Holiday Windows Walk 2011: Department Store Christmas Windows in NYC
Taking a leisurely stroll from Macy's to Bloomie's to look at all of the magical holiday windows is a longtime tradition for my family. In our pre-parenting days, my husband and I took this walk during the wee hours of Christmas Eve. Once our son was born, we moved it to Thanksgiving weekend. It's a wonderful way to kickoff the holiday season, totally free and creates lasting memories that our son will remember long after he's forgotten about the toys under the tree.
This year, we made it a Mommy Poppins playdate by doing the walk with Raven and her daughter. Although we adults felt that a few of the displays were lacking their usual pizzazz, the kids had a great time and enjoyed everything they saw. They especially liked the windows at Macy’s and Bloomingdale's since there were interactive elements, and the tricycle-riding mannequin at Saks.
Click through our NYC Holiday Windows Walk slide show and find out about the themes of each store's display. If you'd like to relive the windows of yesteryear, check out our holiday windows posts from 2009 and 2010. They never get old.
Macy’s Herald Square
151 West 34th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues
The windows on Macy's Sixth Avenue side are pretty impressive and promote the wonderful Make-A-Wish-Foundation. The theme is wishes, and the displays feature frosty white-and-silver animated marionettes with spinning whirligigs and gears. It's glittery, gorgeous and kind of trippy. The last window is interactive, and has several touch-screens where kids can create digital ornaments that are projected in the window. You can also have the ornament emailed to you by following the instructions in the window. On 34th Street, Macy's replaced last year's Miracle on 34th Street diorama with its Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus display, which was on the Sixth Avenue side in 2010.
Lord & Taylor
424 Fifth Avenue at 38th Street
No more Victorian Christmas windows at L&T! This year's theme, What is Christmas Made Of?, was inspired by a children's drawing store execs found, and features more contemporary holiday scenes. The display includes lots of artwork by NYC school children, and many tiny animated people and elaborate sets. Much as we loved the concept, we missed the old-school windows of yesteryear.
Saks Fifth Avenue
611 Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets
Saks skipped Christmas and Hanukkah and went straight to New Year’s Eve with its Land of the Bubble Makers display. The windows feature couture-clothed mannequins, animated contraptions made out of black-and-white cardboard, moving gears (a recurring theme among many windows this year) and even a giant old-school tricycle. Saks' usual projections of falling snowflakes on the facade have been replaced with whirling gears and doohickeys. Our kids found this display delightful but we parents weren't as impressed. After you're done, check out the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which is just across the street.
712 Fifth Avenue at 56th Street
This store's main window celebrates the Radio City Rockettes. Its mannequin is decked out in a gorgeous dress made entirely of Jelly Belly jelly beans, a crown and torch like the Statue of Liberty, and is walking a dog wearing red antlers. Absolutely fabulous!
Tiffany & Co
727 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street
The famous jewelry store really kicked up its holiday window this year. The window frames look like they're part of a spectacular merry-go-round, and each window has a porthole in which a story about escaped carousel animals helping Santa deliver his gifts unfolds. The windows are super-ornate but the scenes are tiny and difficult to photograph. They're best appreciated in person. If you're inspired to take a spin, Bryant Park's Le Carrousel is a short bus ride away.
754 Fifth Avenue at 58th Street
Bergdorf always creates fantastically opulent holiday windows, and this year is no exception. While they aren't very traditional (not a Santa in sight), kids and adults alike will ooh and aah at these incredibly intricate animal-themed displays. Our kids cackled at the giant birds and horses in tuxes. We parents were most impressed by the window in which everything (save the mannequin and her gown) was made entirely from paper! Best window on our entire walk, hands down.
660 Madison Avenue at 61st Street
As part of the store's Gaga's Workshop promotion, the Madison Avenue windows have been transformed into a surreal Lady Gaga wonderland with visions of the pop star as a mysterious mermaid and a futuristic motorcycle, and a recreation of her boudoir made entirely out of hair. There's also a video installation showing Lady Gaga as a constellation of stars. Not the most kid-friendly windows, but our children enjoyed dancing to the Gaga tunes blasting from the speakers.
1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street
The Lexington Avenue windows pay tribute to the store's iconic Big Brown Bags. The giant sacks fill the displays, and open to reveal animated sculptures. Be sure to stop and say, "Cheese." A special camera snaps your photo and displays it in the windows and potentially on Bloomingdale's Facebook page.
Seeing all of the windows in one walk may be a bit much for some families. Consider picking out a few that strike your fancy or you can catch one of the many MTA buses that go down Fifth Avenue (M1, M2, M3, M4 and the M5) at 59th Street. You won't be able to see the windows up close, but you'll still glimpse many holiday sights like the stores decked out in lights, the Rockefeller Center Tree and the UNICEF Snowflake, all without getting stuck in the crowds.
Find more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide and find great gift ideas in our NYC Shopping Local Gift Guide.