Ever heard of the Dyker Heights Christmas lights in Brooklyn? Maybe not, but you have heard or know by now that New York City is one of the best holiday destinations in the world from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. There’s no shortage of festive displays, activities, and things to do in NYC at Christmas and the winter holidays in NYC!
As a matter of fact, we have an entire guide dedicated to Brooklyn in winter!
One of the best local spots that are catching on with popularity over the years are the famous Dyker Heights holiday lights in Brooklyn! This residential neighborhood takes Christmas pageantry to a whole new level, just like something you’d see in one of your favorite holiday movie classics!
Each year, since one resident started the tradition over 30 years ago, the giant, beautiful homes of Dyker Heights deck out their homes with over-the-top Christmas and holiday displays in an unspoken, friendly competition bringing holiday cheer to everyone who visits NYC in December.
The Dyker Heights holiday light displays attract around 100,000 visitors a year and while that seems like alot, many people are discouraged to visit because of how far away this Brooklyn neighborhood is from the other famous Manhattan holiday attractions like the best Christmas window displays in NYC department stores to all the other fun festivities that make this city so special during the season.
That’s where this guide comes in handy because we will cover everything you need to know about visiting and creating your own DIY Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tour, or if you rather have someone show you we have that option at the end of this guide as well!
Seeing the Dyker Heights lights is easily one of the best things to do in Brooklyn in the winter! So grab your winter gear and plan your visit to this seasonal attraction, especially on top of running around to see all the best Christmas lights in NYC and the best Christmas trees in NYC!
Dyker Heights Holiday Lights Guide
History of the Dyker Heights Holiday Lights
The beginning of the decked out to the max Dyker Heights holiday lights tradition started back when Lucy Spata moved to the neighborhood in the 1980s. She wanted to remember her mother’s holiday tradition of decking out the house by being as festive as possible!
(Although, some of this history is contentious as some argue homes started doing this before…however, many online sources say that this is when many homes started decorating thus starting the tradition.)
The Spata House is one of the main attractions and must-see houses when touring the Dyker Heights Christmas lights at 1152 84th Street. Each year since the 1980s this house is one of the most decorated and the angels in the front of the house and yard are to commemorate her mother’s tradition she brought with her here.
It is said at first the neighborhood and neighbors weren’t huge fans of the first Dyker Heights lights at Lucy Spata’s house but eventually that would change and it would become an unofficial annual decorating contest between the neighbors, just like in some of those classic holiday movies we all rewatch every winter.
Word got around, and now over 100,000 people gather to come see the millions of Dyker Heights Christmas lights every year!
Some homes in the neighborhood even hire professional Christmas light decorators to help them install their displays, when you walk around you’ll even see signs advertising these services! Some of the homes lavish decoration set ups are rumored to cost around $20,000! Look what Lucy Spata started!
When to See Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
The Dyker Heights Christmas lights are on display starting the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, which is always the third Thursday of November through New Year’s Eve. The lights are visible every day of the week starting at around dusk when the neighborhood turns on their lights until around 10 pm.
If you come after NYE, you may still see a few homes that still have their displays up! However, the best window to see them all is Thanksgiving through NYE.
Some of the homes don’t always have their Dyker Heights Christmas lights on display right away, so some argue that the best time to go to see the most homes decked out with holiday cheer is after the first week of December up until Christmas.
Something important to consider though is mid-December through New Years is the busiest time to enjoy the Dyker Heights Christmas lights, so if you’re okay only seeing some of the Dyker Heights lights, it can be a more enjoyable experience if you want to see all the decorations and brightly lit homes without as many people. This is also a great time if you’re hoping to get photos without people in them.
How to Get to the Dyker Heights Holiday Lights
Many people wonder how the best way to get to the Dyker Heights lights is as it’s a bit further than the normal holiday festivities sightseeing route in the rest of the city like all the famous stops in Midtown. You can expect to prepare to spend around 60 minutes commuting from Manhattan to Dyker Heights, being conservative depending on the route you take and less from other spots in Brooklyn depending on your starting location.
The quickest option to the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights is usually always the subway.
There are two main subway stops we recommend taking to get to the Dyker Heights holiday lights, 86th Street Station (R train) or 79 Street Station (D train). Both of these options will require a 10-15 minute walk.
Both of these stations will most likely require you to pass or transfer to the D or R subway line at Atlantic Avenue Barclay’s Center Station in Downtown Brooklyn. From this point in your journey, you have around a 20-minute ride on the subway until you reach the nearest subway stops in Dyker Heights before needing to walk an extra 15-20 minutes.
Getting a MetroCard at the Subway
You do not need a MetroCard to use the subway anymore, if your credit card has a tap payment feature you can simply tap your credit card to pay to get in.
However, if you already have a MetroCard or prefer to use the MetroCard you can use our information below.
If you are new to NYC public transport and do not have a MetroCard you simply need to go into the station and use a credit card at the kiosk to buy a MetroCard. Nowadays you can just tap your credit card and skip buying a MetroCard all together if you prefer.
