Dyker Heights Christmas lights tour
The holiday lights are an international attraction deep in Brooklyn. You have options!
My walking-only tours (but not vehicle tours) require at least 2.5 miles of walking.
I don't drive people to Dyker. (You can take public transit, or taxis. Beware of traffic!)
If you hire a vehicle for the night, it costs more, but is more convenient. You still must walk.
Click here for some images from a 2023 visit. I am typically available Christmas Eve and Christmas night.
The Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights is internationally famed for its Christmas lights: dazzling, over-the-top arrays and even animated figures that represent the holiday season. In 2015, Redfin called Dyker Heights the country's best neighborhood to see holiday lights. In 2016, Oyster.com did the same. The popularity has led to significant crowds, streets clogged for vehicles and pedestrians, and even some backlash (so we should be respectful visitors).
The lights are a home-grown phenomenon rather, say, a municipal or corporate effort. Proud neighbors, in friendly competition, have escalated the shows, sometimes spending significant sums for the displays.
On our tour, I'll take you on the best blocks and explain how it started. Sometimes we run into the proud homeowners. I can also show you other neighborhood highlights (pastry shops, etc..).
Please note: several companies offer daily large-group bus tours. This is the easiest ways to get to the heart of Dyker, since they pick you up in Manhattan and drive you back. This may be cheaper if you are 2-3 people, but you don't see as much and also can hit significant traffic.
I can offer more personalized service and a more extensive route, on walking tours. So we can see a presepio, a labor of love by a local artisan, that is a traditional Italian village scene, built in what looks like a giant terrarium.
The season: when to go
The holiday lights generally go up beginning after Thanksgiving--I make no guarantees about progress, because it's up to the individual homeowner, plus (in many cases) the schedule of the company installing the lights.
Visits typically begin by late November/early December, though some lights aren't up until after December 8. (That's the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, and some people wait until then to put up decorations.)
It's much quieter in the early part of the season, so the trade-off can be worth it. Weekends can be very busy, especially as Christmas approaches. Most lights remain up through New Year's Day.
Lights generally lit up dusk (or on a timer to start at 5 or 5:15) through at least 9-10 pm. Depending on the size of the group, the scope of the tour, and the choice of transportation (foot or vehicle), we generally need 75 to 90 minutes in Dyker. My fee is up to two hours.
Dyker Heights is in the southwest part of Brooklyn. From Midtown Manhattan, Dyker Heights is about 50-60 minutes by public transit and 35-75 minutes by vehicle, depending on traffic. Beware rush hour.
It's a fairly long trip by vehicle or subway from Downtown Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan. I recommend combining the visit with other stops in Brooklyn, perhaps starting in daylight, then getting to Dyker Heights after dark. See examples at right.
A smaller group can be more nimble and see more of the neighborhood, including the main shopping street, Dyker Heights Boulevard, which has several bakeries. I also can recommend restaurants for dinner before or after the tour, nearby or a short ride away in Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge.
Please note: you can't see the lights solely as a driving tour. The streets are just too crowded. You have to either park (a good deal away) or have a taxi/vehicle that lets you out periodically. Either way, that requires 20-40+ minutes of walking.
PLEASE NOTE: Click the minus sign (−) on the map to see that Dyker Heights is quite far from other parts of Brooklyn, and farther from Manhattan.
Tours by vehicle
I no longer lead large-group bus tours. But I can work with moderate-sized groups, whether with a vehicle (like a van/limo/party bus) or arriving by taxi or via public transit.
A vehicle costs typically $70-$150/hour, depending on size, but is faster and protects against weather. I cannot book a vehicle for you but can suggest some companies to try. (Also, you can book Uber with an hourly rate.) This can be more unwieldy than simply buying a ticket from a company offering a package deal, but it should cost less. Please anticipate significant traffic if you drive to Dyker in rush hour.
With a vehicle, we can extend the tour of lights to locations in Bay Ridge, which has some great blocks with lights, few crowds, and some lovely architecture. (We can also get to Bay Ridge by public transit and walking, if you have the energy.) Here are some 2023 photos of a few Bay Ridge blocks.
Taking public transit to Dyker is inexpensive but doable, as long as you can walk, as the main attractions are not near the subway. But walking will give you more of a feel for the overall neighborhood, avoid crowds for a period of time--plus it's easy to stop for food or snacks or a bathroom. After the tour, a public bus will be available--or it's a reasonable walk to the subway in Bay Ridge.
We also can mix and match public transit and taxis. In other words, you could also take a taxi/Uber/Lyft to meet me in Dyker. But it won't be cheap.
Option 1: Start the tour elsewhere
I can meet you at your hotel/starting place. Or we can meet in DUMBO, the first stop in Brooklyn, with great views of Lower Manhattan. It's also possible to visit row-house neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene, or Orthodox Jewish Borough Park, and/or Chinese/Latino Sunset Park along the way.
Option 2: Meet in Dyker Heights
If you're coming by subway, or by taxi--or if you're hiring a vehicle for the night--I can also meet you in Dyker Heights. Figure 1.5-2 hours in Dyker. If you come by subway, the route requires at least 2.5 miles of walking. Afterward, it requires a bus--or another .7 miles of walking--to the nearest subway.
Dyker Heights Tour Fees
For Dyker Heights, whether you're coming by vehicle or public transit, my fee for up to 2 hours is $200 for 2 people, plus $20 for each additional person.
If you'd like to start elsewhere, such as at your hotel or in DUMBO, please contact me for a quote. Additional time beyond 2 hours would start at $60/hour, depending on size of group.
Your options include (in order of increasing overall cost):
Please note: Dyker Heights is a residential neighborhood, which means it's not optimized for tourism. That's a charm, and a challenge.
So smaller groups are more nimble, and we must be strategic about stops for a bathroom and/or for snacks. There are also more options after the tour, on the way to Bay Ridge or in Bay Ridge proper. The subway leaves from Bay Ridge.
Please note: if you have a timed appointment after the tour, like a dinner reservation in a neighborhood that is not adjacent Bay Ridge, please recognize that traffic can be complicated and timing can't be guaranteed.