New York Festival of Lights


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Who wouldn’t fall in love to dazzling and sparkling lights, especially during nighttime? Isn’t it great to feel majestic and spectacular for a moment? Well, thanks to thousands of lights that this kind of man-made scenery was able to take the hearts of many in awe. Along with the moon and bright stars, isn’t it the perfect time to spend moments with your family and loved ones?

New York Festival of Lights
Festival highlights

About the lights festival

Well, this kind of scenery is what a lot of New York City people are enjoying every day. The New York City Festival of Lights is one of the most-awaited and anticipated displays that brings joy and hope to anyone disregarding the age, ethnicity, language, and background. It brings a different taste of reality wherein people can feel magic and fantasy even for a short moment.

With that, a lot of visitors, despite the distance, are doing their best to reach and attend this once a year festival of lights. Besides, New York City is one of the leading and richest cities in the whole world, so necessities wouldn’t be that hard to find in this place. So, let’s learn more about this New York City Festival of Lights.

Festival Dates (2023)

The New York Festival of Lights offers a radiant tapestry of displays, each with its own distinct timeline. Generally, multiple locations across New York City start to glow with festive lights beginning in November. Dyker Heights, a neighborhood renowned for its extravagant holiday decorations, usually kicks off its luminous display just after Thanksgiving. In contrast, the iconic Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is slated to light up on November 29, 2023.

Adding to the allure of the season, Hudson Yards will unveil its resplendent display during an opening ceremony scheduled for November 13, 2023. Each location within the festival’s portfolio illuminates the city in its unique way, offering a myriad of opportunities to revel in the holiday spirit.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The New York Festival of Lights is a hallmark event that transcends a single venue, offering a myriad of luminescent displays across iconic locations in the city. During the holidays, various areas within New York City, such as Dyker Heights and Rockefeller Center, come alive with a radiant spectrum of lights, captivating residents and visitors alike.

How to Get to New York City by Train from Other Cities

Identify the Nearest Major Train Station: Check for the closest Amtrak or regional train station to your current location that provides routes to New York City.

Book Tickets in Advance: Due to the popularity of the New York Festival of Lights, trains can get booked quickly. Make your reservations well in advance to secure your preferred travel times.

Choose Your NYC Terminal: New York City has multiple train terminals, such as Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. Choose the one that’s most convenient for your festival itinerary.

Check Train Schedules: Keep abreast of train schedules and any potential delays or cancellations. Apps like Amtrak’s mobile app can be particularly useful for real-time updates.

Arrive Early for Boarding: Given that the holiday season sees an uptick in travel, aim to arrive at your departure station at least 30 minutes before your train departs.

Use Public Transit Upon Arrival: Once you arrive in New York City, you can use the subway or taxi services to reach your specific festival locations like Dyker Heights or Rockefeller Center.

Plan for Return Travel: If you intend to return to your city of origin by train, make sure to book a round-trip ticket or plan for return travel in advance.

Keep Festival Timing in Mind: Consider the start and end times of various light displays when planning your train travel to ensure you make the most of the New York Festival of Lights.

If you liked this lights festival, you can also check out these festivals:

Lewis Ginter Lights

Madrid Christmas Lights

Festival Hours

The festival lights usually begin after sunset and continues until late night. This is a perfect time for families and friends to enjoy the dazzling light displays and Christmas lights.

Cost to Visit

Most of these events are free, making it perfect for people from all walks of life to enjoy the holiday season with mesmerizing lights of kaleidoscopic colors.

Weather and What to Wear

Weather in New York City from November to January can be cold. It is advisable to wear in layers to comfortably enjoy the dazzling spectacles across the city. Bring a warm coat or a cozy sweater, and don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes as well.

Hotels Nearby – Where to Sleep

The Plaza Hotel

  • Location: 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019
  • Description: The Plaza Hotel is an iconic luxury hotel situated near Central Park, providing easy access to various Festival of Lights locations like Rockefeller Center.
  • Amenities: Amenities include a full-service spa, fine dining options, and a 24-hour concierge service. Rooms are equipped with high-speed internet, plush bedding, and elegant furnishings.

CitizenM Bowery

  • Location: 189 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
  • Description: CitizenM Bowery is a trendy, budget-friendly option located in the Lower East Side. Its location makes it convenient for those interested in visiting multiple Festival of Lights venues.
  • Amenities: The hotel provides 24/7 food and beverage service, a rooftop bar with stunning city views, and smart rooms controlled by an iPad. Free high-speed Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

  • Location: 50 Central Park S, New York, NY 10019
  • Description: Situated steps away from Central Park, The Ritz-Carlton offers an opulent experience with unparalleled views of the park, making it a luxurious option for those attending the Festival of Lights.
  • Amenities: The hotel features a spa, an on-site restaurant serving gourmet cuisine, and a fitness center with personal training options. Rooms come with marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and 24-hour room service.