When you get to a kiosk to buy a MetroCard you have two options, to buy a MetroCard with a preloaded amount of money to spend for example $20 worth of rides that you can add value you to when you run out OR you can buy an unlimited MetroCard for x amount of days where you can ride multiple times a day.
A single ride is $2.90, and don’t forget that when you transfer between the bus and subway it’s no additional cost.
This is a great option for getting to the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights if you aren’t comfortable navigating the subway. Depending on your starting point, taking a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft or a taxi can vary from 40-60 minutes from different locations in Manhattan and anywhere from 20-40 minutes from various points in Brooklyn.
When you are trying to leave the Dyker Heights lights you will have trouble finding a taxi, if this is what you want to take to and from, you will most likely need to order an Uber or Lyft ride to return.
Since the streets with the Christmas lights are going to be packed, it’s easiest to walk a block or two away to call your rideshare!
Another option for getting to the Dyker Heights holiday lights is driving if you have your own car. If you’re not used to driving in the city, expect traffic and delays.
The only downside to driving your own car is that it’s very difficult to find parking and almost impossible to drive up and down the streets where all the Dyker Heights Christmas lights are as people are in the streets oohing and ahhing at the lights.
Unless completely necessary, we wouldn’t advise taking your own car just because the parking is hard to find and it could dampen your experience.
Some people prefer to see the lights from their car, if you do this, plan to be sitting bumper to bumper at the most popular spots, especially between 11th & 12th Avenues. You will want to do this part by foot!
We have never done this way as we live in the city without a car, however, one helpful commenter noted that the best parking is between 79th – 86th streets.
Where are the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights?
The best streets for viewing the Dyker Heights lights and creating your own DIY Dyker Heights lights tour is on 83rd Street and 84th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues. These are where you can find the main homes, however, there are plenty of other streets nearby where you can find more Dyker Heights holiday light displays that we will cover next.
Between 83rd Street and 84th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues you can find four of the most popular Dyker Heights Christmas light displays including the original, the Lucy Spata House at 1152 84th Street.
Next, there’s the Polizzotto Home at 1145 84th Street where you can’t miss the giant 15 ft Santa Claus and large display of moving animatronic decorations! This home also claims to be the original or first to start the Dyker Heights Christmas light decorating too just steps away from the Lucy Spata house.
(SADLY AS OF 2020, THE POLIZZOTTO HOME IS FOR SALE AND THERE IS NO DYKER HEIGHTS HOLIDAY LIGHTS ON DISPLAY)
The Community Mayor’s Home at 8312 12th Avenue is another notable place to see the Dyker Heights lights displays. This one is really fun for the kids because this is where you can find tons of blow-up Christmas characters in the yard from Rudolph to Cars and other random blow-up holiday decorations.
Another notable stop on your DIY Dyker Heights Christmas lights tour is the Forest of Lights at 1134 83rd Street. This fun stop is literally what it sounds like, a forest of lights! This home on the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights trail has a good amount of trees and they decorate them from the ground to the top with colorful lights making them a forest of lights!
Another one of our favorite homes is 1023 83rd Street, this home belongs to the family of. Frank Mangano and they have a magical, over the top display that is one of our top picks and must-see sights at the Dyker Heights holiday light display! They also have an Instagram account you can follow for behind the scenes @1023XMAS.
Pay attention to other details at the house, if you’ve got a keen eye you might even spot a Santa surprise in the window! This is also one of the many homes that has a charity you can donate extra change to if you’re in the Christmas spirit and are able to help a great cause.
Most Popular Dyker Heights Lights:
- Lucy Spata House (1152 84th Street) – The original house to start the Dyker Heights lights tradition
- Polizzotto Home (1145 84th Street) – Also known as Toyland, this family also claims that they started the Dyker Heights holiday lights tradition and is famous for the 15ft Santa that is the largest Santa in NYC. (SADLY AS OF 2020, THE POLIZZOTTO HOME WAS FOR SALE AND THERE ARE NO DYKER HEIGHTS HOLIDAY LIGHTS ON DISPLAY)
- Community Mayor’s Home (8312 12th Avenue) – Famous for their large collection of blow-up holiday characters.
- Forest of Lights (1134 83rd Street) – Trees decked out with lights making an actual forest of lights!
- Frank Mangano House (1023 83rd Street) – Decked out home with Believe and Joy signs and tons of lights!
More notable spots for lights and our personal favorites include:
- House on the corner of 10th Ave & 84th Street, peek up on the side of the house for a Santa surprise in the window!
So now that you have the most popular Dyker Heights lights locations, you can see on a map quickly they are all right next to eachother. Don’t stop now though, there are so many more lights to look at if you’re up for it!
