With Christmas only a week away it’s crunch time for seeing all of the wonderful light displays illuminate New York City.
From residential neighborhoods with elaborate outdoor light shows to the classic retail window displays in Manhattan, there’s a handful of things you can do with your family to immerse yourselves in the holiday spirit. Although Rockefeller Center and the Saks Fifth Ave light show both seem like enchanting holiday activities, the massive crowds make the area a dreadful place to be–especially this week! Mobs of people crowd around the Rockefeller Plaza to get a glimpse of the gorgeous tree, or stand on the sidewalk to wait for the next Saks storefront show, and the people trying to walk through quickly become pushy, which doesn’t make it the safest place to go with small children. Unless it’s your first time in the city during the holiday season, it’s best to stay away from this area so late into the holiday season.
(Tip: The Rockefeller tree actually stays up into the first week of January, and the Saks display doesn’t come down until January 2nd, so if you’re dying to see it then that is likely a better time to go.)
That said, there are plenty of other festive illuminations across the city that are fun and less stressful! Every borough is home to lovely Christmas light displays, and what better time to visit them than the week leading up to the big day?
Where: Dyker Heights, Brooklyn (between 83rd and 86th Streets, and 11th and 13th Avenues)
What: This Brooklyn neighborhood has become an informal Christmas light show, with houses decked out in nutcrackers, snowflakes, angels, reindeer, elves, Santa, and more lights than you can imagine. Stop by any evening from now through December 31!
Where: 166th Street and 23rd Avenue (Whitestone, Queens)
What: The retired firefighter that lives in this house has been known to put on some of the post spectacular light displays in Queens. It’s a must see if you can make it out there!
Lights 4 Life
Where: 107 Sharrotts Road (Charleston, Staten Island)
What: The DiMartino family has been decorating their home for nearly 40 years, but since the loss of wife Debra Ann DiMartino on 9/11 the holiday display has become a memorial for her. Her husband Joe puts on over-the-top decorations and hopes people will be filled with the holiday spirit of giving. Although seeing the house is free, he accepts donations that benefit the Staten Island University Hospital Pediatric Cancer Unit in Loving Memory of Debora Ann.
Where: Between 49th and 58th Streets (with others scattered around the area as well)
What: If you can deal with some of the Midtown craziness, you should definitely stop by some of the stores on Fifth Avenue and check out their gorgeous winter displays. Some particularly amazing ones are Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s (however, Macy’s in Herald Square also has a wonderful window display).
Where: Madison Square Garden Park (between Fifth and Madison Avenues)
What: With a Christmas tree lit up nearby, the Gingerbread Village is a perfect place to go with little ones. It’s only open until December 19, so you’ll want to hurry on over as soon as possible. It’s a perfect photo opportunity for some family photos with the Empire State Building as a backdrop. Kids can also enter into the life-sized gingerbread house and explore!