New York Christmas Lights: Everything You Need to Know

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During the holiday season, electric bills skyrocket all throughout New York City. Seeking to outdo one another, both private homes and established landmarks string up dazzling lights for you to marvel at in every direction you turn. Here’s where to go to see the most stunning New York Christmas Lights.

Spending Christmas in New York is really special – decorations and lights in the city remain unparalleled. The best way to explore the magic is by taking a guided tour. Find out which of the many New York Christmas Lights tours we personally recommend this year – we’ve done those ourselves!

The 16 best places to see the New York Christmas Lights

Every year, the holiday spirit takes over all five boroughs of New York. Though all Christmas decorations in NYC are beautiful, some are a little more impressive than others which is why we have picked out the absolute best places to see New York Christmas lights for you.

  1. 01

    From Manhattan: Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Bus Tour

    Bus Tour in Dyker Heights

    Our Highlight

    This is one of the Best Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Tours

    Since the tradition’s inception in the 1980s, this Brooklyn neighborhood’s decorations have become bigger and brighter every year. Now Dyker Heights is famous for its spectacular, over-the-top holiday decorations and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Strolling through the streets, passing one house after the other, you can see life-size Santas, snowmen, trees, and many other Christmas displays. To top the lavish decorations themselves, Christmas carols waft from outdoor speakers. If that doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, what does?

    As some of the most exuberant New York Christmas Lights, a visit to Dyker Heights is a must during the holiday season. The small neighborhood starts looking like a magical Christmas village beginning the week after Thanksgiving. While you can choose to explore the massive light displays by yourself, we can hook you up with an interactive guided tour that lets you enjoy the highlights and maximize your experience.

    This is our guide to Dyker Heights Christmas Lights.

  2. 02

    Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show

    Other Shopping in Midtown Manhattan


    Saks Fifth Avenue does not only boast festive holiday windows but also an annual theatrical light show. Seeing the holiday light show at Saks has become a tradition for many locals and visitors. The light show is accompanied by music and repeats itself every 10 minutes from 5 pm to 11 pm.

    As some of the most spectacular Christmas Lights in NYC, you may imagine that the sidewalks are extremely crowded. Though that is completely true, it’s totally worth seeing the spectacle at least once.

    Besides the Light Show, Saks also decorated its windows!

    In 2021 you can see the Saks Holiday Windows from November 22 on. The 3 minutes and 23 seconds long light show can be seen daily every 10 minutes from 4:30 pm to 11:35 pm.

    • When? from November 22nd
  3. 03

    Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

    Other Attraction in Midtown Manhattan


    Of course, the iconic Rockefeller Plaza is home to one of the most beautiful Christmas decorations in NYC. It is a holiday beacon and the epicenter of New York’s holiday season. Crowds flock here like nowhere else in the city to see the impressive tree in person. Thousands of light bulbs drape the tree that is crowned by a new dazzling diamond Swarovski star every year. Apart from the tree itself, there are angels and adorned foliage sweetening the sight of the famous display.

    A special time to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is during its lighting ceremony. It always takes place the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. This year, it falls on Wednesday, Dec 1st 2021 and marks the 89th ceremony in its history. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony is free to attend. To actually get a peek of the tree being lit at 8 pm, however, you need to be here many hours in advance.

    • When? December 1st – through January
  4. 04

    Holidays Under The Stars at Time Warner Center

    Other Attraction in Hell’s Kitchen


    The Shops at Columbus Circle boast the largest specialty crafted display of illuminated color in the world! Twelve 14-foot handcrafted stars will be hanging from the ceiling inside the Time Warner Center. If you show up in the evening hours, know that there is a dazzling light show every half hour from 5 pm till closing. Access to the spectacle is free! The specialty exhibit “Holidays Under the Stars” is a true New York tradition and comes with extended shopping hours. Dine, shop and enjoy the entertainment after you visited Columbus Circle Holiday Market, one of the best Christmas markets in the city.


    To pair some of the best Christmas lights in NYC with an even more magical experience, come here on a Monday. That’s when Broadway Under the Stars takes place inside the Shops at Columbus Circle. Who doesn’t like a free light show and Broadway  performance?

