15 Oct BROOKLYN HOLIDAY LIGHTS: DYKER HEIGHTS HISTORY AND TRADITION
This blog was originally published in 2015; it has since been updated to reflect the most accurate information.
If you’ve been a resident of the New York area for a while, you’ve likely heard of the Dyker Heights neighborhood and its residents’ huge holiday lights displays. But do you know the history and inspiration behind this nationwide holiday favorite?
The holidays mean many things to many people, from a time to gather with family and friends to shopping for gifts and creating memories for your kids.
The holiday season may be full of stresses, but it’s also a great opportunity to spend quality time with the people who mean the most to you.
A favorite activity of many families and friend groups is seeing holiday lights, and in NYC, you have an impressive range of options for magnificent holiday displays around the area. One of the best is the light displays in the Dyker Heights neighborhood.
Here’s the rundown on the Dyker Heights Lights.
DYKER LIGHTS: A NEIGHBORHOOD AFFAIR
Now known as the “Undisputed Capital of Christmas Pageantry,” Dyker Heights wasn’t always the biggest draw for Christmas lights in Brooklyn.
The neighborhood has been around for 120 years, originating as a luxury housing district between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. Throughout the year, Dyker Heights is a quiet Italian community, and the members have worked hard to keep the area historic and charming, maintaining most of the original houses and limiting the upcrop of condos. Many of the homes are original, and are considered among the most architecturally beautiful in the area.
The holiday lights extravaganza as we know it today was reportedly started in 1986 by a resident of 84th Street, who began decorating her house with lights and displays, inspiring her neighbors to follow suit.
Over the years, the holiday decorating bug spread down the block and soon encompassed a huge portion of the neighborhood, with neighbors engaging in friendly competition to see if one could out-decorate the other.
Today, over 100,000 people visit Dyker Heights during the holidays each year to enjoy the breathtaking displays.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO SEE AT DYKER HEIGHTS?
Photo Credit: Charlie
During the holiday season of 2016, Dyker Heights will be effectively transformed into a holiday wonderland, with many of the displays being done by professionals who specialize in Christmas decorations and store and maintain the decorations throughout the year.
Innovation in decorations is important to Dyker Heights, so year to year, you never know what gorgeous spectacles the neighborhood will produce. That’s why it’s always worth it to go back each new holiday season!
The most concentrated decorations will likely be between 11th and 13thAvenues, creating a virtual gridlock for blocks in either direction. There’s definitely something to be said for finding alternative methods of transportation than driving yourself.
You will see holiday lights in a number of colors, plus animatronic displays, elaborate tree decorations and more.
GETTING TO DYKER HEIGHTS
As we’ve already said, it’s essentially a gridlock on the streets in all directions heading into Dyker Heights during display season, especially if you’re planning your visit on a weekend.
The display usually opens in the last week of November and runs through early January, so you have a few weekends and weekdays to choose from before the display closes, allowing you some flexibility in avoiding the hordes of traffic.
There are multiple options for enjoying the lights this year, but the easiest way to get the most of the experience is to book a chauffeured vehicle and ditch the responsibility of driving and paying attention to traffic.
Because the area is so packed during the holiday season, you might have your chauffeur drop you off at the beginning of the lights display and come back to pick you up once you’ve made your way through the neighborhood.