Where to See Dazzling Holiday Light Displays in NYC This Year

World-famous Christmas trees, laser light projections, and more to get in the spirit of the season.

Archway at Winter Cathedral
People under an archway of lights. | Winter Cathedral by Mandylights. Copyright Sony Music.
People under an archway of lights. | Winter Cathedral by Mandylights. Copyright Sony Music.

Celebrating the most wonderful time of year in the most remarkable city on Earth should never be taken for granted. Each December, the five boroughs come to life with holiday markets, ice rinks, and unmatched Christmas light displays powerful enough to excite Scrooge himself.

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rearview, the city’s holiday decor is up for the world to see, with a blend of old faithful destinations and reimagined attractions rounding out the sparkly winter agenda. Here are the 8 best Christmas light displays in New York City this year—to achieve maximum holiday spirit, you’ll want to check each of these off your to-do list before 2023 rolls around.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights | Philipp Alexander/Flickr

Through December 31
Dyker Heights
In the south of Brooklyn lies the most immaculate holiday display New York City has to offer. Dyker Heights proves just how far Christmas decor can go, as beautiful homes all throughout the neighborhood compete to see who can put on the best show. Hop on the official bus tour or guide yourself from house to house, snapping jaw-dropping photos while you go merrily on your way. For the best experience, arrive after dark and plan to wrap up the adventure by 9 pm, when many of the lights turn off.
Cost: Free

Amaze Light Festival
Amaze Light Festival

Select dates through January 8
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
The Amaze Light Festival is an immersive winter experience that goes beyond twinkling LEDs. Guests of all ages can enjoy performances, treats and rides as they revel in the glow of the light displays. Stroll through a holiday market, sip a specialty drink—perhaps a cocktail, for the adults—and munch on sweet and savory bites. When you’re all filled up, get ready for action: tube down an icy hill, board the Arctic Express Train, and meet friendly characters that’ll brighten up the night.
Cost: General admission tickets go for around $50, with discounts for children 12 and under

 Bronx Zoo
Julie Larsen Maher © Bronx Zoo

Select dates through January 8
Bronx Park
On top of musical light shows and hundreds of animal-themed lanterns, the Holiday Lights event at the Bronx Zoo boasts ice carving demonstrations, glowing stilt walkers, and a kid-friendly train. To stay cozy, guests can also enjoy wintry treats like Roasted S’mores, Hot Chocolate, and Churros. The evening activity is particularly great for couples and families, and complements the nearby GLOW display at the New York Botanical Garden for holiday fanatics who just can’t get enough.
Cost: Tickets go for about $40, with discounts for children and seniors

Winston Tan/Shutterstock

Through the new year
The town square outside 30 Rock becomes the world’s most recognizable Christmas display in December, serving as a backdrop for several classic holiday movies over the years. When the lights go up after Thanksgiving, all eyes turn to the 82-foot-tall Norway spruce, which is lit with 50,000 colorful LEDs and weighs 14 tons. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree sits just behind the equally noteworthy ice rink, and is framed by a row of illuminated, trumpeting angels guiding your vision toward the centerpiece. There’s simply no sight more iconic and no place more merry than the Rockefeller Center at Christmas.
Cost: Free

Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue

Holiday Windows on Fifth Avenue

Through the new year
While you’re in Midtown to see the Rockefeller Center, allow some time to stroll past the shops on nearby Fifth Avenue. As is tradition, upscale retail stores fill their windows with show-stopping displays themed for the holidays, and buildings on the strip are adorned with festive lights. The centerpiece of the area is the Saks Fifth Avenue display, where music and exhilarating light projections steal the spotlight.
Cost: Looking is free, but window shop at your own risk

Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. | Photo by Liz Ligon. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Select dates through January 8
Crown Heights
Have you ever roamed the botanic garden at night? Now you can, on a mile-long trail illuminated by more than 1 million lights that will make you forget you’re standing in the heart of Brooklyn. The Winter Cathedral light tunnel is one of the most beautiful photo ops in the city, but far from the only thing Lightscape offers; with each new section of the trail comes an immersive new art installation that shines bright for the season. It’s everything you love about nature and the holidays, mashed into one event.
Cost: General admission tickets go for $40; discounts available for children under 12

NYC Winter Lantern Festival
Kaleido Arts & Entertainment Group

Select dates through January 8
St. George
The fourth annual Winter Lantern Festival has returned to Staten Island, this time at the SIUH Community Park, just down the road from the ferry terminal. This year’s theme is Journey to the East, celebrating Chinese myths with a wonderland of lanterns standing more than 30 feet tall, lighted swings that guests can ride, and concession stands to complete the experience. The organizers are also hosting differently themed lantern festivals in Queens, Nassau County, and Suffolk County, if you live on the Long Island side of town.
Cost: $31 per person; $20 for kids 12 and under

Shine Bright at Hudson Yards
Shine Bright at Hudson Yards | Photo courtesy of Hudson Yards New York

Through the holiday season
Hudson Yards
New York City malls know how to decorate for the holidays, but Hudson Yards just might do it best. More than 2 million elegant white lights adorn the shopping district, even wrapping The Vessel, but the most picture-worthy attraction remains the illuminated, 32-foot hot air balloon suspended inside the mall lobby. Once you’ve taken in the lights, you can continue absorbing the Christmas spirit at a speakeasy-style cabaret bar on Level 5 that plays host to costumed entertainers, a variety show, and a live band.
Cost: Free to stop through the mall; the speakeasy experience starts at $55 each

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Kyler Alvord is a former staff writer at Thrillist who keeps coming back for more. Find him on Twitter and Instagram, or in any Brooklyn coffee shop that serves bagels.