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The Top 5 Holiday Light Tours of New York City

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|by Mark Robinson |

Experience the glittering magic of the Big Apple this season

With the holidays upon us, one of the most festive parts of a visit to NYC during this joyous time of year are the myriad light displays adding magic and wonder to buildings, store windows, and other points of interest. There are several tours in the Big Apple that will ensure you see the merriest and brightest of these seasonal marvels, some of them paired with additional activities that add to the fun. Here are just a few tours and experiences that make the most out of the holiday light-viewing experience.

Holiday lights glitter throughout the city this time of year (Photo: iStock)

Holiday lights glitter throughout the city this time of year (Photo: iStock)

Holiday Lights & Movie Sites Tour
On Location Tours has the ideal fit for the holiday enthusiast and movie buff with their Holiday Lights & Movie Sites Tour. Not only will you witness spectacular light displays of the yuletide, but you will also visit several locations associated with beloved holiday films. Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, Scrooged, Serendipity and Home Alone 2 are just a handful of the motion pictures represented. Of course, no holiday & movie sites tour would be complete without a stop by the storefronts of such iconic department stores as Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s to revel in their amazing window displays.

New York Holiday Markets and Christmas Lights Tour
Whose to say that you cannot incorporate some holiday shopping into your excursion to see Christmas lights? The New York Holiday Markets and Christmas Lights Tour from Inside Out Tours is the perfect way to multitask. As your journey explores some of the highlights of the seasonal décor throughout the Big Apple, you will also make a stops at one of New York’s holiday markets where crafts, sweets, clothing, art and unique novelties are for sale. Be sure to bring some spending money and get some gifts for those near and dear to you.

A Slice of Brooklyn Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights
Manhattan isn’t the only place to find unforgettable Christmas lights experiences in the Big Apple. A Slice of Brooklyn Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights, with its extravagant parade through a light and color explosion, is proof in the Christmas pudding of this fact. Travel on a heated coach as you ride through one of America’s most-acclaimed light exhibits in the neighborhood of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Your guide will be a neighborhood local who can give you interesting insights on the displays, as well as on the people who created them. This tour only operates during the month of December, so don’t miss out!

New York City Lights Dinner Cruise
Perhaps you prefer to drink in the lights of New York City leisurely and at a distance, maybe while enjoying a mouthwatering meal? If so, the New York City Lights Dinner Cruise should prove the perfect evening for you. Hornblower Cruises New York offers this excursion on Friday and Saturday nights, providing a gourmet meal to be savored as the city skyline serves as your backdrop. You’ll get to see The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, One World Trade Center, and The Brooklyn Bridge, and will also glimpse some holiday lights along the way. It makes for a romantic and festive night.

NYC Winter Lantern Festival
Here is one that is guaranteed to put an infusion of magic into your holidays. Curated by the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, The NYC Winter Lantern Festival on Staten Island offers an array of live cultural shows, interactive exhibits, and breathtaking light displays. The highlights of this festival are the kaleidoscope of Chinese lanterns, making for a mystical journey through light and color. Also a part of the festivities are Tibetan folk dancers, magicians, juggling, plate spinning, and other entertainments that draw from the Chinese culture. The NYC Winter Lantern Festival runs from Nov. 20th, 2019―Jan. 12th, 2020.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His latest book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, released on October 15. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at

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