For over 140 years the window displays in New York City have been a staple of the Christmas season. The window displays have grown a cult following of Christmas connoisseurs who follow them with the same level of enthusiasm as tree lighting ceremonies or holiday market pop-ups,
And in a city as big as New York, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with so much to see. That’s why I’ve developed this list of the best window displays in NYC (all centrally located in Manhattan).
Whether you’re doing some window shopping or taking a casual stroll through the city, below I’ll outline the best window displays in NYC that are worth the pit-stop. Why don’t we dive right in!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
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Tips for visiting NYC in winter
- Bring winter shoes: It’s no secret that winter in New York City is cold, and the most miserable place to be cold is in your toes. I recommend insulated/waterproof boots (here’s the pair I live in) and the only wool socks you’ll need.
- Bring lip balm & moisturizer: Winters in New York City are dry and cold. Add the raging industrial heaters to the mix and you’re bound to need quality lip balm and moisturizer. Lip balm is a personal thing, but if helpful, here’s the best one I’ve found to date (and it’s cheap!).
- Portable charger: Cold weather depletes batteries (both cellphones and camera) quicker than you’d expect, so when heading out for the day make sure you’re at full charge and pick up one of these.
History of holiday window displays in NYC
Macy’s is credited as the first department store to set up window displays in New York City during the early 1870’s. It didn’t take long for other stores to notice and begin implanting similar tactics to try to attract larger crowds.
With the turn of the century stores aimed to bring in the crowds from outside the store inside. Thus on top of making the displays just pretty to look at – they began showcasing brands and items sold at the store.
As more department stores started setting up window displays a bit of friendly competition broke out. The stores began investing more money and hiring teams to design the best window displays in NYC.
Robotic figures, bright lights and vibrant colors have all become of the million dollar industry. Some department stores (like Macy’s) claim to spend nearly a year thinking and preparing for each upcoming holiday season.
All this to say, window displays in New York City have transformed from eye-candy into a real business that generates millions of dollars in revenue for their companies. The real winners though are the pedestrians who don’t have to spend a dime to see the intricate displays.
Best Holiday Window Displays New York City
Saks Fifth Avenue
The crown jewel of holiday window displays in New York City has to be Saks Fifth Avenue. The luxury store brings its opulence from inside the store out onto the street in an extravagant display of lights.
The facade of the building is transformed into a canvas for their holiday light show, which plays in tandem with classic Christmas music. The experience takes the New York City holiday spirit to a whole new level!
The magical Christmas light show plays at regular 10-minute intervals from 5pm to 11pm, nightly.
Stick around and enjoy a few rounds, but prepare for crazy crowds because this is one of the most popular window displays in New York City.
For those with the time (and budget) Saks Fifth Avenue also offers private tours of their beloved NYC window displays. For $5,000 guests can take a peek behind the curtain and learn how the dazzling displays are made.
Address: 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
Macy’s Herald Square
Visiting the Macy’s holiday window displays in New York City is a non-negotiable. Considering the store covers an entire city block and spans more than 1.1 million square feet, I’d say it’s a big attraction.
This year the theme for the window displays is Give Love. Therefore the displays showcase Tiptoe (Macy’s holiday mascot, a reindeer) visiting her friends on different worlds spreading holiday cheer.
Among the worlds Tiptoe visits are flannel world, yarn world and mirror world (which is a nod to New Years Eve). The popular NYC holiday window displays are up until January 1st, so be sure to swing by this season.
Further reading: Macy’s Herald Square also transforms one of their floors into a winter wonderland complete with elves and Santa. Interested? Check out our Complete Guide to Macy’s Santaland NYC.
Address: 151 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001
Bergdorf Goodman’s 2022 holiday window displays in New York City have a theme titled, Magic in the Making, so the store’s seven windows each display a different craft.
There are windows dedicated to scrapbooking, metal craft, paper maché, and dress making (among others) that share an impressive attention to detail.
Take a step back to get the full picture, but still come in close to catch all the details. Even after analyzing a window for a minute don’t be surprised if you miss a little feature or attribute.
Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday window displays in New York City have become such a seasonal staple that they even have a published book. For $250 you can get a coffee-table book that highlights some of their most popular displays.
Address: 754 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019
If you’re looking for the best window displays in New York City for your little ones consider making a pit-stop at the American Girl store.
From the faux snow to the American Girl dolls playing in their winter gear, it’s enough to wow imaginative children. Plus – if you happen to walk by after the sun goes down the twinkling lights add an extra sense of magic.
