Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

During a time wherein many things are famous that don’t seem to warrant all of the attention, it’s refreshing to have found an attraction worth all of the buzz it gets: the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. I drove out to see the lights on Christmas Eve in this southwestern Brooklyn community with my husband unsure of what to expect.

Driving around and taking in the best of the local Christmas lights on Christmas Eve was a tradition in my family growing up. My sister and I would dress up in our favorite velvet dresses, the kind that usually had lace and pearl necklines, and we’d brush our hair and do our best to look worthy of the mound of presents we’d receive the very next morning. We’d pile into the family car with my brother and parents and make our way to church for the Christmas Eve service. Our little hands that cupped the hot chocolate we’d drink after the service were usually red from candle-wax burns. We were blushing and excited, at least according to my memory, and then we’d race to the car, careful not to slip on the icy pavement, and my father would drive us all around town looking at the beautiful Christmas lights.

%Gallery-174271%Even as I got older, some of the lights would manage to dazzle me. The immense effort some people take in putting together spectacular Christmas light shows would amaze me, even as a surly teenager who refused to wear or own a fancy velvet dress. The quiet of Christmas Eve can be magical, even long after you’ve stopped believing in Santa. And those twinkling lights capture enough of that magic to make even the most stereotypically seasoned and jaded New Yorkers flock to Dyker Heights each December to see the lights.

We nosed around the neighborhood looking for the 13th avenue and the 80s streets after having been told that’s where the best of the best lights would be. We parked and walked around in awe and we were in plenty of good, excited company. Parents propped their children up on their shoulders for a better view. Adults posed for photos in front of an elaborate collection of moving, singing carolers perched atop a front yard fence.

I’m not crazy about a lot of facets of Christmas, but the lights are fun, no matter which way I look at it. I’ll admit, however, that I was just as impressed with some of the Dyker Heights houses as I was the lights. Nothing quite accents ornate Christmas decorations like your dream Brooklyn house.

If you haven’t seen the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights yet, some may still be up! If not, pencil the trip in for next year. It’s worth it.

Undiscovered New York: Christmas display spectacle in Dyker Heights

Welcome to this week’s edition of Undiscovered New York. The holidays are nearly upon us here in New York, and like much of the rest of the country, the city is in full-on holiday mode. The giant tree is lit in Rockefeller Center, the holiday gift merchants are out in Union Square, and the 50 foot tall animatronic Santas, synchronized light shows and guerilla armies of toy soldiers are waiting out in the Dyker Heights.

Few places on earth can match the pure Christmas zeal of Dyker Heights, a residential neighborhood located in the southwestern Brooklyn. Each year this largely Italian-American community competes to win bragging rights for the title of biggest and best Christmas display. Residents will stop at just about nothing to prove their decorating prowess. Displays include everything from neon-lit manger displays to giant Santas plus enough decorative Christmas lights per square inch power a small country.

The displays are so huge that Dyker Heights has created a mini-cottage tourist industry during the holiday season. Each December as many as 100,000 visitors make the trek to this far flung neighborhood to check out the lights and have their pictures taken among the outlandish and festive decorations.

Are you Christmas crazy? Will you be visiting New York this holiday season? Why not make the trek out to Brooklyn for one of New York’s most unique Christmas spectacles? Click below to learn how to get there and see some video footage from a special Dyker Heights holiday visit by none other than Conan O’Brien.
Where do I find the displays?
The epicenter of the Dyker Heights spectacle is 84th Street, with many of the houses enclosed in the blocks between 80th and 86th Streets and 10th to 13th Avenues putting up some kind of display. Here’s a map to help you get your bearings. Though the most convenient way to get to Dyker Heights is by driving, enterprising visitors can also take the R Train to 86th Street in Brooklyn. Just look for the giant Christmas toddler and polar bear display and you’ll know you’ve made it.

Is it really worth checking out?
Check out this segment from Conan O’Brien if you need any further motivation to go check out the Dyker Heights Christmas spectacle: