New York City is especially magical during the holidays, due, in no small part to its brilliant light displays. This year, New York delivers all the classics in fine style, and adds to its collection of traditional lights and displays, some non-denominational, immersive exhibits and installations you can only find in New York. No matter which holiday your family celebrates, NYC’s got some lights to make your season a little brighter!
Holiday Under the Stars at Columbus Circle
The Shops at Columbus Circle are back with the annual Holiday Under the Stars display. The installation can be seen from every floor and features 14-foot, specialty crafted stars which light up from the inside for a spectacular view. Visit past 5 p.m. for a dazzling light show which begins every half hour on the hour. Dec. 13 - Jan. 3, 2018 5 p.m.-midnight daily The Shops at Columbus Circle 10 Columbus Circle Midtown Online: theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com
Christmas Lights at Jamaica Estates
There are a few pockets of spectacular lights located around the five boroughs, but our favorite this year is the Christmas Lights at Jamaica Estates. So well known that it has its own Facebook page, this light show will amaze visitors of any age. Thousands of glittering lights, intricate details, and fun displays are on display, and the lights turn on daily as soon as it gets dark. Be sure to stop by Santa's Magical Mailbox and drop off a donation for Toys for Tots, or send off some letters to Santa, which the Estate promises will be delivered to the North Pole ASAP. Jamaica Estates 185-07 80TH Dr. Jamaica Online: facebook.com/ChristmasInJamaicaEstates
Holiday Lights at Dyker Heights
It wouldn't be the holidays without Dyker Height's annual light display. The neighborhood has been dazzling visitors for years with its over-the-top light displays, put up by both professionals and regular homeowners. You can even book a tour with <a target="_blank" href="https://www.asliceofbrooklyn.com/bus-tours/christmas-lights-tour/">A Slice of Brooklyn</a>, who promise to escort you around "like family" -- but book quickly, as these tours have been known to sell out. In recent years the little area has gained fame for its lights, and is not so little anymore. This year the number of visitors is larger than ever, so be ready for a crowd -- and please remember that people live in these houses.
83rd through 86th Sts.
and 11th through 13th Aves.
Whiteout at Madison Square Park
While many other light shows suspend the lights out of reach, Edwin Redl's Madison Square Park installation allows visitors to stroll through the lights at waist-level. The display consists of transparent white spheres with glowing LED lights inside, which hang suspended about a foot from the ground. The orbs brighten and dim in unison to create a dancing pattern of lights, and gently sway in the wind, lending the park the feel of a fairy tale, especially after dark. This one is sticking around through March of next year, but it's worth bringing kids around for a viewing during the holiday season. Through Mar. 25, 2018 Madison Square Park Flatiron Online: <a target="_blank" href="madisonsquarepark.org
Transformer at the National Museum of the American Indian
Celebrate light and sound through the lens of a different culture in Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound. The exhibit, currently on display at the Museum of the American Indian, is a collection of ten artists' works. The display uses light, digital projection, and experimental media to examine the interactions between cultures. The exhibit uses bright and colorful lights and displays to engage visitors of any age, and will challenge traditional beliefs about Native American art.
Through Jan. 6, 2018
National Museum of the American Indian
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
One Bowling Green
Battery Park City
Online: <a target="_blank" href="http://nmai.si.edu/explore/exhibitions/item/?id=960">nmai.si.edu</a>
Luminaries at Brookfield Place
Brookfield Place brings some cheer indoors with Luminaries, a mesmerizing installation of lights and colors designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group. The display consists of glowing lanterns hung overhead inside the Winter Garden, which change and pulsate with alternating brightness and color as you watch. Brookfield Place is also hosting a program in tune with the season's spirit of giving and charity: three Wishing Stations on the ground allow visitors to send a "wish" into the light display; for every wish sent over the exhibit's duration, Brookfield Place will donate $1 (up to $25,000) to the GRAMMY Museum's music education programs.
Through Jan. 5
230 Vesey St.
Battery Park City
A Sea of Light at the Seaport District
The Sea of Light is a collaboration between the Seaport District and San Francisco-based Symmetry Labs. The light display is a playground for the sense, offering a constantly shifting, immersive sensory experience. The lights and displays are activated by movement and sound, encouraging play and exploration. Through Mar. 30, 2018 The Seaport District 19 Fulton St. Financial District Online: southstreetseaport.com
Festival of Life at David Zwirner
Artist Yayoi Kusama's Festival of Life might not be a traditional light show but it's full of lights and shines that will dazzle any child -- or adult. Presented as part of a two-exhibit combo, the Festival of Life presents a collection of paintings and installations by the artist, but the biggest draw are the two mesmerizing Infinity Mirror Rooms. Be aware that this exhibit is extremely popular and the wait time can stretch to hours, but it's well worth the wait.
Through Dec. 16
David Zwirner Gallery
525 & 533 W. 19th St.
Online: <a target="_blank" href="https://www.davidzwirner.com/exhibitions/yayoi-kusama">davidzwirner.com</a>
Glittering Window Displays at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Ave, and Macy's
Window displays across the big retailers in the city are always fun, and this year the big ones outdid themselves as usual. Our favorites are the spectacular displays of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Ave, and (of course) Macy's. For a real light show, check out Bergdorff's windows, To New York With Love, which are presents a tribute to seven of NYC's beloved cultural institutions with glittery dinosaur skeletons and neon light shows. Macy's theme this year is The Perfect Gift Brings People Together, for which the store turned its windows into a wonderfully whimsical and bright fairytale world. Sak's Fifth Avenue, meanwhile, focused on Snow White this year, celebrating the Disney tale's 80th anniversary with its window display Once Upon a Holiday which recreates scenes from the classic fairy tale and even envisions what Snow White would look like today. Bergdorf Goodman 754 Fifth Ave. at West 57th Midtown Online: bergdorfgoodman.com Saks Fifth Ave 611 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street Midtown Online: saksfifthavenue.com Macy’s Herald Square 151 W 34th St. Herald Square Online: macys.com
What’s the best display you saw this season? Tell us in the comments!