When you think NYC during the holidays, you probably have visions of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, store windows up and down 5th Avenue, and visits to see the Macy’s Santa Claus. These iconic things are all well and good…but today, we’re going to let you in on a little secret of how REAL New Yorkers like to celebrate the holidays. And to do that, you must jump on your favorite form of transportation (subway, bus, bike, cab, your own two feet, or a fleet of reindeer…!) and head to none other than Dyker Heights, Brooklyn!
Every December, Dyker Heights transforms itself into “Dyker Lights”, attracting over 100,000 people to the otherwise quiet neighborhood to see the over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. If you’re a transplant New Yorker, and come from a small town somewhere down south or in middle America, you’ll recognize the decorations immediately as displays you would see from your suburban cul-de-sac, where the motto was always something along the lines of “the bigger, the brighter, the better!”
The residents in Dyker Heights have the added benefit over the rest of Manhattan residents of having yards and actual houses to decorate, and since the Dyker Lights tradition started in the 1980’s, they make sure to make it worth your trip out there! Now, if you want to attempt the tour on your own, just know that the subway will take you a little over an hour from Times Square to arrive at the D/M stop at 18th Avenue in Brooklyn. Once off the train, you’ll have about a 20 minute walk to where the lights are, 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street.
If that sounds like a little bit too much work for you, we 100% recommend jumping on a bus tour with A Slice of Brooklyn. We caught their heated, comfy bus in Union Square and learned about the history of the neighborhood’s Christmas lights, watched vintage holiday movie clips, and hummed along to carols all the way to Brooklyn. Once there, you hop on and off the bus at the best spots, with plenty of time to take pictures, grab hot chocolate, and marvel at the suburbia you never knew existed within New York City. The tour lasts 3.5 hours and departs nightly through December (except for Christmas day.) Adult tickets are $50, children under 12 are $40. Personally, I think it’s totally worth doing the tour from the comfort of a bus, as an Uber there one way alone would be the same price. #TreatYoSelf, right?!
A huge thanks to A Slice of Brooklyn for the opportunity to join the tour–it’s been on my holiday bucket list for over a decade, and I’m thrilled I finally experienced it first hand! Do you have anything special on your holiday bucket list this year? Share below!