The chilly weather might make some of us want to stay indoors, but there’s a reason to strap on your boots and brave the cold: New York City’s holiday windows are back and as grand as ever. In addition to various holiday markets and the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the unveiling of these extravagant displays is a highly anticipated event that takes place each year. New York’s biggest department stores, which are responsible for the windows, call on teams of artists to create its displays — a process which can take several months.
This year, we embarked on a mission to track down the best displays, created by Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co., Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and more. The big takeaway from our little excursion is that there are a lot of New York City-themed windows. Of course, this is only a sampling of what you’ll actually get to see in person:
8. Macy’s at Herald Square
Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street-Herald Square has put on a display that is a “feast for the eyes,” according to USA Today. The windows were unveiled on Thursday with a celebration that included a fireworks display. This year’s theme is “The Perfect Gift Brings People Together,” featuring mood boards that depict miniatures of recognizable parts of New York City, including the subway, the Roosevelt Island Tram and Macy’s itself, of course.
In addition to animated snow-filled skies, there are quintessential holiday elements, like an ice skating rink, Santa and a host of characters, including penguins, polar bears and mice. Roya Sullivan, Macy’s National Director of Window Presentation, states that the theme refers back to the energy and activities that take place as we get ready for the holiday season. The windows will be on view until January 1.
7. Bergdorf Goodman
Much like Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows are very much inspired by the city. Titled “To New York With Love,” the windows are a festive celebration of visual arts, history, music, film and more.
Avant-garde in style, they showcase seven major cultural organizations, including the New York Historical Society, the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the New York Botanical Garden and more. You’ll see Swarovski-covered dinosaurs, mannequins donning floral head pieces and a collection of red instruments. The windows are on view until January 1.
6. Henri Bendel
This year, Henri Bendel partnered with Lovepop, a Boston-based startup that specializes in 3D paper structures, to create its colorful windows. In a tribute to fearless creators, the display includes over 30,000 butterflies and intricate, paper-made flora and fauna. There is also an Instagram wall for those who want to commemorate their visit.
This is the first time Lovepop is utilizing its SlicegamiTM paper-cutting art for a project outside of its greeting cards. It’s all on view until January 1.
5. Saks Fifth Avenue
The windows at Saks Fifth Avenue are not only inspired by the holidays, but also by Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Entitled “Once Upon a Holiday,” the display celebrates the 80th year of the movie and features different scenes from it, including Snow White dancing with her furry woodland friends.
In addition, the 49th and 50th Street windows showcase modern interpretations of fairytale gowns, created by fashion designers and luxury brands like Alberta Ferretti and Fendi. The windows will be on view through to January 20.
4. Lord & Taylor
Lord & Taylor is presenting five animated windows and 13 smaller ones, which each depict various holiday scenes seen though enchanted snow globes. This includes a fun, vintage-style circus, a winter woodland and “Christmas in the City,” which incorporates iconic elements of New York City, such as the skyline and yellow taxi cabs.
According to PR Newswire, putting the display together took a team of roughly 75 craftsmen, artists and engineers who spent over 35,000 hours working. The windows will be on view through January 5.
Bloomingdale’s festive display is the result of a partnership with The Greatest Showman, a film based on the true story of how P. T. Barnum. As such, you can expect to find circus inspired presentations with mannequins wearing dazzling, elaborate outfits.
In fact, more than 7,600,000 Swarovski crystals were used to embellish the costumes and props you’ll see in the displays.
2. Tiffany & Co.
One should expect to be bedazzled by Tiffany & Co.’s holiday presentation. The store’s facade is like a giant piece of jewelry and its windows are no less stunning.
Illustrating the magic of giving a Tiffany present, the windows shimmer with light and focus on the famed Tiffany Blue Box. Designed by Gene Moore, one scene includes an engagement ring set on a hook and a mannequin ice fishing while another showcases figures sculpting ice. There’s also a Christmas tree decorated with diamonds and a mini Rockefeller Center, presented with a jewel-trimmed tree and Prometheus in gold leaf (images via Tiffany & Co.). The windows are on view through January 1.
If you passed by Cartier recently, you might have noticed that it’s now disguised as a giant present box. It’s a festive addition to the building’s already beautiful exterior. The red sparkling bow, decked out in holiday lights, is a spectator favorite. “I was absolutely stopped in my tracks by the beauty of this simple decoration,” noted one passerby.
The history of the Cartier building itself is also quite interesting: in 1905, Architect C.P.H Gilbert built this American Renaissance mansion at the corner of 52nd Street and 5th Avenue for Morgan Freeman Plant, son of the railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant. The original front entrance of the home was on 52nd Street, and next door were the mansions of George W. Vanderbilt, son of William Henry Vanderbilt.