Afterwards you can take your little one into the store for a souvenir they’ll have for years. American Girl dolls are collectible items that even adults obsess over. Take advantage and pick up a limited edition winter doll after enjoying some of the best window displays in New York City.
Address: 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019
This is a special year for Bloomingdales, they are celebrating their 150th anniversary! In light of the special occasion Bloomingdale’s has unveiled some of the best holiday window displays in New York City.
One of the windows features a giant, golden sewing machine which can be seen as a symbol of Bloomingdales itself. I mean just think of the hundreds of designs, styles and trends the department store has helped popularize.
The other windows have different fabrics as well as items like dresses that have kept the store in business for more than a century. Add flashing lights and rotating mannequins to the mix and it’s no surprise these are some of the best holiday window displays in NYC.
Address: 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Cartier takes holiday window displays in New York City to a whole new level. Not only do they decorate the windows, but Cartier makes the whole store look like a wrapped-up gift, complete with a bow on top.
It should come as no surprise the luxury jewelry store decorates the way they do. The brand is known for its opulence and elegance, so their holiday decorations are just as stylish.
The best Christmas window displays in New York City add a sense of romance to the city, and Cartier might be the most charming of all. Just walking down 5th Avenue feels like a date night under their bright lights.
Cartier’s signature shade of red becomes extra special come Christmas time. Moreover, it’s hard to tell what sparkles brighter, the lights outside or the diamonds inside!
Address: 653 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
Hudson Yards is a massive mall adjacent to the monolithic art display known as the Vessel. The mall features tons of high-end shops and restaurants.
Although the mall doesn’t necessarily have traditional window displays like other stores in New York City, they still decorate for the holidays in a way that’s second to none.
This is thanks to the fact that Hudson Yards uses over two million Christmas lights when decorating for the occasion.
The holiday decorations at Hudson Yards is called Shine On and rivals the best holiday window displays in New York City. It’s a unique light and music installation that spans the holiday season.
Not to mention, the photo taking opportunities are nothing short of epic. These Christmas decorations will be the true star of the show (no pun intended) in any selfie you take. 😉
Address: 20 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001
Tiffany & Co.
Over their nearly 200 years in business Tiffany & Co. has mastered the art of advertising. That’s why it should come as no surprise their Christmas window displays are some of the best in New York City.
In the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn’s character is drawn into the Tiffany & Co’s window displays in NYC (and if they caught Hepburn’s eye, they’ll catch yours too).
Tiffany & Co. has an advantage in creating the best window displays in New York City since they have an iconic color. The shade of Tiffany blue they use is instantly recognizable and can stop anybody in their tracks.
Furthermore, the shade of Tiffany blue ties into holiday window displays seamlessly because it adds to the winter wonderland vibe. Just sprinkle in some faux snow and you’re all set!
Address: 610 5th Ave, New York, NY 10020
As arguably the most iconic brand in fashion, Louis Vuitton’s Christmas window displays in New York City are impressive to say the least.
Their logo is instantly recognizable and the brand does a great job plastering it wherever they can. Plus, the displays are colorful, popping in contrast to the gray building.
For those that love designer clothing, snapping a photo in front of the Louis Vuitton holiday window displays in New York City is as iconic as a photo with the Statue of Liberty.
Address: 1 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022
Empire State Building
Best known for its observation deck 1,250 feet in the air, the Empire State Building attracts crowds for a different reason during the holiday season.
At its base the iconic NYC building has some of the best holiday window displays in New York City. Since the building is synonymous with NYC the window displays often showcase other famous landmarks.
The Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty have made appearances in the New York City landmark’s holiday window displays.
And while you visit the window displays be sure to pop into the lobby which is open to the public. There is a beautiful Christmas tree and a piano player serenading guests with class Christmas tunes.
Address: 20 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001
Where to find the best window displays in New York City
You may have noticed a lot of the stores listed above are in and around Midtown Manhattan. My suggestion if you’re limited on time is to head to Fifth Avenue and Central Park South and start walking down.
The area around the Rockefeller Center is thick with a lot of the best window displays in New York City. Not to mention, you get to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree (which is one of the best Christmas trees in NYC).
Best window displays in New York City (Post Summary)
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Macy’s Herald Square
- Bergdorf Goodman’s
- American Girl
- Hudson Yards
- Tiffany & Co.
- Louis Vuitton
- Empire State Building
Best holiday window displays in New York City (map)
And there you have it folks, a quick roundup of the best window displays in New York City.