«

»

Print this Post

Brooklyn’s Christmas Lights…and a Cannoli

There’s not too much I miss about America and over the nearly five years we’ve been living in Italy, the list has gotten shorter and shorter. I have to admit, though, that each year when Thanksgiving rolls around, I do miss the massive Christmas lights displays. Sure, Europe has Christmas Markets that no doubt put you in the holiday spirit, but Italy very much celebrates Christmas in the traditional way of honoring the birth of Christ. Say what you will, but I miss the commercialization of the holiday! So when I heard about the Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour that takes you to some of the most outrageous and biggest Christmas light displays in all of America, I just had to journey across the Atlantic.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Lucy Spata’s display even includes a live Elmo to greet visitors!

Dyker Heights Christmas LightsDyker Heights Christmas LightsNo, I’m not talking about the dazzling 76-foot tall tree at Rockefeller Center or the dancing snowflakes that adorn the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue each holiday season. Some of America’s best Christmas light displays are in Brooklyn. Dyker Heights to be exact, which transforms into Dyker Lights each December. It was Brooklynite Lucy Spata, at 1152 84th Street that started the tradition 29 years ago. It was her parents that decorated their house with just a handful of ornaments and Lucy has been adding to the collection and personally putting up tens of thousands of lights each year ever since. Her house evoked a “Holy shit!” from me as we approached!

Lucy’s neighbors didn’t always love the display that turns on each Thanksgiving and lights up the neighborhood until Epiphany on January 6. She simply told them to move. Well, they either moved or embraced their neighborhood’s new found Christmas celebritydom because it’s now an unspoken competition to out decorate your neighbor. Lucy’s house is still the biggest and best display, but the heart of Dyker Heights — 12th Avenue between 82nd and 85th streets, and 84th Street between 10th and 13th avenues — is truly winter wonderland.

There’s a lot to take in. Our team of Christmas Lights and Cannoli guides from A Slice of Brooklyn took to the neighborhood with us to make sure we didn’t miss some of their favorite details on the over-the-top and upwards of $30,000 Christmas displays. They share details that just made the displays that much more special, like the Polizzottos just across the street from Lucy, who have a custom-designed Toyland-themed display. It was commissioned by the late Alfred Polizzotto during his initial fight with cancer 26 years ago. Mechanized horses weighing a ton each, 29-foot-tall toy soldiers marching in place, and 10-foot-tall lords a’leaping keep the front porch busy. Head up the steps and take your photo with the two-story tall Santa!

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

This life-size nativity was the most beautiful I saw

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Animetronic snowmen way to visitors

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

The Polizzottos (1145 84th St.)

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

The Polizzottos can hide inside this two-story tall Santa and greet visitors

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

One of the most elegant displays I saw

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

The Lambrones (8304 12th Ave.) have a 15-foot tall animetronic Frosty

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Dyker Heights Christmas LightsDozens of Dyker Heights houses get in the holiday spirit, but they’re not the only ones lighting up their Brooklyn neighborhoods. I was asked to keep the location of the other two neighborhoods we visited a secret. Only the most in-the-know Brooklynites know about these amazing houses, like the “Blue House” decorated by an Italian-American who married a Jewish woman.

Brooklyn Christmas Lights Brooklyn Christmas Lights

Brooklyn Christmas Lights

The “Blue House” can supposedly be seen from space!

Brooklyn Christmas Lights Brooklyn Christmas LightsOur final Christmas lights stop was just one house that does it up for the entire neighborhood. 295,000 lights that dance in sync with Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s rock-opera Christmas tunes. It was so amazing, a picture just wouldn’t do it just, so check out this short video of the dancing lights I took!

Brooklyn Christmas Lights

An astonishing 295,000 lights adorn this house!

The closest subway stop to Lucy Spata’s house in Dyker Heights is over a mile away, so A Slice of Brooklyn’s Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour is an excellent way to see the lights. Plus, they take you to two other neighborhoods and the guides themselves all live in Brooklyn. You couldn’t be in better or more knowledgeable hands. And no Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour would be complete without the best cannoli in all of Brooklyn and a steaming cup of hot chocolate to wash it down before boarding the bus back to Manhattan!

