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The holiday season comes with plenty of joyous traditions. From the smell of sugar cookies wafting out of kitchens to the sound of infectious laughter from children playing in the snow, the season is a pure delight of the senses. But, there’s one more sense you need to indulge during the most wonderful time of year. And that is your sense of sight by checking out all the stunning holiday window displays across the globe.
In every corner of the world, from the stores along New York City’s Fifth Avenue to their counterparts in Paris, the window displays of the best department stores around are nothing short of a holiday miracle. Here is just a small selection of some of the best window displays in five major holiday cities.
New York City
Bergdorf Goodman, Fifth Avenue
To celebrate the most important retail season of the year Bergdorf Goodman goes all out. David Hoey, senior director of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, told The New York Times in 2018 that the annual display is a year in the making. Though the store never reveals its theme before the curtain comes down, you still have time to plan a trip to see them yourself. Expect the windows to go live in mid-November.
Cartier, Fifth Avenue
For a sparkly display head a few blocks down to check out the holiday windows at Cartier. During the season, the store not only displays some of its best jewels, but it also puts together a mini show to delight window shoppers of all ages. Expect the display to include lots of Cartier red, and expect it to go live sometime in November.
Macy’s, 34th and 35th Street
If anyone can be called the King of holiday window displays, it has to be Macy's. Each year, the store decorates two sets of windows, one on Broadway between 34th and 35th streets, and another along 34th Street. According to reports, up to 10,000 people pass by the windows each hour during the holiday season. Make sure you’re one of them by booking a trip to New York City now.
Galeries Lafayette, 40 boulevard Haussmann
The department store Galeries Lafayette is already buzzing with excitement for the holiday season. That’s because it’s already revealed its holiday window display theme: The Beehive. According to reports, the display will include 11 scenes and 14 new characters. The store hasn’t released its launch date yet, but surely its windows will be as sweet as honey once they are revealed.
Printemps, 64 boulevard Haussmann
Printemps Haussmann has 11 glorious windows to deck with holly each Christmas season. Each year, the store meticulously designs an interactive story that includes a few of its distinguished brands, including Balmain, Chopard, Louis Vuitton, and more. Expect the windows to go on display in early November.
Bon Marche, 24 rue de Sèvres
Bon Marche likes to twist old holiday traditions with new-school technology. Last year, the Paris institution had a Christmas tree theme, But rather than use traditional presents, the store laid out some unusual gifts under each and every tree, including toys, treasures, and knick-knacks you can buy in-store.
As the most famous department store in London, Harrods has a lot of pressure to live up to each holiday season. Luckily, the team of dedicated and talented merchandisers and designers never disappoints. Last year, Alexander Wells-Greco, head of visual merchandising at Harrods, explained to Elite Traveler that the team raised the windows by 23 inches “to continue to engage with families – children in particular.” He noted, “To achieve this, we raised the windows by 60 cm to create the underfloor theatre scenes of Christmas mice preparing for the festivities, installed directly at a child’s eye level.” Children (and children at heart) will surely be delighted with this year’s display, too.
Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly
Why let clothes and jewelry have all the fun? This holiday season stop by London’s famed foodstuff store. Each year, the store designs and displays its confectionary delights paired with over-the-top decorations to tell a unique story. See if you can walk by the display—even once—without being tempted to go inside for a sweet treat and a hot cup of tea.
Selfridges, Oxford Street
Selfridges likes to ring in the holiday season as early as possible. In 2018, the store unveiled its windows in mid-October. The 2018 windows took some 500 employees to put together and included some 85,000 Christmas decorations, three miles of garland, more than a ton of mirror balls, and more. And, as one of London’s most famous destinations, odds are the team will try to out-do itself again this year, too.
Brown Thomas, Grafton Street
The glitziest place to be in Dublin during the holidays is right outside the Brown Thomas windows. The department store is also a fan of kicking off the holidays a bit early, as it typically unveils its windows sometime in October. The department store also uses mostly Irish designers for its display, making it a highly local show that all visitors must-see.
Arnotts, Henry Street
All the windows on this list take a year’s worth of time and energy to complete. And Arnotts is no exception. But, beyond just dropping a curtain to unveil a window, Arnotts likes to take things a step further by unveiling their windows with a massive show. In 2018, the store showed off its “old Hollywood glamour” theme with a Broadway-level performance right out front. “We spend a year planning and creating the window displays to make them truly memorable and eye-catching,” John Redmond, Creative Director at Brown Thomas said.
Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre
Harvey Nichols may have been founded in London in 1831, but it’s now become a beloved Dublin shopping spot as well. During the holidays, Harvey Nichols stores are transformed into a winter wonderland, filled with goodies you can actually go purchase inside for the people you love most. Just make sure they’re on your “nice” list to deserve a gift this great.
Hudson's Bay, 176 Yonge Street
Hudson’s Bay is another department giant that isn’t content with just a few windows. Each year, the store unveils its windows with a big, splashy show as well. In 2018, that meant taking to the streets out front with a performance by Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen. Following the window unveiling guests are invited to come in, shop, find a tasty treat, and maybe sit down with Santa for a minute or two.
Saks 176 Yonge Street
For more holiday fun in Toronto, you don’t have to travel far. That’s because Saks is located directly next to Hudson’s Bay. It too unveils its windows in mid-November, ringing in the season with all the high-end style you’d expect. Since 2016, Saks has unveiled its windows alongside Hudson’s Bay, so expect the two stores to join forces again this year, too.
Holt Renfrew, 50 Bloor Street West
If you’re visiting Toronto during the holiday season and don’t plan a stop outside Holt Renfrew’s holiday windows, did you even really visit at all? The Canadian department store is more than 180 years old. And with all those years comes plenty of expertise in how to do holiday window displays just right. In 2018, the store made sure its display of Christmas trees adorned in magenta and gold finishes flowed seamlessly from the window into each floor. Inside, guests can peruse themed gift galleries, and of course, stop for a bit of time with Santa himself. Who knows, he may be able to make all your holiday dreams come true too.