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 Christmas lights in NYC.
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The 12 best places to see Christmas Lights in NYC
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. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Since the tradition’s inception in the 1980s, this Brooklyn neighborhood’s decorations have become bigger and brighter every year. Now it 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 Christmas Lights in NYC, 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.
- When? December 1st – January 5th
2. LuminoCity Festival
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 November 23rd through January 5th. 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? November 23rd – January 5th
3. Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show
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
- When? from November 26th
4. Rockefeller Center Tree
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 4th and marks the 87th 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 4th – through January
5. Holidays Under The Stars at Time Warner Center
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.
Stop by on a Monday!
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 11th – through January
6. Luminaries at Brookfield Place’s Winter Garden
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? from December 3rd – January 3rd
7. Rolf’s Restaurant Christmas Decorations
This place is not a typical location to see Christmas Lights in NYC, yet it made it on our list. Rolf’s Restaurant is a German restaurant in Gramercy Park. 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
8. Radio City Music Hall Holiday Decorations
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.
9. Winter Lantern Festival at Snug Harbor
After a successful festival in 2018, Winter Lantern Festival returns to Staten Island for a second time! 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 NYC, Staten Island should be on your list!
- When? November 20th – January 12th
10. Santa’s Corner in Whitestone
The most spectacular Christmas lights in NYC 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.
After a hiatus in 2017, 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
11. Hello Panda Festival at Citi Field
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. Tickets to attend the Hello Panda Festival cost $34 and can be purchased here.
- When? December 6th – January 26th
12. Shine On 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 29th