10 magical Christmas windows to visit in New York City

Christmas is a magical time in New York City. The scent of hot apple cider and chocolate lingers in the air. Holiday markets are popping up around town. The Rockefeller Christmas tree towers over downtown. New York and New Yorkers seem to be slowing down and accelerating at the same time. Holiday cheers cover the city and (hopefully) a dusting of snow.

New York is famous for its Christmas windows – Macy’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany’s, Bloomingdale’s and many more stores have fantastic window displays during the holiday season. The exhibition themes change every year and we look forward to the moment in the middle to the end of November where we can go for a walk to see them.

Here are some of our favorite places to enjoy this season’s exhibits.

Macy's Christmas Window 2020.
Sue Davies / Travel for Life Now

1. Macy Herald Square, 151 W. 34th Street

According to local knowledge, Macy’s was the first store to display Christmas windows in 1874. It was followed by Saks Fifth Avenue in 1914 and Lord & Taylor in 1938. Now all stores and malls have beautiful holiday exhibits. In our opinion, Macy’s is still a leader in time and presence. Santa Claus appears for the first time in town at the end of Macy’s Thanksgiving Giving Day parade.

In 2020, Macy’s screen was a thank you to first aiders and essential workers, including a window where viewers were encouraged to clap for the essential workers as at. The 19.00 clap that took place early in the pandemic. Some windows were interactive, including one where you could help Santa’s sleigh fly across New York City.

Pro tip: Most people focus on 34th street. Also walk around to the 6th Avenue side. We recommend going into the store to shop or see the decor. If you have children, make a reservation in advance to visit Macy’s Santaland.

Holiday exhibit at Bloomingdale's on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue.
Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com

2. Bloomingdales, 1000 Third Avenue

Bloomingdales is another stop on our windowsill. We loved the 2019 tribute to the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing called Out of this world. Other recent themes have included Doctor Seuss’ Grinchen and a light theme a few years ago that included chandeliers by visual artists. Last year’s theme was Illuminates Young Mind and included a virtual benefit for the Child Mind Institute. Some of the windows offer an immersive experience with the scent of pine, evergreen and peppermint floating through the air.

Pro tip: Be sure to walk on the Lexington Avenue side of the building.

Tourists and New Yorkers admire the holiday decorations and lights on Saks Fifth Avenue.
Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

Scissors Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue (at 49th Street)

Saks Fifth Avenue has wonderful windows, often with a family movie theme. In recent years, themes have included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Frozen 2. Last year’s theme was This is how we celebrate which expressed the new ways of gathering and celebrating that were created by humans during the pandemic. Saks usually does a 2- or 3-minute light show on the 10-story building. It is best seen in the evening. Previously, Saks had a very crowded party where it revealed the windows. Last year, they chose to do 20 smaller lighting ceremonies.

Holiday Window in Bergdorf Goodman, NYC.
Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com

4. Bergdorf Goodman, 745 Fifth Avenue

Bergdorfs is a good stop on the window’s exhibition path. Bergdorf’s often celebrates New York and the spirit of giving. Four years ago, Bergdorf’s made our favorite windows – To New York with love. It featured cultural institutions from across the city. The theme in 2020 was Bergdorf goodness which was done in partnership with City Harvest and focused on values ​​including harmony, equality, unity and kindness.

Pro tip: Go into Bergdorf’s to see what surprises can be found (and to shop).

Holiday window show at Tiffany, NYC.
Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com

5. Tiffany & Co., 6 E. 57th Street

Tiffany’s windows are beautiful and iconic at any time of the year, but especially for Christmas. Whether you plan to shop at Tiffany’s or not, it’s worth a holiday visit to look at the beautiful jewelery and see the window displays.

Pro tip: Tiffany’s moved last year around the corner from the original flagship location at 727 Fifth Avenue. It now has a nice and large curved window for the exhibition.

