This post is about how to visit the Christmas lights displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, whether on your own or on an organized tour, and has been updated for 2021.
When people think about 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 sights to be seen are actually in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
Starting in the 1980s, Christmas started getting bigger and brighter out in Brooklyn with each passing year.
In 2020, expect to see massive, professionally done light displays (some costing upwards of $20,000!).
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. Just check out the video above.
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.
And if after reading this post you don't want to do it yourself, 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 will be able to 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.
From Times Square, it's roughly 60-70 minutes of travel time with public transport to the neighborhood, including 15-20 min of walking from the subway station to the neighborhood.
We also created a Google Map that you can use on your smartphone to navigate the neighborhood.
There are actually 3 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 min, take a bus, (or take an Uber) after you leave the subway, as the main concentration of homes is about a mile (1.6 km) from each subway station.
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 (map).
There you could grab a coffee, hot chocolate, a sandwich, and/or water at Mocha Mocha Coffee Shop at the corner of 86th Street and 4th Ave in Brooklyn.
Most importantly for some, paying customers can use their bathrooms.
From Mocha Mocha, it's approximately 15 minutes by foot to the start of the lights. You can also take a bus and shave off 5 minutes. Why not just take an Uber?
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. Of course, you can do this vice versa.
- The Dyker Heights lights start the weekend after Thanksgiving, but the best time to see the most lights is in mid-December or later when most of the displays are up and running.
- The best displays are usually on weekends.
- Try to go between 5 and 9 pm. Most owners turn on lights when it gets dark and then start shutting them down before they go to bed.
- Remember, this is a neighborhood. Do not litter or scream and do not ring people's doorbells and ask to go to the bathroom.
- Bring some $1 and $5 with you. Many of the families who put on these displays for your enjoyment also collect money for local charities. You may also find hot cocoa being sold on the street.
- Look for the Spata house (with Santa outside, played by family members) and the Polizzotto house (with 29-foot motorized wooden soldiers). They were among the first families to begin the tradition of elaborate decorations in the neighborhood in the 1980s.
- The best lights are located about a mile walk (15-20 min), so be prepared! Or, take an Uber.
- December in NYC can be very chilly and you will be outside for a while. Dress warmly! Read our post on December weather in the Big Apple.
- Consider making a stop for hot chocolate or warm drinks. Several reviewers suggest that hot drinks can help to keep you warm while seeing the holiday displays in this neighborhood. You could also bring something warm to drink in a thermos if you don't feel like stopping at a store.
- Several visitors recommend stopping at some of the restaurants located on 3rd, 4th or 5th street for a quick bite to eat either before or after your walk around the neighborhood.
- Most of the displays are not actually done by the homeowners, but rather by local professional decorating companies.
- The Dyker Lights are always wonderful, but for a really fantastic (and easier!) experience, there is an organized bus tour that takes visitors out to Dyker Heights and shows them around. This is a good option for anyone who is worried about finding their way around. Plus, it is always great to get a little extra information on a tour! Of course, our pay-what-you-like tour is the best way to go.
We are happy once again to offer our very own walking tour of the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights Brooklyn, but 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).
Where: Meet your guide outside the Starbucks located inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall. Atlantic Terminal Mall is located just above the Atlantic Avenue subway station, near the exit/entrance for Tracks 3+4 in 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.
Be sure to also read our comparison and review post 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: Tour begins at Union Square. The exact location and directions are provided upon booking.
Duration: Approximately 3.5 hours.
When: 4 daily departures (5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm)
- $55 Adults
- $45 Children under 12.
- $65 Adults/priority seating (1st 4 rows)
- $55 Children under 12/priority seating
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.
At the end of your trip, you'll have the option to stop at Rockefeller Center and join the ice skaters in front of their iconic Christmas tree.
They also offer a tour en Espanol.
- Ticket Prices: $60 for Adults | $45 for Children
- Duration: 3 ½ hours
- Availability: Nov 24th – Jan 3rd | 4 PM/5 PM/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 especially happy 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, Dyker Heights Christmas Lights' 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 spirit 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 pm (17:00) every day from Dec. 21 - Jan. 1, 2020 (including Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day)
The single best block to visit in Dyker Heights is 84th Street between 11th and 12th Avenue (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.
Below, get a peek of the Saita House and the rest of the homes on 84th Street without lights.
Click on the map for an interactive map that you can download onto your phone.
Near 12th Avenue, there are often people selling hot cocoa and Christmas sweets for the tourists and 3 of the most elaborately lighted houses in the area.
The Spata House
1152 84th St (map)
Lucy Spata started it all roughly 30 years ago. You could call her a legitimate Christmas junkie.
She decorates her house (well, her half of a duplex) with all sorts of holiday objects, from reindeer to toy soldiers to Santas.
Click on the video below to get her story.
The Polizotto House
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.
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.