Lucy Spata house at christmas in dyker heights in brooklyn
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20 BEST Places for Christmas Lights in NYC (DIY NYC Christmas Lights Tour + Map)

Looking for the best Christmas lights in NYC? You’ve come to the right place! I love the holidays in New York City. In fact, I make it a point not to travel at all this time of year so I can be a tourist at home and enjoy all the holiday magic this time of year brings.

New York City is just like the movies portray it during Christmas. From the window displays, holiday decor including Christmas trees all over the city, celebrations for winter holidays like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah in the mix, ice skating, holiday markets, and everything that just makes this time of year feel so special.

This is the one time of year that locals like myself join the visitors to the city in all the touristy and holiday fun festivities that happen! I do like touristy things off-season too, but I feel like those locals who detest the touristy crowds make an exception this time of year (except for those who are a little more Grinch-like!).

I have put together this guide to Christmas lights in NYC to help you plan your visit to the city during the most magical time of year! No other place in the world compares to the lights, displays, and festivities around the winter holiday season during December in NYC.

Oh, I have a great NYC Christmas itinerary too if you’re looking for a little more help planning an unforgettable time in the city during the holidays (that’s been tested by a local).

Many of these spots are near each other and easy to see in the same day, there are a few, however, like the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights and LuminoCity Festival that we recommend scheduling extra time in your visit/itinerary to fit into your visit because they are worth seeing and not on the main Manhattan New York Christmas Lights circuit!

Oh, and we’ve included a handy map at the end of the guide!

Also, don’t miss our winter in Brooklyn guide and best things to do in NYC in winter for more fun ideas to enjoy! And if you want to get ready for all the holiday fun in the city, check out the best Christmas movies set in New York City too!

New York Christmas Lights To Check Out!

Hudson Yards


An absolute must-see on your DIY NYC Christmas lights tour is Hudson Yards! The holiday light display boasts over 2 million Christmas lights, as well as giant, glowing hot air balloons, making the entire complex shimmer, glimmer, and sparkle. I personally love how whimsical the hot air balloons are!

Visit the shops at Hudson Yards to get some holiday shopping done. If you want an unbeatable view of the Hudson Yards light display, visit the Vessel or The Edge Skydeck observation for sweeping views of the city, as well as the best seat in town for seeing the Hudson Yards Christmas lights.

Or, if you’d rather enjoy the twinkling lights from the ground, just saunter around the outdoor areas of Hudson Yards to take in the magnificently festive views! Don’t forget to check out the displays in the mall too, which is a great place to warm up if it’s cold or take a bathroom break.

This is also one of my all-time favorite places to take Christmas photos in New York City too!

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in Manhattan NYC

Possibly the most iconic display of Christmas lights in NYC is at Rockefeller Center! The world-famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree has been a New York tradition since 1933 and is lit each year on the Wednesday following Thanksgiving in NYC.

The towering tree, some years upwards of 100 ft tall, sparkles with over 50,000 multi-colored Christmas lights and a stunning topper covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals! Each year the selection of the Rockefeller Christmas tree is also a big deal.

A great way to see the lights at Rockefeller Center is to go ice skating! The breathtaking tree overlooks The Rink at Rockefeller Center, making for a glittering ice skating session!

If you’d rather catch a view of the tree off the ice, wander around the plaza and see the festive windows of the shops at Rockefeller Center. From the fun, glittering displays in Kate Spade New York’s and Tiffany & Co.’s windows, to the festive and heartwarming scenes from the FAO Schwarz Rockefeller store, window shopping is a beloved New York City pastime – especially around the holidays!

While you’re in the area, also check out Radio City Music Hall’s iconic neon lights, the nearby larger-than-life Christmas bulbs, and maybe even snag tickets to the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular!

Rockefeller Center is an absolute must-see on your DIY NYC Christmas lights tour! And if you want to do something extra special, reserve a wintery igloo from the City Winery at Rockefeller Center for one of the most magical Christmas bars in NYC with a view of the tree!

Department Stores Window Displays

NYC Christmas department store window displays from 2019

New York City is known for its giant department stores and luxury brand storefronts, many of which have their flagship location right here. During the holiday season, these legendary stores and shops show out with elaborate window displays and Christmas lights.

What could be better on a chilly winter night than strolling through the streets of NYC, window shopping, and enjoying the festive sights of the city?

