Holiday shopping in NYC can be nightmarish at times, especially if your gift list forces you to fight the current of the tourist-packed stream known as Fifth Avenue. But there’s an upside to navigating these painfully busy streets at this time of year: You get to peep department stores' ornate Christmas window displays. In fact, some of them are so impressive, they might be reason enough to stroll through midtown. (Just wait till the out-of-towners have gone to bed.)
RECOMMENDED: See the full Christmas in New York guide
Christmas window displays in New York
Bergdorf’s displays are going all-out on Swarovski this year in honor of the crystal maker’s 120th anniversary. More than 7 million Swarovskis were used to create the display, with each window presenting a different crystalline theme: a prismatic cave, bedazzled suits of armor and life-size lions and a birthday ballroom with every cake and gift coated in crystals.
November 17–January 4Read more
The gargantuan retailer kicks off this year’s holiday displays with a performance by Sara Bareilles, who’ll be belting out tunes she wrote for the new musical Waitress. The windows themselves will focus on the theme of perceiving the holidays through the various senses and include mirrored sculptures and floral displays from world-renowned florist Jeff Leatham.November 18–January 4
The windows aren’t large enough to hold this year’s holiday display; the illustrations and decorations spread across the facade and through the entire store. An extravaganza of lights 40 feet high decorates the front of the store. The shop’s main window features a Parisian apartment-inspired display, and the atrium holds a two-story tree with giant versions of Bendel’s holiday ornaments. Drawings by longtime collaborator Izak Zenou are scattered throughout the store.
November 17–January 4Read more
Singer-songwriter Austin Mahone helps reveal this year’s holiday display, performing during an opening event that celebrates and supports the store’s new partnership with Habitat for Humanity New York City. This is the 78th year that the Fifth Avenue retailer has created animated displays that, as it says, are the store’s gift back to the city it calls home.
November 12–January 6Read more
In honor of a big year for Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang—on top of their new film, it’s the 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”—Macy’s is dedicating its window displays this year to Charles Schultz’s cartoon creations. Each of the store’s six Broadway-facing windows hosts a display depicting the holiday adventures of the Peanuts crew.
November 20–January 4Read more
For 2015, Saks is filling its windows with wintery versions of some of the world’s greatest natural and man-made wonders—an icy Colosseum, a snowy Great Wall of China, a frozen Great Barrier Reef (complete with a very cold mermaid). On top of that, it's transformed the entire front facade of the store into a winter palace complete with crystal spires and a light show involving more than 225,000 illuminated elements.
November 23–January 4Read more
The jewelry institution flashes back to the 19th century for this year’s holiday displays, with each window depicting a fairy-tale–like winter diorama. Look closely, and you’ll find a tree covered in Tiffany designs, a bow bridge, a gift-laden mantelpiece and a broad assortment of porcelain animals and people. And the whole exterior of the store is part of the show—it’ll host an eye-popping light show inspired by the Tiffany diamond’s display at the 1939 World’s Fair.
December 13–early JanuaryRead more