The Christmas season draws the biggest crowds to New York City, with folks in search of the holiday cheer they’ve seen in the movies. Indeed, there is a holiday attraction worthy of the big screen, the Dyker Heights Christmas lights.
For generations the Brooklyn neighborhood has provided both locals and tourists alike with memories to last a lifetime. An array of colorfully decorated homes serve as backdrop on Christmas photos hung on refrigerators all across the city.
If you’re looking to partake in the festive holiday experience but don’t know where to get started, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide we’ll go over everything there is to know about the Dyker Heights Christmas lights.
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Things to know when visiting New York City for the holidays
New York City is cold during the winter: Average temperatures in December hover around 44° but the windchill makes it feel colder! When you’re headed to check out the Dyker Heights Christmas lights wear an insulated coat, warm hat or beanie, plus these bad boys don’t hurt.
Wear comfortable walking shoes: The subway is an efficient mode of transportation but it won’t drop you off at the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. Even if you catch a ride, once you’re there you’ll have to get out and walk, so you’re going to want shoes that will keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Expect crowds: New York City averages more than 63 million visitors per year, and the holidays are the busy season. There’s a lot of people wanting to see the same attractions, including the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. There isn’t a full proof way to avoid the crowds, but to minimize them try to stop by on a weekday.
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
What are the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights?
The Dyker Heights Christmas lights consists of around 100 houses in south Brooklyn decorated for the holiday season with bright lights, blow up figurines and lawn decorations.
It’s the type of neighborhood you think only exists in movies. It’s almost a mythical place, even saying Dyker Heights Christmas Lights can illicit a sense of nostalgia for the holiday season in a New Yorker’s heart.
There isn’t a concise origin story as to why the neighborhood began decorating, but legend has it Lucy Spata (affectionately dubbed the Queen of Christmas) was the one who sparked the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights phenomena in the 1980’s. As the years rolled on, the decorations got bigger and brighter.
What’s more, some residents decorate their own homes while others hire specialty companies to deck out their houses with impressive lights. It’s not a cheap service, with companies pricing starting at $1,000 minimum (wowzers!).
For the month of December friendly competition runs rampant, with the locals seemingly trying to out do their neighbors. But I’m not complaining since that just means brighter lights for me!
The brighter the Dyker Heights Christmas lights got, the more attention the neighborhood attracted. At some point it became a snowball effect, with neighbors wanting to beat the previous year’s magic.
When is the Dyker Heights Christmas Lighting?
The annual Dyker Heights Christmas lighting takes place the day after Thanksgiving, this year the date falls on November 25th, 2022.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the best day to visit the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights though. It’s important to remember that a lot of the locals decorate themselves, and some elaborate displays can take more than a day to put up.
My suggestion is to visit the neighborhood starting the second week of December so you’re sure to get the full experience. I also suggest visiting on a weekday if at all possible. Crowds are to be expected, but the weekends tend to be the busiest.
The Dyker Heights Christmas lights turn on after the sun goes down, which in December is usually around 4:30PM. Then when the locals start getting ready for bed they’ll pull the plug, usually around 9:00PM.
Something to note: The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights typically start coming down in early January.
Where are the Dyker Heights Christmas lights?
Dyker Heights is a neighborhood in southern Brooklyn, with the main area of decorated houses being the six blocks between 10th and 12th Avenue and 83rd and 86th Street.
From Times Square in Midtown Manhattan you can expect a little under an hour-long subway ride via the R-Train. If you’re driving, parking is available at Dyker Beach Park & Golf Course on 86th Street.
Something to note: no matter which subway line you take to the Dyker Heights Christmas lights you’ll have to walk 15/20 minutes from the stop to get to the neighborhood.
Should you consider taking a tour?
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights is not just the name of the neighborhood that decorates for the holidays, but also the name of the tourism company founded by its residents.
There are two options that warrant some consideration, a bus tour and a walking tour.
In full transparency the bus tour works more like a shuttle. Whether you choose to take part in the bus or walking tour you’ll still be exploring the the neighborhood by foot. The benefit of the bus tour is it conveniently picks you up and drops you off in Midtown Manhattan (near Bryant Park’s Winter Village).
My two cents – if you’re leaning towards taking a tour I’d choose the walking tour and just pay the $2.75 subway fare rather than shelling out the extra cash to get shuttled there.
Seeing the neighborhood through the eyes of a local gives way to a deeper appreciation of the holiday tradition. However, for those just looking for a photo-taking opportunity a tour probably isn’t worth it.
If interested, tickets can be purchased here, with prices starting at $75 for the bus tour and $35 for the walking tour.
Fun facts about Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
- Around 100,000 visitor come to Dyker Heights during the holiday season.
- Some homes have been decorated by the same company for up to 30 years.
- Prices for B&R Decorators, one of the main decorating companies, start at $1,000
- There are more than 100 homes that decorate annually in Dyker Heights
Additional tips for visiting the Dyker Heights Christmas lights
Be respectful of peoples homes. It’s important to remember that folks live in the houses you’re visiting, and they deserve polite guests. This means throwing away your trash (there’s plenty of trash cans, no excuse not to), being mindful of how loud you are and respecting the residents’ privacy.
Make sure to allocate enough time. Walking through the decorated homes in Dyker Heights roughly takes an hour and a half. Plus, if you’re coming from Midtown Manhattan there’s an additional 2 hours of travel round-trip. When visiting the Dyker Heights Christmas lights allocate 3-4 hours for the experience.
Grab something warm to drink. There are plenty of coffee shops surrounding the Dyker Heights neighborhood, and on occasion there will be food trucks parked outside selling everything from cocoa to popcorn. Do yourself a favor and grab something warm, not only will it fight off the cold but it adds to the holiday charm.
Looking for more New York City holiday content?
If the lights at Dyker Heights weren’t enough check out some of our other holiday guides.
- 15 Stunning New York City Christmas Trees (Local’s Guide)
- Where to see Christmas Lights in New York City
- Christmas in New York City: 20 MAGICAL Things to Do (5 to Avoid)
- The Complete Guide to Celebrating New Years in New York City
And there you have it folks, a quick run-down of one of our favorite holiday activities.
We hope you found it helpful.