Your NYC Christmas Lights tour can take you down Fifth Avenue, past high-end stores with gorgeous and historic facades, decorated for the holidays.

Notably, the Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, and Cartier stores on Fifth Avenue extravagantly deck out their windows and storefronts each holiday season and while you’re down here don’t miss the lavish window displays at Bergdorf Goodman!

Bergdorf Goodman hands down has my favorite displays year after year. In my opinion, no others compare (although, they are all fantastic in their own way). Oh, and Bergdorf Goodman has the best NYC Christmas ornaments too!

Don’t worry, we have an entire guide to the best holiday window displays in NYC so you can hit them all up on your visit!

Make it a “Miracle on 34th Street” by visiting the Macy’s at Herald Square and checking out their amazing window displays! Or stop by Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship store, or Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue, and see their bright and stunning window displays!

Mosey down Fifth Avenue long enough and you’ll arrive at Rockefeller Center, where you can check out the decorated windows of the shops at Rockefeller Center!

Once you’ve seen all the lights down Fifth Avenue, hop over to Park Avenue to see hundreds of fir trees illuminated in holiday style between 54th and 97th Streets!

This is one of my favorite things to do on Christmas Day in NYC too. There’s something so magical about walking and looking at the windows on the holiday!

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show!

watching the Saks Fifth Avenue light show at Christmas in NYC
watching the Saks Fifth Avenue light show

Some of the best Christmas lights in NYC are on the outside of Saks Fifth Avenue, which is worth mentioning on its own as they have their very own holiday light show that can’t be missed!

This iconic 10-story-tall light show is as dazzling and fabulous as the goodies inside the store. The Saks holiday light show is set to festive music and happens each night, every 10 minutes from 4:35 pm until 11:35 pm!

Each year the show changes and is synched to holiday music. It’s a show stopper and one of my personal favorite places to see Christmas lights in New York!

Better yet, this is so easy to tie into visiting Rockefeller Center as when you turn around from the Saks Fifth Avenue light show, you’re staring directly down the iconic view of the angels down the Channel Gardens with the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree framed up in the center!

Bryant Park Winter Village

Bryant Park Winter Village Christmas Tree in NYC

Visiting the Bryant Park Winter Village is like being transported to the North Pole! This Midtown destination is positively bursting with holiday cheer.

Besides the beautiful Christmas lights, you also get a stellar view of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building’s twinkling lights. You can grab a hot apple cider or boozy hot chocolate at one of the Winter Village’s amazing food and drink booths.

winter igloos at Bryant Park Winter Village in NYC

You can even reserve igloos to enjoy some good food and coziness with friends and family. Or, if you’d rather, get your cup of cheer to-go and check out the amazing holiday market, filled with booths of local businesses and artisans, where you can pick up some one-of-a-kind holiday presents!

Besides the overall feeling of joy that comes from the charming Winter Village, it is also home to some of the best Christmas lights in NYC. See the twinkling lights and the gorgeous Christmas tree while enjoying the chill and thrill of ice skating at The Rink at Bryant Park, which is free if your bring your own skates! (otherwise, it’s just the cost of the skate rental).

Brookfield Place

Megan looking at Christmas lights at Brookfield Place in Manhattan NYCOne of the most mesmerizing places to see Christmas lights in New York City is inside the mall at Brookfield Place. Located in Battery Park City, Brookfield Place is a luxury shopping mall located near the Oculus shopping mall. During the holiday season, Brookfield Place transforms into a glowing paradise with its annual Luminaries installment!

Some of the most glorious and unique Christmas lights in NYC, Luminaries features 650 glowing lanterns, suspended from the ceiling of a 120-foot atrium in Brookfield Place. The lights in each lantern change color and intensity, creating a beautiful ballet of light and color.

Visit Luminaries each day during the holiday season from 8 am until 10 pm to see the lanterns’ light show. The shows happen at the top of every hour, and are accompanied by songs that are festive favorites!

Once you’ve gotten to see the magical show that the Luminaries puts on, you can head farther downtown to Battery Park, hitch a ride on a ferry, and see the best Christmas lights of all – the New York City skyline at night.

Holiday Pop-Up Bars


I am not going to lie. I think I like the fun Christmas bars in NYC a little too much. I go year after year to see which places change themes for their decor (and even for the places that do the same decor year after year, like Rolf’s I still go once a season).

