New York at Christmas time offers many things to do: illuminated shop windows, decorated streets and avenues, skating rinks.... But if there's one thing you can't miss, it's the decorations in Dyker Heights.
With a lot of imagination and creativity, the neighbors of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn have turned their neighborhood into a must-see in New York at Christmas. You've never seen anything like it except in the movies - get ready for the display of color and holiday lights and set out to discover one of New York's best neighborhoods!
Discover Dyker Heights on a tour of Boorklyn and marvel at the neighborhood's Christmas lights.
The best way to tour this amazing place is to take a guided bus tour to see the spectacular Christmas decorations put up by the locals themselves.
The Dyker Heights Christmas tour is definitely a great idea for those looking for a plan to enjoy Christmas in New York. The bus tour through the streets of Brooklyn to see the Christmas decorations of the houses will leave you speechless and will be one of the best memories you will have of your time in the city during this magical season.
You will see the extravagant lights, snowmen and impressive Santa Claus figures that decorate the houses of this residential area whose neighbors have made this a very popular destination at this time of the year. The local guide who will accompany you will tell you how this original idea of Dyker Heights came about and you will be able to take the best snapshots along the tour.
Recommended if... you want to discover this corner of New York where you will be dazzled by the Christmas light show prepared by the neighbors and you will also enjoy twice as much when you go in a comfortable bus that takes you on a round trip from Manhattan.
What is Dyker Heights like?
Dyker Heights is actually a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn that would be nothing special if it weren't for the fact that every Christmas its residents get into the Christmas spirit and transform their private homes into a place that looks like something out of an American movie thanks to a huge decorative and illuminative display that is so typical of this time of year.
Some choose discreet and sophisticated lights to decorate their homes while others indulge in excess and recharge them to the point of leaving no empty space with all kinds of garlands, balls, inflatables and Christmas figurines singing Christmas carols. To walk the streets and comfortably enjoy this spectacle I recommend you sign up for the Dyker Heights Christmas tour.
Why go to Dyker Heights for Christmas?
If you like Christmas decorations and lights, I highly recommend it because it's quite a sight to see an "American" themed neighborhood for Christmas. The locals go out of their way to impress visitors every year and visitors have a blast taking pictures of Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, elves and more - you'll be hard pressed to find a dark house at dusk!
How to get to Dyker Heights?
Dyker Heights is located in southwest Brooklyn, between the neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge. You can go on your own by public transportation or by taking a Brooklyn Christmas tour, in a comfortable vehicle that will take you on a round trip from downtown Manhattan.
By public transportation
Dyker Heights is approximately one hour by subway from Manhattan. It does not have a subway station but the surrounding neighborhoods do. There are several options for getting there by public transportation (see here for a guide to using the New York subway).
- Take the R subway line and get off in the Bay Ridge neighborhood at the 86th St. stop. There are cafes and stores around this subway stop, so if you need to go to the restroom or want to buy something to warm up you will have to do it here. Remember that Dyker Heights is a residential neighborhood and there are hardly any stores. To get there you only have to walk about 15-20 minutes from the subway.
- Take the D subway line and get off at the Bensonhurst stop at 79th St. Although this area also has some shopping, the atmosphere is not like Bay Ridge. 20 minutes walk from the subway station will get you to Dyker Heights.
- You can also take the bus from Wall Street on the X28 line, an alternative that leaves you at 86th St. and 12th Ave, a five-minute walk from the decorated houses. To return by bus to Manhattan you can take the B1 bus.
What is the Dyker Heights Christmas lights tour like?
Christmas is a magical time of year in New York and there are many ways to enjoy it. If you love Christmas decorations, I recommend you take the Dyker Heights Christmas lights tour so you don't miss out on any of this tradition as there are details that you might miss doing it on your own.
Not only will you see the lighting of this picturesque neighborhood, but you will explore it listening to the guide's anecdotes in Spanish about this fun event and you may even meet some of the owners of the brand new houses. In addition, you won't be so cold in the middle of winter in New York as you will travel comfortably in a vehicle with the group instead of transferring by public transportation.
To top it all off, on the way back to Midtown you will stop at the Brooklyn Bridge to admire the spectacular Manhattan skyline. In short, it is a very complete tour to enjoy the Christmas spirit of New York and I assure you that you will leave Dyker Heights with a smile on your lips. If you are also a Christmas lover, you can not miss the best Christmas trees in New York.
What are the most famous houses in Dyker Heights?