Storefront in Manhattan, New York, decorated for Christmas, New York City.
Jose Luis Vega / Shutterstock.com

6. Cartier, 653 5th Avenue

While looking at jewelry, look past Cartier. The tradition at Cartier is to wrap the building in a large red bow. It also has flags that show the season’s greetings in many languages. Last year, a white panther stood in the window and wrapped around the ribbon.

7. Louis Vuitton, 1 East 57th Street

The Louis Vuitton flagship store is amazing at any time of the year, but it pulls the stops for the holiday season. Last year’s exhibition showed a 10+ storey Christmas tree on the building’s facade. In 2018 it did Trees around the world everything decorated for the holidays. Imagine a cactus, palm tree, bonsai tree decorated for the season. We look forward to seeing what the store has been dreaming of this year.

Pro tip: You can see this screen at any time of the day, but we prefer to see it in the evening.

Rockefeller Christmas tree.
Sue Davies / Travel for Life Now

8. American Girl, 75 Rockefeller Plaza

The American Girl team hosts holiday shows in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The window in New York is very large – 15 feet high and 24 feet wide. It used 15,000 fairytale lights in the display. Last year, American Girl teamed up with Swarovski to create a beautiful display with 350 Swarovski crystal wires and 130 pounds of crystal star dust. It also sold a $ 5,000 Swarovski American Girls Doll with 5,000 Swarovski crystals and pearls.

Christmas lights at the World Trade Center.
Sue Davies / Travel for Life Now

9. World Trade Center lights (views from Fulton and Church Streets)

One of the newer places to see holiday lights on windows is the World Trade Center. Pictures of giant gifts, ornaments, reindeer and more are displayed on the building. These are seen at night from near Oculus to The Shops at The Oculus (also called Westfield). While you are there, you can walk into Oculus, which also has a holiday market and lovely lighting and exhibits.

Pro tip: The World Trade Center light is best seen at night. If you want to explore further, take the underground passage to Brookfield Mall for more shopping and holiday exhibits. You will find the passage when you go towards the PATH trains on the right hand side. You can also look past the concierge and ask for directions.

10. Hudson Yards, between West 30th and 34th Street from 10th to 12th Avenue

Hudson Yards opened in 2019 and has become a holiday destination (and year-round) with performances and wonderful Christmas and holiday exhibits. You can spend hours hiking in the area – see The vessel, enjoys performances, sees outdoor art exhibitions and walks into the shops. There is so much to do at Hudson Yards that you can spend all day there.

Christmas and Holiday Windows Pro Tips

The windows begin to be revealed in mid to late November. Most are up until just after New Year’s Day. However, there are variations, so be sure to check the store’s website before planning a trip.

You can try to do all these shops in 1 day or night, but we do not recommend doing it. It is best to place it out and combine it with other activities.

The World Trade Center, Louis Vuitton, Saks and Cartier are best made when it’s dark.

We love walking in the city, so walking 50-60 streets in a day is the normal way we get around. You can take subways, buses or taxis to get around to see these exhibits. New York City is notorious for traffic and gridlock during the holidays, so subways are much faster than buses or cars.

The lights in the financial district (World Trade Center, Oculus and Brookfield Place) can be seen in the late afternoon. You can combine that with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. We prefer to visit the reflective pools at night when they are peaceful and allow for reflection. Or you can combine it with a trip to the Freedom Tower (aka World Trade Center).

Another option is to make a midtown / eastside loop that starts at Macy’s (on 34th and 6th avenues), goes east to 5th Avenue and goes up from 34th Street to 59th Street. You can then head east to Bloomingdales on 3rd Avenue.

A third option is to walk up 6th Avenue from Macy’s and 34th Street to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and American Girl. On this route you will also pass the Empire State Building and one of the largest holiday markets in the city at Bryant Park.

If you are a hiker, then you can combine 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue walks. Head north on 6th Avenue from Macy’s to Rockefeller Center, then cross east onto 5th Avenue and head north up 59th Street.

See one Christmas window or see all 10. Explore and find other windows that you love. Whatever you decide to do, New York is a great place to celebrate the holiday.

While in New York City, check out some of the other exciting things to do:

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