The holiday season in Manhattan…oh, what picturesque dream! There’s the tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skating in Central Park, and the holiday fair at Grand Central Station. And then there are the magnificent holiday windows. You’ll want to try and catch them all, until the icy wind and crowds force you to seek sanctuary, perhaps with a hot chocolate and a book. (Try L.A. Burdick at 5 East 20th Street for an intense brew.) But how to navigate all the fabulous windows, which are often more spectacular (to say nothing of more affordable) than what’s behind them? Follow our tried-and-true definitive guide to holiday window shopping to catch the best of them before ending up in a snuggly Hilton hotel bedroom watching snowflakes fall onto Midtown. Let’s get started.

Bloomingdale’s

1000 Third Avenue

Start your trip with a New York classic, at the famous Bloomingdale’s, founded in 1861 when the hoop skirt was still a thing. Their window theme this year is “Lights Up a Young Mind,” and features gorgeous interpretations of the word ‘light’ from a slew of talented visual artists, each creating “chandeliers” of sorts that glitter onto the streets of the Upper East Side.


bloomingdales-option-2

Barney’s

660 Madison Avenue

Barney’s is famous as the art canvass for window dresser extraordinaire, Simon Doonan, who’s also an ambassador-at-large for the store. This year his creative team designed their displays centered on the theme of “Love, Peace, and Joy” — three things we all want during the holidays. Artists interpreted these timeless ideas into tableaux such a South Park-themed window complete with meta observations like “Getting clothes for Christmas is the worst! And you know what’s worse than clothes? Expensive clothes. It’s like, seriously. What a waste of money.” That kind of humor is oh-so-New York.


barneys

Bergdorf Goodman

754 5th Avenue

The windows of Bergdorf are perhaps our favorite this year: dreamy landscapes in highly-stylized, lavishly colorful worlds representing a wide array of destinations. Each features the collection of a different designer with everyone from Marc Jacobs resort to custom CD Greene represented.


bergdorf

Saks Fifth Avenue

611 5th Avenue

Saks has gone the classic route this year with a sugary twist: they’re portraying high-fashion Nutcracker characters (in designer garb, natch) drifting through a fantastical candy-composed dreamscape.


saks-fifth-avenue

Lord & Taylor

424 5th Avenue

It’s Wes Anderson meets Beatrix Potter at venerable Lord & Taylor, which has dancing raccoons, ice skating rabbits, and a polar bear as part of the store’s fantastical approach to window displays. Animated animals in glittering, snowy forests cast their light onto the concrete of Fifth Avenue, and the windows are enshrouded in glittering faux green that gives the whole scene a very cozy feel.

Macy’s

151 W 34th St

The final stop on our walking tour is Macy’s, in Herald Square, which decorated its windows to give a sense of warm, childlike wonder. Six words span across the top of the displays in curly gold lettering: believe, celebrate, together, giving, love, and magic. And watching New Yorkers and tourists alike grin at the fantastical scenes on the other side of the glass, it certainly does feel like a piece of Christmas magic.


macys

Hilton Times Square
By now, you’re full of Christmas cheer and ready to warm up your toes and sip a hot drink. Luckily, Manhattan’s geography lends itself perfectly to some rest and relaxation at Hilton Times Square, mere blocks from the end of our window walking tour.

You may also like ~

NYC’s Best Spots for Holiday Cocktails

Your Holiday Gift Guide for that Special Someone

10 Best Things to Do in NYC for the Holidays

Take Our 2016 Holiday Etiquette Quiz