There are a few sections of Dyker Heights holiday lights to see. See the streets listed below:
- 84th Street between 7th Avenue & 13th Avenue (this is also where you will pass the Lucy Spata & Polizzotto Home*)
- 83rd Street between 7th Avenue & 12th Avenue (this is where you will see the Community Mayor’s Home & the Forest of Lights)
- 82nd Street between 10th Avenue & 13th Avenue (generally no lights between 11th & 12th Avenues)
- 81st Street between 7th Avenue & 13th Avenue (generally no lights between 11th & 12th Avenues)
- 80th Street between 10th Avenue & 11th Avenue
- 79th Street between 11th Avenue & 12th Avenue
- 12th Avenue between 77th Street & 76th Street
Tips for Visiting Dyker Heights Holiday Lights
Here are some essential tips for enjoying your DIY Dyker Heights lights tour or just visiting the area in general for holiday viewing!
You will be walking a lot, especially if you’re coming from the subway (remember there’s around a 15-minute walk to the Dyker Heights lights from the nearest subway stops and a 15-minute walk back).
If you plan on seeing all the homes that participate in the Dyker Heights Christmas lights decorating you could be walking alot of blocks, come prepared wearing comfortable shoes.
Speaking of, it can get really cold during the winter here in NYC, so you’re going to want to dress accordingly including footwear as mentioned earlier. If it’s snowing and cold, we recommend having comfortable, warm, and water-resistant snow or winter boots to keep your feet dry and cozy.
Don’t forget to layer up if it’s cold out too! Once you’re on the trail of all the Dyker Heights holiday lights there is nowhere to warm up! Dress for the weather so you can stand being outdoors for at least 60-90 minutes so you can leisurely enjoy all the festive homes without being uncomfortable.
We love getting hand warmers for those, especially cold winter days!
The best time to see the lights is after dusk, so in late November through early January that can be as early as 5:30. You have a few hours to come and see all the Dyker Heights lights as the homes typically start turning off their lights before bed around 10:00 pm and sometimes as late as 11:00 pm.
The weekends are typically more crowded and the closer to Christmas and New Years, the more crowded the Dyker Heights Christmas lights get. Also, the earlier you go around Thanksgiving the less lights will be on display, some decorators don’t get them up that early so keep that in mind if you’re hoping to see everything.
Some of the homes have a money drop or box for various charities using the visitation to see the lights at their homes as a chance to give back. If you’re wanting to participate, don’t forget to bring some extra cash or change.
If you want to walk around with a hot drink, Twist Coffee at 7824 13th Avenue closes either 7 or 8 PM (depending on the day) and has hot drinks! Or you can grab a thermos and bring your own hot cocoa or if you’re boozy like me, some mulled wine (if you’re not driving of course).
Near Twist Coffee is also the INCREDIBLE Italian Bakery, Tasty Pastry Shoppe at 8216 13th Avenue that sells gingerbread starter kids, holiday cookies, and classic Italian desserts! Stop in here for a sweet treat! This is one of our picks for best Brooklyn bakeries too! They stay open until 8 PM all days except Sundays when they close at 5 PM.
One commenter and local noted that Lioni’s Italian Heros is another great spot if you’re looking for a bite to eat from a local eatery! Just note they close around 7 PM and are more of a deli, take-out but they have insanely good sandwiches!
And for a great sit down restaurant and one of the best Christmas restaurants in NYC, make your way to Skinflint’s in Bay Ridge for a pre or post Dyker Heights Christmas lights meal!
Don’t forget to check out our entire guide for what to pack for Brooklyn to make sure you don’t forget anything on your visit!
Also, if you’ve already been to see the Dyker Heights Christmas lights you may want to go again because like snowflakes, each year its a little different and unique!
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Tours
If all of this information on how do your own DIY Dyker Heights Christmas lights tour is overwhelming and you prefer to have someone else show you around, then we recommend joining one of the Dyker Heights lights tours available!
This 1.5-hour Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tour starts at Mocha Mocha Coffee Shop just outside of the 86th Street Subway stop and requires you to get to Dyker Heights on your own. This Dyker Heights lights tour includes a knowledgeable guide who will take you to see the most impressive homes and the history behind this holiday tradition. Book your tickets here.
This 3.5-hour Dyker Heights Lights tour includes transportation from Manhattan and is the perfect addition to all the holiday sightseeing in the city! Your driver will pick you up from Midtown and drop you off with your guide in Dyker Heights where you will check out all the festivities. Before you finish, this Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tour has a bonus stop at the Brooklyn Bridge so you can get a photo of the city skyline twinkling at night before ending your magical evening! Book your tickets here.
What’s even more fun is that the Dyker Heights Christmas lights also make an appearance in movies and television! Get inspired and check out these best Christmas movies set in NYC to get you in the holiday spirit before or after your visit!
You have got to love the holiday season in the city! If you’re looking for the perfect gifts for any NYC or Brooklyn lovers be sure to check out our guides to the best New York City ornaments for gifting, the best New York City souvenirs & gifts, and the best Brooklyn gifts!
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