New York City's glittery, enchanting department store windows are a sight to behold during the Christmas season. The festive window display tradition dates all the way back to 1874, according to Macy's, the first retailer to start the trend. You can plan your own walking tour to see some of the most popular New York City department stores' holiday window displays at their landmark locations.
The window displays are almost always on view shortly before Thanksgiving and remain up until just after New Year's Day, so they can be experienced by visitors throughout the holiday season. Many stores even host a special event to mark the unveiling of the year's designs, and in recent years, there has been a greater amount of commercial support for the windows, with merchandise, books, and themed souvenirs available for sale at the stores.
The windows at Bloomingdale's are typically unveiled in late November just before Black Friday so they can be enjoyed by holiday shoppers throughout the season. Although the window displays along Third Avenue are also decked out for the holiday, the ones along Lexington Avenue are the ones you really want to see, as they feature the annual theme. In recent years, they have included interactive elements, so make sure your smartphone is charged to fully enjoy the experience.
Continue walking south along Fifth Avenue, and you will find the holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman along Fifth Avenue from 58th to 57th streets. These windows never fail to impress; they usually feature antiques and couture fashions in beautifully designed scenes.
The theme during the 2019 season was "Bergdorf GoodTimes," featuring scenes of revelry made out of different materials like neon, needlecraft, and Italian marble. The way the displays are arranged also creates the illusion of peeking into a room from the ceiling.
Saks Fifth Avenue
Between 49th and 50th streets, the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window displays are unveiled in late November and are a great choice for visitors with children, because they are often designed around a seasonal book for children and feature playful animations. Saks usually features a quite impressive lighting show on the facade of the building that visitors can enjoy throughout the evening.
Macy's has two sets of windows with holiday displays, six total, one set on Broadway between 34th and 35th streets, and another set along 34th Street. During peak hours, more than 10,000 people per hour will pass by the windows usually featuring iconic New York City holiday scenes and encapsulating the feeling of the season.
Macy's holiday window decorations typically make their appearance in late November. These are perhaps New York City's most famous holiday window displays and are always on view in time for visitors in town for Thanksgiving. There are usually many interactive elements where children can touch, smell, and even hold a conversation with some of the characters in the window displays.