Holiday window displays light up New York, Philadelphia and London

Here’s a shopping spree at some of the world’s finest retailers that won’t cost you a dime: viewing holiday displays in store windows. The only thing you’ll spend is time.

Think of fancy store windows as a sort of early television, although they were really a way of selling, according to the 1924 book “Window Dressing: The Principles of Display” by G.L. Timmins. That tome seems quaint at times (“lady window trimmers” probably aren’t going to be successful) and an eerily prescient peek at modern merchandising at others.

“About 1835, London had a number of show windows of small glass panes, but very little thought was then given to window dressing,” it says. “About 1838, London’s first plate glass windows were installed and this gave rise to further attempts at window dressing.”

By the early 20th century, holiday windows had hopped the pond, and New York City’s displays began catching the public’s attention — and affection.


Although NYC & Co., the city’s tourism, doesn’t track how many people visit just to see displays, it does note that about 5 million people visit the city between Thanksgiving and Christmas to see the holiday sights.

That could explain why, if you were going this weekend, you’d pay $315 a night for a room at the Hampton Inn 59 West 35th St. for a Dec. 12-14 stay but $144 for a Jan. 9-11 stay.

Window displays this year touch on such themes as Santa’s solar system journey (Macy’s) and fairy tales at Saks.

If you aren’t there in person, take a gander at our photo gallery, which also includes photos from Philadelphia and London.


If you’re headed that way, follow this window walking tour guide.

No cost. No work. Now that’s a gift.

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