Know Before You Go

  • The Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour is nightly at 7pm from November 30 – December 31. The tour lasts about 3 1/2 hours and departs/returns to Union Sqaure in Manhattan.
  • The price is $55 per adult and $45 per child under 12 years of age.
  • Dress warm and be sure to bring a hat and gloves. You’ll be outside walking for around 30 minutes in Dyker Heights and 10 minutes in each of the other neighborhoods.

Disclosure: Thank you to A Slice of Brooklyn for hosting us on the Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour in order to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely our own and I assure you this is a not-to-miss tour if visiting NYC during the holidays!

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter and bases herself in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and innovation strategist in higher education and is a regular contributor on johnnyjet.com. Her website, jdombstravels.com, is the 2012 Destinology Travel Bloggy Best Newcomer award winner. Google+

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusStumbleUponYouTube

Did you enjoy this article?
Share
the
Love
Get Free Updates

Permanent link to this article: http://jdombstravels.com/christmas-lights-and-cannoli-tour/

22 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Larry D.

    Wow!I wonder how long it takes to put those displays up.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Lucy did an interview and said it takes her and her family 7 days a week for 3 weeks for about 9 hours a day.

    [Reply]

  2. Heather

    Holy crap that’s a lot of lights! I can’t believe I lived in Manhattan for five years and never heard about this fantastic display! This is definitely going on my list of things to do the next time I’m in New York for the holidays!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    I can’t believe you haven’t been out to Brooklyn to see these light displays, Heather! You’ll love it!

    [Reply]

  3. Ellen Christian

    Wow that’s a whole bunch of lights!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Isn’t it insane? Brooklyn definitely didn’t disappoint. I wanted to see Christmas lights and I certainly got them!

    [Reply]

  4. Sandy @ You May Be Wandering

    Great post! It made me want to go to Dyker Heights this year!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    You definitely should if you’re in the area, Sandy!

    [Reply]

  5. Bram | Travel. Experience. Live.

    I love this! I’m going to New York City at the end of the monthand I can’t wait to see those Christmas lights. Up until now I only know them from the movies :-)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    That’s exactly what this reminded me of, Bram! There’s a movie called Deck the Halls where two neighbors compete for the best decorated house. These houses were like straight out of the movie!

    [Reply]

  6. Mandy

    Holy Shit indeed! I thought my neighbours in our cosy little cul-de-sac in England were impressive but that is crazy!!

    It’s strange, the longer I stay away from South Africa the more I miss!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    These lights were seriously phenomenal! My parents use to drive me around to see the lights when I was a kid and I remember some pretty amazing houses when we lived in Las Vegas and Phoenix, but nothing even came close to this!

    [Reply]

  7. Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries

    There’s something truly amazing about a well put together christmas display. Commercialization or not, that’s one thing I loved about Christmas in the States as well.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Most definitely, Devlin! It just automatically puts you in the holiday spirit!

    [Reply]

  8. Lauren at OLT

    Love this article! Tony runs such a great tour of the holiday house lights in Brooklyn. What a sight to see!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Thanks, Lauren! Absolutely agree – Tony has a great team. I’m so glad I stumbled across his tour when I was researching Christmas things to do in NYC.

    [Reply]

  9. Marlene

    The tour was amazing. Each house outdid the other hard to pick just one that stood out

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    It really was that whole neighborhoods got into the spirit. So many beautiful homes and displays! It’s really awesome that they do this for the community every year.

    [Reply]

  10. Stef

    I love the American way of decorating for Christmas. In the district where my parents live there is one house which always is decorated as much as these houses with hundreds of lights, Santa Clauses and stuff like this. It’s the attraction of the neighbourhood!

    [Reply]

  11. Vid - Bruised Passports

    Wow! We thought we’d seen pretty “crazy” decorations here in London, but some of the houses here have done a fantastic job. Would make walking around in a neighbourhood such a joy :)

    Lovely pictures :)

    [Reply]

  12. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    Lots of great decorations! I like the penguins one (in the water?) most.

    [Reply]

  13. @ChristineSalins (FoodWineTravel)

    Lovely post, Jennifer. What a magical display of Christmas lights. Here in Australia people get into the spirit in much the same way – the only difference being it’s very hot Down Under! Merry Christmas.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>