For a night out full of festive fun, check out some of New York’s holiday pop-up bars – a great way to see some of the best Christmas lights in NYC and sip on some festive drinks!

A festive ambiance, twinkling Christmas lights, and holiday-themed cocktails make the Miracle an annual pop-ups that you won’t want to miss. They have pop-up locations all over the world, with a few right here in NYC. 

Perhaps one of the most famous destinations for seeing Christmas lights in NYC is Rolf’s German restaurant. An absolute winter wonderland decked out in true German style, Rolf’s at Christmastime is an Instagrammable dream! Grab a seasonal drink and enjoy the festivities at Rolf’s in Gramercy Park! 

Rolf’s holiday decor goes up as early as late September, and we highly recommend squeezing this in earlier in the season if you’re able to as you inch closer and closer to Christmas, the line gets longer and longer to get in. I went in around Halloween this year and there was all the holiday decor for myself and my husband to take in the winter and holiday magic a little early!

That may not be an option for some, so don’t worry. A few of the best over-the-top places for holiday lights in NYC are actually a few restaurants, check out Oscar Wilde, both Lillie’s Victorian Establishment locations and Papillion Bistro for floor-to-ceiling decor that changes out each holiday throughout the year (not just Christmas) and each year their Christmas decor is different! I don’t know how they do it!

And one of my personal favorites can be found at Roberta’s in Bushwick where they have a Grinchy’s pop up and it’s a little more naughty than nice! And you get to pair your visit with some of the best pizza in NYC!

New York Stock Exchange & WTC

christmas tree at the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan

Another one of the best spots for Christmas lights in New York City and another impressive Christmas Tree is at NYSE, or New York Stock Exchange, and the holiday decorations around the World Trade Center.

The New York Stock Exchange has a green and red projection of lights illuminating this iconic NYC building along with a giant, twinkling Christmas tree as well as Hannukah and Kwanza decorations.

Just a short walk from here, at the World Trade Center you can check out the holiday illuminations inside as well as the base of One World Trade Center has a holiday light show. Also, inside the Oculus mall has some subtle holiday decor! I love when they have red and green lights that illuminate the interior of the amazing architecture here!

Better yet, this is really close to Brookfield Place so you can see all three sites easily within a short walk.

Don’t miss the whimsical igloo dining on Stone Street either after you have done your holiday light sightseeing! Route 66 Restaurant serves up its American fare menu items to patrons in their outdoor igloo tents on one of the oldest streets in the city!

Holiday Under the Stars at Columbus Circle

Another one of the best places to see some beautiful Christmas lights in New York while checking loved ones off your holiday gift list is at the Time Warner Center Shops at Columbus Circle.

One dozen, 14-foot twinkling stars are suspended from the stunning 150-foot ceiling, and they put on a dazzling show along to some classic Christmas tunes every 30 minutes, from 4 pm until 7 pm during the holiday season!

The spectacular show can be seen from every floor of the Time Warner Center Shops at Columbus Circle, meaning you won’t even have to take a break from your Christmas shopping to see the show.

Once you’ve seen the lights and gotten some shopping done, you can hop over to Central Park for a winter stroll, or continue on your NYC Christmas lights tour to some of Midtown’s sparkling spots!

GLOW at the New York Botanical Garden

If you’ve seen all of the Manhattan Christmas classics and are looking for a fun addition to your NYC Christmas lights tour, head up to the Bronx and check out GLOW at the New York Botanical Garden!

This holiday installation has showings on select nights during the holiday season, with timed tickets available between 5 pm to 10 pm each night of the show. Visitors will see thousands of lights illuminate the already-stunning Botanical Garden, for a magical experience of light and color. Wander through the world of plants and light, and enjoy amazing ice sculptures, dancers, and musicians for an amazingly festive night.

If you aren’t able to visit during GLOW, you can still head to the New York Botanical Garden for their annual Holiday Train Show, which is one of the most popular things to do in NYC at Christmas! Enjoy some of the best Christmas lights in NYC, awesome model trains, impressive replicas of NYC landmarks, and the natural beauty of the Botanical Garden all in one!

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

Another one of the best places to see Christmas lights in NYC also happens to be in the Bronx! You can visit the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights during the holiday season to see depictions of creatures of land, sea, and sky, illuminated in dazzling and colorful lights!

