New York City’s most dazzling, dizzying wonderland of holiday lights and decorations radiates cheer far from the crowds at Rockefeller Center and the department store windows on Fifth Avenue. For the past few decades, residents of the Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn have made a tradition of covering nearly every square inch of their properties with inflatable cartoon characters, three-story nutcrackers, life-sized nativity crèches, and a blinding, blinking, bewildering sea of lights. Many of the surrounding blocks have an impressive display or two, so as you drive in or walk from the subway you may think “this must be it” a few times, but that’s only a hint of what awaits you on the core blocks, and when you get there, you’ll know it. At peak times the most popular block, 84th St between 11th and 12th Avenues, closes to car traffic, and a vendor sells hot chocolate, a welcome antidote for wandering (or standing open-mouthed in awe) in December temperatures.
Insider Tip: For the best chance of seeing everything, plan your visit for a weekend sometime between mid-December and New Year’s Eve, and go between 5 and 9pm. Head for 83rd through 86th streets, between 11th and 13th avenues. Be prepared to do some walking, including up and down moderate hills. To avoid a long walk to a subway station or a parked car (because you won't get a spot anywhere near the epicenter), consider joining a bus tour. And be sure to wear warm clothing, including touch screen gloves, because you are going to want to be able to take a constant stream of photos and videos without losing a finger to frostbite. .—Rebecca Baer
Candy canes, reindeer, and penguins aplenty.
Forget white lights – you’ll see purple, blue, and magenta trees.
Dogs love Christmas too.
Green lights on trees lend a tropical vibe to the cold Brooklyn night.
Houses are done up in lights and wreaths.
Santa statues range from kitschy to terrifying.
Snowflakes and bows add a final touch.
An army of nutcrackers in all shapes and sizes.
Christmas isn’t complete without a nativity scene.
A snowflake in every window.