Holiday Central

New York City's holiday windows light up the streets


New York City's holiday windows

Macy's 2015 holiday window display at Macy's in Herald Square.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

If over-the-top experiences are truly the pathway to getting shoppers into stores, New York City's holiday windows shouldn't disappoint.

As much a tradition as the Rockefeller Center tree lighting, taking place Wednesday, these windows have come to symbolize a piece of the retail landscape that can't be replicated online. So as Web sales continue to grab a larger share of overall retail revenue, their importance arguably grows with each passing year.

While several stores have been decorating their windows for decades — and some, more than a century — they can still attract a crowd. During its busiest times, Macy's said more than 10,000 people will pass by its windows in a given hour.

But even as these displays bring a sense of nostalgia to U.S. shoppers, that doesn't mean they are free of digital's influence. Instead, traditional retailers are incorporating technology into their storefronts, including interactive displays and light shows.

Click ahead for a glimpse of retailers' holiday window displays for the 2015 season.

—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson
Posted 02 Dec. 2015

Bergdorf Goodman's 'brilliant' holiday

A holiday window display at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

As if Bergdorf Goodman wasn't luxurious enough on its own, the high-end department store partnered with Swarovski for its Fifth Avenue "brilliant holiday" displays.

Each window illustrates a different scene: "The Crown Jewels" features crystallized suits of armor; "The Crystal Cavern," an amethyst cave; "The Treasure Chest," a sculpture of Neptune; and "The Crystal Ball" (seen here), a fortune teller's lair.

Saks' winter palace

This years Saks Fifth Avenue themed windows focused on the "Ice Wonders of the World".
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

From the Roman Colosseum to the Great Wall of China, Saks this season put a wintry touch on the world's wonders.

The luxury department store also pulled together more than 225,000 points of light on its facade, for a 2 ½ minute light show that recurs every 10 minutes.

Celebrating 120 years of Henri Bendel

A woman walks past the holiday window display at Henri Bendel on 5th Avenue in New York. 
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

In a nod to Henri Bendel's 120th holiday season, the high-end specialty shop tapped into the creations of its longtime fashion illustrator, Izak Zenou.

The main window channels a Parisian apartment, including a fireplace and chandelier. Those surrounding the main entryway (seen here) feature frames that highlight the accessories inside. Four stories of lights cover the building's exterior, as the shop's famous two-story tree sits decorated inside.

Lord & Taylor's charitable contribution

Holiday window display at Lord & Taylor's.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Lord & Taylor's holiday windows aren't just about adding sparkle to New York City's storefronts. The retailer joined forces with Habitat for Humanity New York City at its kickoff event, which served as a precursor to a partnership between the two for 2016.

The department store said this is the 78th year in which its windows are not commercial, and are instead meant to be a "gift to the city."

"Lord & Taylor has a history of giving back to its communities, and what better way to give back to New York City than to help Habitat for Humanity rebuild a home for a family in need?" President Liz Rodbell said.

Barneys brings you behind the scenes

Barney's holiday windows have an actual ice sculptor carve out holiday themed works of art in a refrigerated window display.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Ever wonder how those beautiful ice sculptures are created? Now you don't have to. Barneys brings you face to face with the artists behind these creations, featuring ice carving performances in its windows seven days a week.

Other windows include a "winter brilliance" scene that features more than 700 handblown glass elements — giving it the appearance of ice crystals that are frozen in middair — and a translucent race course.

Macy's goes 'Peanuts'

A Peanuts themed Charlie Brown Christmas window displayed at Macy's in Herald Square.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the "Peanuts" gang are celebrating the 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" at Macy's.

The department store's windows fuse together these nostalgic characters with modern technology, including a giant glass keyboard that shoppers can play to control the keys on Schroeder's piano.

Bloomingdale's flower power

Bloombingdale's holiday window display incorporates penguins taking your photo.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The holiday windows at Bloomingdale's were designed to encourage shoppers to experience the holidays through all five senses. The department store's windows, designed by florist Jeff Leatham, feature floral displays and mirrored sculptures, like these two penguins.

Tiffany's luxurious heritage

A holiday window display at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Tiffany tapped into its roots as an American luxury brand for its holiday windows, which were inspired by the miniature theaters of the 1800s. They feature winter scenes infused with the company's signature shade of blue — and, of course, its bling.