The most spectacular decorations in Dyker Heights are located between 83rd and 86th Streets and between 10th and 12th Avenues. Since this is a neighborhood initiative, not every year the same houses in the neighborhood are decorated, but there are always surprises. These are the most popular ones:
Lucy Spata's house
The house of the precursor of this tradition attracts crowds of tourists. It's like the crown jewel of Dyker Heights. You'll recognize it by the army of dazzling figurines in her garden made up of snowmen, toy soldiers and dozens of angels that she placed in honor of her mother who died in 1986. It is located at 1152 84th Street.
Polizzoto Family Home
On the same street but at number 1145 is the home of the Polizzoto family, which stands out for its giant Santa Claus at the entrance of the house, the spectacular merry-go-round in the garden and toy soldiers of almost 9 meters high.
James Bonavito's house
The Christmas decoration of his house is considered the most elegant in Dyker Heights and James Bonavito knows a lot about it since he is the owner of the Christmas decorations company B&R. Gold, white, green and red lights decorate the facade and the garden along with life-size figures.
House of Sam the Greek
This is a three-story home located at 71st St. & 14th Avenue that is decorated from top to bottom with 260,000 lights and no detail is missing. Sam himself turns them on when Christmas arrives.
Blue Christmas House
The outdoor decorations are all blue. Inside, half of the house is decorated for Christmas and the other half for Hanukkah as the family that lives there is half Christian - half Jewish.
When do the lights go on in Dyker Heights?
There is no exact date for the Dyker Heights Christmas lights switch-on although some locals do it on Thanksgiving weekend. However, the best way to make sure all the decorations are on is from mid-December through Christmas Day. Several neighbors even leave them up past New Year's Eve.
What is the best time to visit the neighborhood?
In December the sun goes down around 4:30 PM in New York. I advise you to go to Dyker Heights a little before it gets dark so you can attend the lights switch on but if you can't, don't go too late because at 9 PM many houses turn off the lights.
When most Christmas decorations are on is during the weekend but it is also when there are more visitors in the neighborhood and some houses get crowded.
Dyker Heights holiday lights fun facts
When did the tradition of Christmas lights in Dyker Heights begin?
It all started in the 1980s, when neighbor Lucy Sparta decided to decorate her home with Christmas decorations in honor of her deceased mother. Gradually, other neighbors joined her initiative until today it has become an annual event and an undeclared neighborhood competition for the best-decorated house at Christmas. In fact, some families even pay professional decorators to create a personalized and different design for them.
This tradition attracts thousands of people to the Dyker Heights neighborhood every year and is so popular that guided tours have emerged to get to know even the smallest details of the neighborhood.
Where do neighbors store the ornaments for the rest of the year?
Many neighbors store ornaments in their own homes, either in storage rooms or garages. The size of these homes is quite large so with a little organization it is not surprising that they have a specific space to store them.
Other residents store them with decorating companies because they are the ones who provide the lights and decorations when families hire their services.
How much do decorations cost?
It depends on the decorations and the size of the house, but we are talking about figures ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 between electricity bills and the services of specialized decorating companies. A lot of money!
Other tours to see the Christmas lights in New York City
If you are a lover of this season and you love to see the Christmas lights, you have chosen the best city to soak up the Christmas spirit that completely bathes the streets of New York. Here are some of the best tours to see the Christmas lights apart from Dyker Heights, so you can book the one you like the most:
- Manhattan Christmas lights and movie locations tour - From $ 59
- New York City Christmas window shopping tour - From $ 44.
- Christmas lights tour by limousine - From $ 624.
- Christmas lightstour by horse-drawn carriage - from € $ 117
What else to do in New York at Christmas?
Christmas is one of the most magical times to experience in New York. The city is filled with Christmas trees, lights, carolers, decorated avenues and stores... Without a doubt, it is the time to travel to the city because it is beautiful and there is so much to see. As Andy Williams said in his popular song: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
In the heart of Midtown Manhattan do not miss the Rockefeller Center at Christmas, where you can contemplate its historic tree and skate on its ice skating rink. And if you want to continue exploring the city beyond Manhattan, the Christmas lights at the Bronx Zoo will leave you speechless.
And while you're in Brooklyn I recommend you to visit the neighborhood (if possible, get to know it in the daylight, before reaching Dyker Heights to enjoy its markets, its architecture, its parks ...). If you are up for it, here is a guide I have prepared on what to see and what to do in Brooklyn or what to see and what to do in Williamsburg, the Jewish neighborhood of New York.