This mystical world constructed of Christmas lights offers visitors the chance to embark on five different animal lantern safaris, as well as see ice carving demonstrations, enjoy festive treats like s’mores and hot cocoa, watch awesome wildlife shows, and interact with stilt walkers, and festive costumed characters!

The Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights is the perfect place to take the little ones to see some Christmas lights and learn about the amazing animals of earth at the same time!

The zoo is open seven days a week, and the light display can be seen on Sunday through Thursday from 5 pm until 9 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 5 pm until 10 pm. Timed tickets must be purchased to visit the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights, so plan ahead and take advantage of this amazing display of Christmas lights!

Also, this is after hours for the regular zoo, so if you want to see the animals plan a visit during the day and then be sure to snag a reservation for the holiday lights after hours! If you need a break in between both visits, consider heading to Arthur Avenue for some of the best Italian neighborhoods and cuisine the city offers to fuel up before seeing more of the best Christmas lights in New York City!

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 

Looking at the Lucy Spata House in Dyker Heights at Christmas in Brooklyn

MY FAVORITE! The residential lights in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn give the professional light displays of Midtown a run for their money!

Each year, Dyker Heights residents deck their halls to the max, supplying visitors with the ultimate DIY NYC Christmas lights tour. For over 30 years, inhabitants of Dyker Heights have created a winter wonderland, filling their yards with thousands of lights, decorations, and holiday cheer!

From the day after Thanksgiving, up until New Years Day, Dyker Heights is one of the best places to see Christmas lights in NYC!

Typically, the most elaborate displays sit between 83rd and 86th Streets, and between 11th and 13th Avenues in Brooklyn. For more in-depth information on the best way to see these gorgeous lights, read our full guide for everything you need to know to plan your visit to the Dyker Heights Christmas lights.

You can easily visit these famous New York City Christmas lights on your own using the subway (86th Street Station from the R train or 79 Street Station from the D train), you will have an estimated 15-minute walk to the neighborhood from the station. Or if you don’t feel up for that type of adventure, you can always join a Dyker Heights Christmas lights tour that departs from Midtown Manhattan by bus and includes a guided tour of the most extravagant light displays.

The Largest Menorah in Brooklyn

Brooklyns largest menorah at Grand Army Plaza during the holidays

No list of holiday lights in New York City would be complete without a stop to celebrate the Festival of Lights itself! Celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah with a trip to see the world’s largest menorah. 

Located in Grand Army Plaza on the edge of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the 32-foot menorah is a sight to see! With special musical performances, fun surprises for the kiddos, and hot and delicious latkes for all, visiting the menorah in Grand Army Plaza is the perfect way to celebrate Hanukkah and see some gorgeous lights!

Be sure to also check out our full guide to Hanukkah in NYC for more festivities happening around the city too.

Grand Army Plaza Christmas tree in Brooklyn

Don’t miss the Christmas tree at Grand Army Plaza either!!

LuminoCity Festival

If you’re feeling adventurous, let your DIY NYC Christmas lights tour take you up to Long Island, 45 minutes outside of the city. LuminoCity used to hold their event at Randall’s Island Park, but are now a bit more removed from the city.

They have an acres’-wide light art installation, the LuminoCity Festival! This immersive art installation features beautiful and artistic illuminated sculptures, for a unique and breathtaking experience. This magical landscape is bursting with colorful light, and is the perfect experience for the whole family.

You must purchase tickets in advance for the LuminoCity Festival, with the events running from 4 pm until 10 pm each night.

Truly one of the most spectacular and eccentric Christmas light displays in New York, the LuminoCity Festival is a must-see during the holiday season especially if you have a car.

Industry City

Industry City Winter holiday decorations in sunset park brooklynAnother one of the best places for Christmas lights in NYC and decor is in Sunset Park, Brooklyn at Industry City. This former industrial and warehouse complex gets decked out not only for the winter holidays but for every holiday!

Christmas decorations at Industry City

Be sure to come and check out their holiday displays, ice skating rink, artisanal shops, and amazing dining scene! I personally love it here, it’s a bit under the radar for tourists and in a spot in Brooklyn you don’t find alot of tourists but it’s worth the trek!