What to Eat

Le Bernardin

  • Location: 155 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019
  • Description: Le Bernardin is a French seafood restaurant located in Midtown Manhattan. It’s a short distance from Rockefeller Center, making it an ideal dining spot for Festival of Lights attendees.
  • Dishes Served: Known for its exquisite seafood dishes, some highlights include the “Layered Thinly Pounded Yellowfin Tuna” and “Pan-Roasted Merluza”.

Katz’s Delicatessen

  • Location: 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
  • Description: A New York institution, Katz’s Delicatessen is a casual eatery famous for its classic deli sandwiches. It’s located in the Lower East Side, providing a different dining atmosphere compared to more upscale options.
  • Dishes Served: The deli is best known for its “Pastrami on Rye” sandwich and the “Matzo Ball Soup”.

Eleven Madison Park

  • Location: 11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010
  • Description: Located in the Flatiron District, Eleven Madison Park is a three-Michelin-starred restaurant that offers an exceptional dining experience, featuring modern European cuisine with a New York twist. Its central location makes it convenient for Festival of Lights attendees.
  • Dishes Served: The restaurant offers a seasonal tasting menu, with standout dishes such as the “Honey Lavender Roasted Duck” and “Butter-Poached Lobster”.

More Things to Do In the Area

Central Park

  • Location: Between 59th and 110th Streets, and between Fifth and Eighth Avenues, New York, NY
  • Description: This iconic 843-acre park is an oasis in the midst of Manhattan’s hustle and bustle. It offers everything from picturesque landscapes to recreational facilities.
  • Activities: Enjoy a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, take a leisurely boat ride in The Lake, or explore the Central Park Zoo. During the winter, you can also go ice skating.

Times Square

  • Location: Intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, extending from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, New York, NY
  • Description: Known as “The Crossroads of the World,” Times Square is an electrifying destination known for its bright lights, Broadway shows, and bustling atmosphere.
  • Activities: Watch a Broadway show, explore the myriad of shops and restaurants, or simply take in the energy of this vibrant area.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Location: 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028
  • Description: One of the most prestigious and largest art museums in the world, “The Met” offers a vast collection of art that spans over 5,000 years.
  • Activities: Browse through numerous galleries featuring everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary art. Don’t forget to visit the museum’s rooftop for panoramic views of Central Park.


During the long holiday season, every city in the US transforms into a magical wonderland with millions of lights. New York City is no exception. Every street is lit with bulbs. There are inflatable Santas and reindeer. 

But where can you see lights in New York City during the Christmas season? Below are a few options: 

Dyker Heights

After Thanksgiving, Dyker Heights lights start to turn into something we usually see during Christmas. All residents in the area decorate their homes with stunning holiday ornaments. Everyone can also see huge inflatable snowmen/Santa and life-size reindeer. There are also thousands of lights to explore. 

Rockefeller Center 

Another way to see dazzling lights in NYC is the Rockefeller Center. Every holiday, it has become a significant tourist destination for locals and even out of town visitors. It offers a Norway Spruce covered in LED lights. Also, the shrubberies are illuminated. Plus, there are golden angles. 

Central Park 

It has been a tradition for the Central Park Conservancy to drape and decorate the Charles A. Dana Center with holiday lights and a Santa. In 2020, the lighting was virtual, and families sang along with Christmas carols at the comfort of their home. Established on December 3rd, it stayed illuminated throughout the season. 

Hudson Yards

The restaurants and shops in Hudson Yards are other places to feel the essence of Christmas. You can easily witness a million lights and other dazzling pieces. There are also hot air balloons and Christmas trees. 

Grand Army Plaza 

Who wouldn’t know the Fifth Avenue in Midtown and the Grand Army Plaza’s the Pulitzer Fountain? Every local knows that. The Fifth Avenue, for example, is lit up with a variety of ornaments. The Pulitzer Fountain is also packed with large and stunning Christmas trees. 

Saks Fifth Avenue 

Your NYC Christmas lights tour won’t be completed without the ten-story facade of the Saks Fifth Avenue. It offers festive and fun LED light projections that usually last for two minutes and more. 

Other places to see lights in NYC include the winter garden at Brookfield Place, the light display at Time Warner Center, Rolf’s restaurant, and the Lincoln Center lights or the NYC festival of lights


The atmosphere of the Christmas season in New York City is indescribable. There are magical decorations and countless lights for New Yorker and other out of town visitors. 

Yearly, a huge Christmas tree is lit at the Rockefeller Center. The lighting ceremony took place on December 2nd and turned off in January 2021. 

But wait, there’s more! You can take the Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights. The decoration in houses is breathtaking. Dyker Heights in Brooklyn is always recognized as the best-decorated neighborhood in the US every year.

The Christmas new york festival of lights at Dyker Heights start right after Thanksgiving and can be enjoyed up to the new year. But what’s the best time to witness the most lights? Well, it’s probably in mid-December or later. The best displays are generally available on weekends. Everyone is also encouraged to go in the neighborhood from 5 to 9 pm because most homeowners turn on the lights, especially when it gets dark.


Here are a few more light festivals that you might want to see:
Wild Waves Festival of Lights
Gold Coast Light Festival

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