort Hamilton is the only active-duty military base in the greater New York City area. About half of the original fort has been demolished.
Objects at the museum include army weapons, uniforms, small arms, and cannons, from the 18th century to the present.
See exhibits about the Battle of Brooklyn, World War I, World War II and more.
Open Tuesday - Friday 10 am to 4 pm.