    • When? November 4 – December 16
  5. 05

    Rolf’s Restaurant

    Other Restaurants in Gramercy


    Rolf’s German Restaurant in Gramercy Park draws thousands of visitors and locals to its location. Why? It features some of the most over-the-top holiday decorations starting in November. It is not a typical location to see New York Christmas Lights, yet it made it on our list. You won’t find another restaurant with over-the-top holiday decorations like this one. The restaurant is transformed into a veritable fairytale, made up of thousands of ornaments hanging from the ceiling. The elaborate decorations alone make dining here worth it.

    • When? from November 1st
  6. 06

    Radio City Music Hall Decorations

    Other Attraction in Midtown Manhattan

    Outside Shot of Radio City

    Radio City Music Hall is a famous New York concert venue, in part due to its world-famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. When you arrive, you will be overawed by the jolly exterior decorated with a Christmas tree for the holiday season. Across the street from it, giant tree ornaments provide the perfect holiday photo op for your next Christmas card. They are worth seeing during both the day and evening, as they are also illuminated once the sun sets.

    While visiting to see some of the best Christmas decorations in NYC do not miss the Radio City Spectacular. The Christmas show is obligatory if you are in New York during the holiday season.

  7. 07

    Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards

    Other Events in Hudson Yards

    Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards

    Starting at the end of November, you can enjoy a spectacular light show at Hudson Yards titled “Shine On”. It’s one of the newest Christmas light displays in New York City. Shine On is an indoor-outdoor light and music installation. Every day at 5 pm, “the moments” invite spectators to get dazzled by a visual spectacle that is synchronized to festive music.

    • When? from November 15, 2021
  8. 08

    Enjoy the Christmas Decorations at Bloomingdale’s

    Other Shopping in Midtown Manhattan


    Bloomingdale’s is an institution in New York. The brown shopping bags that you are sure to feel like you’ve come across a hundred times in New York are very well known. There is a reason for this: the selection is huge and really valuable!

    Bloomingdale’s is festively decorated just in time for the Holiday Season. For us, the store is one of the most beautiful in New York!

  9. 09

    Holiday Lights Show at New York Botanical Garden

    Other Attraction in Bronx


    NYBG GLOW is a light installation at the New York Botanical Garden during the Christmas season in NYC. On 25 evenings from 5 pm – 10 pm you can admire this outdoor exhibition on a 1.5 mile long path. This is the 2nd time this event has been held, now with even more stunning colors and displays.

    My tip: Combine your visit with the Holiday Train Show!

    Tickets are available here.

    • When? November 24, 2021 – January 22, 2022 (25 selected nights)
  10. 10

    Luminaries at Brookfield Place’s Winter Garden

    Other Attraction in Battery Park City


    This beautiful holiday light installation was designed by LAB at Rockwell. Glowing lanterns that change colors and intensity will light the room inside the winter garden at Brookfield Place. If you stay here long enough, you may even catch a winter-themed show that is displayed every 30 minutes. They are one of my favorite New York Christmas lights, complemented by the alluring ambiance of Brookfield Place.

    Brookfield Place is also a great destination to do some holiday shopping and connects to the Westfield shopping center inside the Oculus. When you’ve finished all your seasonal gift purchases, it’s great to sit down on the stairs inside the Winter Garden and enjoy the show.

    • When? November 29, 2021 – January 2, 2022
  11. 11

    Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

    Other Events in Bronx

    BRONX ZOO Holiday Lights

    On the list of the best Christmas lights in New York, the Bronx Zoo is definitely not to be missed! It is one of the newest Holiday Lights in the city and looks really beautiful. You can see over 260 different light display, tree lightings, animal lanterns and animated sculptures.

    The animals and plants are mad of huge lanterns made with great attention to detail. This year, the collection has grown even more, with 30 new species added. From elephants to frogs, butterflies, polar bears, corals, lions and much more you can experience at the Bronx Zoo.