There are plenty of great places to check out from distilleries, sake tasting rooms, and breweries, and my favorite is Japan Village which has a Daiso store (IYKYK, it’s a fun Japanese dollar-type store), Japanese food court, restaurants, grocery store, and shops!

There are also several courtyards where you can find fun holiday decor and plenty of shops to explore.

The only thing to keep in mind is that Industry City has weird hours as it’s really focused on day workers in the area. So if you want to eat, take advantage of the more sit-down restaurants (check their hours, some are closed early in the week) and don’t rely on the main food court as they close at 6 PM. Japanese Village stays open a bit later and so do a few other great spots like Hometown Barbecue. 

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park Christmas Tree in NYC Greenwich Village Manhattan

Located in Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is not only one of the most popular and famous parks in NYC, but it has one of the most photogenic Christmas trees in New York City under the famous arch!

Each year on Christmas Eve, the holiday tradition is for carolers to sing under the tree. So if you happen to be here on December 24th, this is a fun activity you can enjoy too!

Radio City Music Hall


One of the most iconic stops on any DIY NYC Christmas lights tour is stopping at Radio City Music Hall along 6th Avenue, just a short walk from all the best department store window displays and the infamous Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

One of the best holiday traditions too is enjoying the live performance inside Radio City too! The famous Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes!

You can get tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on SeatGeek, and when you add our promo code BROOKLYNGUIDE to your SeatGeek account, you receive $20 off your first ticket purchase. (We receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

Avenue of the Americas: 6th Avenue

Giant Christmas ornaments on 6th avenue and radio city music hall at christmas in nyc

Directly across from Radio City Music Hall on the Avenue of the Americas, aka 6th Avenue are not to be missed NYC Christmas lights and decorations, the giant oversized candy cane forest, Christmas bulbs, and giant Christmas lights!

These are a really fun photo spots too! If you get in the right frame at the giant Christmas bulb ornaments you can get Radio City Music Hall in the backdrop! 

Also, nearby is the Fox News Christmas tree, which is one of the most beautiful Christmas trees in New York City to check out too.

Lotte New York Palace Tree

Lotte Palace New York Christmas Tree in NYC

One of the most elegant and beautiful Christmas Trees in New York City and a must on your NYC Christmas lights tour is the stunning tree at Lotte New York Palace.

This luxury hotel gets all decked out for Christmas and is one of the most popular Christmas trees in NYC for photographers and Instagrammers! With that being said, if you want to get the perfect photo here you may want to come early in the morning or during a weekday not so close to Christmas!

Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

lightscape at brooklyn botanic garden during winter

One of the best holiday light displays in NYC located in Brooklyn from late November (typically Thanksgiving week) through early January is Lightscape, where Brooklyn Botanic Garden transforms into a winter illuminary garden with over one million lights on display for their seasonal, after-dark spectacular.

Walkthrough the path to one light installation after another featuring different artists, poetry written in light, and synched to music in this mesmerizing experience.

You will want to secure your tickets in advance for your timed entry on Brooklyn Botanic’s website, see our full visitors guide to Brooklyn Botanic Garden too for more tips to plan your visit.

Places to see Christmas Lights in New York Map

When can you see Christmas lights in New York?

Christmas lights in New York City are typically visible from late November through early January, reaching their peak in December, with many iconic displays remaining illuminated during this festive holiday season.

Where are the best Christmas lights in NYC?

The best Christmas lights in NYC are found at Rockefeller Center, Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Fifth Avenue storefronts. These iconic displays capture the enchanting holiday spirit of New York City.

How long are Christmas lights up in NYC?

Christmas lights in NYC are typically up from late November to early January. The duration varies by location, with many displays remaining illuminated throughout December to celebrate the holiday season.

When is the Rockefeller tree lighting?

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony varies from year to year, but it happens on the first Wednesday after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Best New York Christmas Light Displays (Post Summary):

  • Hudson Yards
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Department Store Window Displays
  • Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show
  • Bryant Park Winter Village
  • Brookfield Place
  • Holiday Pop-Up Bars
  • New York Stock Exchange & World Trade Center
  • Holiday Under the Stars at Columbus Circle
  • GLOW at the New York Botanical Garden
  • Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights
  • Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
  • The Largest Menorah in Brooklyn
  • LuminoCity Festival
  • Industry City
  • Washington Square Park
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Avenue of the Americas/6th Avenue
  • Lotte New York Palace
  • Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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