Light displays

Tour guide Tony Muia judges the city's illuminated spectacles.

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  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Dyker Heights Lights
    What it is:
    More than 100,000 visitors make the pilgrimage to this south Brooklyn nabe every December to see larger-than-life Christmas displays, which in past years have included massive nutcrackers, silicone Santas and hundreds of thousands of sparkling holiday lights.
    Tony's take: "Now these are Christmas decorations! The tradition started with Lucy Spata back in the 1980s. When the neighbors complained about the traffic her lights caused, her response to them was, 'Move if you don't like it!' Her neighbors [came] around, and now everyone in the area takes part in the tradition. We're talking about real people conveying the spirit and magic of the holiday in a traditional way."
    Where to go: 82nd to 85th Sts between Tenth and Fourteenth Aves, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Through Dec 31.

  • Winter Garden Holiday Lights
    What it is:
    A holiday tradition since 1989, the display features 100,000 twinkling white lights strung throughout the Winter Garden, which transforms the glass-enclosed atrium into a festive wonderland.
    Tony's take:
    "It's pretty, but this doesn't say Christmas to me at all. Nothing about those lights evokes Christmas. It could just as well be a catering hall in Brooklyn. Winter Garden? Fuhgeddaboudit!"
    Where to go:
    World Financial Center, 220 Vesey St at West St (212-945-0505, artsworldfinancialcenter.com). Daily 7am--11pm; free. Through Jan 7.

  • Photograph: Bjorg Magnea

    Holiday Under the Stars
    What it is:
    Twelve 14-foot stars hang from the ceiling of the Time Warner Center's Great Room, lights flashing more than 16.7 million color mixes in time to Christmas tunes performed by Wynton Marsalis and members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra.
    Tony's take:
    "I don't get it. All they can come up with is a bunch of light-up stars that look like they were welded together in a metal shop? What's with that? It goes to show what happens when you don't put your heart or wallet into it. I'm not impressed. Time Warner? Fuhgeddaboudit!"
    Where to go:
    Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle at Broadway (212-823-6300, theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com). Daily 5pm--midnight; free. Through Jan 1.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Snowflake and Bubble Lights
    What it is:
    Each night, Saks Fifth Avenue illuminates the exterior of its flagship store with a two-minute light show, featuring LED snowflakes and bubbles that dance across the
    ten-story facade. The spectacle informs the theme of this year's holiday window displays, which are based on Who Makes the Snow?, a book about a little girl trying to find the source of the floating lights.
    Tony's take:
    "I'm not a big fan of their windows, but I like these snowflakes. I mean, what's not to like about flashing lights? Personally, though, if you're going to put stuff on the side of a building for the holidays, then I'd rather see some type of holiday graffiti. There are plenty of qualified, old-school artists who would love to get the job done."
    Where to go:
    Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave at 49th St (212-753-4000, saks.com). Daily, every 15 mins 5--10pm; free. Through Jan 6.

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Dyker Heights Lights
What it is:
More than 100,000 visitors make the pilgrimage to this south Brooklyn nabe every December to see larger-than-life Christmas displays, which in past years have included massive nutcrackers, silicone Santas and hundreds of thousands of sparkling holiday lights.
Tony's take: "Now these are Christmas decorations! The tradition started with Lucy Spata back in the 1980s. When the neighbors complained about the traffic her lights caused, her response to them was, 'Move if you don't like it!' Her neighbors [came] around, and now everyone in the area takes part in the tradition. We're talking about real people conveying the spirit and magic of the holiday in a traditional way."
Where to go: 82nd to 85th Sts between Tenth and Fourteenth Aves, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Through Dec 31.

RECOMMENDED: Christmas in New York guide 2012

We asked tour guide Tony Muia, who leads the Christmas Lights and Cannoli tour through Dyker Heights, Brooklyn (meet at Fourth Ave at 13th Sts; asliceofbrooklyn.com; daily through Dec 30 7--10:30pm; $55, children under 12 $45), to judge four of the city's biggest illuminated spectacles. (Unsurprisingly, the Dyker Heights lights were his favorite.)

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