    • When? November 19, 2021 – January 9, 2022

    Photo: Julie Larsen Maher

  12. 12

    Lantern Fest Fridays at Snug Harbor

    Other Attraction in Staten Island

    The Winter Lantern Festival takes place at Snug Harbor, Staten Island, and feature large light installations. At the Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, a whimsical world will be created with over 1,000 lanterns across 8 acres. Lights, shows, and exhibits will be different from last year’s display, making it worth a returning visit even for those who partook last year. So if you’re looking to see some gorgeous Christmas displays in New York, Staten Island should be on your list!

    • When? Fridays in December
  13. 13

    Central Park Holiday Lighting

    Other Events in Harlem & Washington Heights


    Images from the 23rd Annual Holiday Lighting in Central Park at the Harlem Meer.

    The Annual Central Park Holiday Lighting is always held in December near the Harlem Meer in Central Park and draws several hundred New Yorkers each year. It is a free event, a choir sings and there are a few Christmas booths with delicious food and drinks.

    • When? Thursday, December 2nd
  14. 14

    Santa’s Corner

    Other Attraction in Flushing

    The most spectacular Christmas lights in New York are not only in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Queens should also be on your radar if you are on the hunt for a magical Christmas light experience. Here, you will find an alternative to the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights in Brooklyn.

    Whitestone homeowner Kevin Lynch drapes his house in thousands of twinkling lights once again. What can you see here? Nutcrackers, Santas, snowmen: you name it! Can you believe that it takes him about three months to set up the decorations? Santa’s Corner, along with all the other beautiful Christmas lights in NYC, truly fosters the holiday spirit. For some of you, the name may ring a bell. That’s for good reason: Lynch was featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” where he won the competition.

    • Where? the intersection of 166th Street and 23rd Avenue
  15. 15

    Hello Panda Festival

    Other Events in Flushing


    Hello Panda prides itself in being the largest lantern festival in North America. What that means for you: more magical holiday light displays. The stadium does not only feature lantern exhibits but also live entertainment and a holiday market, making a perfect spot to spend the evening.

    • When? Not officially announced, yet.
  16. 16

    LuminoCity Festival

    Other Attraction in Outside of New York City


    This dynamic holiday light festival is coming to New York for the first time this year. You can expect an immersive wonderland set up on Randall’s Island Park from End of November through the first week of. The six-week-long holiday event covers 12 acres and is called The Winter Fantasy. It features a frozen world, consisting of various light installations, such as “the skating unicorn”, “the castle in the crowds”, “the frosted forest” and “the icy valley”. If you are looking for a great photo opportunity, the icy blue and white lights won’t disappoint you.

    To make your experience even more enjoyable, live performances and a holiday market offering lots of food and crafts will be present on the island as well. What better way to enjoy New York Christmas lights than with some delicious snacks?

    • When? Not officially announce yet for 2021.

The Best New York Christmas Lights Tours for 2022

There are six Holiday Light tours in New York we can recommend. Each of them is a little different: some are bus tours, others are walking tours; some take place in Brooklyn, others in Manhattan. See the details for yourself to decide which ones of the New York Christmas lights tour is best for you.

The Christmas lights tours in Brooklyn focus around Dyker Heights (here is our guide to Dyker Heights Christmas Lights). The festive neighborhood showcases the most popular Christmas decorations in NYC by far. Needless to say, the tours here are also the most popular holiday lights tours in New York. Coming here, you have the option to explore the festive neighborhood on foot or by bus.

The Christmas lights tours in Manhattan are both small-group walking tours that will show you the most beautiful Christmas lights New York has to offer. The longer holiday lights tour also includes New York’s most iconic Christmas markets. During the walk, you will learn interesting facts about each landmark that will make you appreciate the lights even more. Of course, there will be plenty of time to take photos and drink hot cocoa, too!

Any of these NYC Christmas lights tours offers you a magical experience. Your choice mainly depends on whether you want to stay in Manhattan or head to Brooklyn and whether you want to walk or go by bus!

Our Video about the famous Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Tour👇

FAQ about Christmas lights in New York

When do Christmas lights go up in New York?

Thanksgiving officially kicks off the holiday season in New York. From this point on, the first Christmas lights can be seen in New York, the shop windows are decorated and the Christmas markets are open!

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