Dear New York visitor, have you ever heard of Dyker Heights? If you’re a fan of everything Christmas, mark this place as the epicenter of holiday decoration on your map.
Dyker Heights is a neighborhood in the southwestern part of Brooklyn. Usually this wouldn’t turn heads – considering the 30 minute subway ride from Manhattan – if it wasn’t for the thousands of Christmas lights the area is now famous for. According to newspaper reports, the first excessive decoration attracted the first visitors sometime in the 1980s. Today tourists from all over the world embark on the journey to Southwestern Brooklyn to gaze at the spectacular installations.
The lights and decorations are either set up by the house owners or professional decorators, who turn entire blocks into illuminated toy towns. While some themes recur each year, many decorations are constantly overhauled – which seems to happen in an effort to “outdo” each other, judging from the degree of decoration.
Now, how to get to Dyker Heights? If you’re not familiar with the area and look for an easy way to explore the festive streets, consider the Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour, which unfortunately comes with a $55 price tag which is quite expensive if you’re traveling on a budget. But you might as well find your way around by public transportation. The nearest subways are the D and M trains to 18th Avenue (Brooklyn). Walk down 86th Street for about 15 minutes and turn right on 13th Avenue. The most festive houses can be found between 11th and 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street. Some of the main attractions are located on 84th street, with a giant Santa sitting among moving nutcrackers and the neighboring toy land.
If you’re traveling on a flexible schedule, try visiting on the weekends – the displays and light effects are said to be better than on weeknights. The most intense lightning takes places between 5-9pm. While some homeowners opt for entertaining dance and music presentations to accompany the festive installations, some families collect money for charities outside their homes.
A visit to Dyker Heights will certainly put you in the mood for Christmas in a heartbeat. Strolling through the neighborhood feels like wandering around in a little toy town – musings about the electricity bills aside – you can’t but be amazed. Even though the impressions are slightly overwhelming, it is just fun to immerse yourself in this excessive holiday spirit. Merry Christmas from New York!
All photos by Cordula Schaefer.
Cordula Schaefer is a photography enthusiast who loves to venture out to explore new places and hardly ever leaves the house without a camera. A New Yorker at heart, she is especially fond of city trips and has a soft spot for beautiful beachscapes. She currently bases herself in Berlin and keeps the visual documents of her travels at Cordugram.