It seems that during the holiday season in New York City, more people pilgrimage to the shops on 5th Avenue to gawk at the festive window displays rather than the clothing inside. And rightfully so. Each year, the shops of Fifth Avenue, from FAO Schwartz down to Lord & Taylor light-up the street with colorful and whimsical displays. Here’s our guide on how to enjoy them all:
Starting at Lord & Taylor on 39th St, near Bryant Park, take a look at 2010’s display which features personal stories from shoppers about their holiday, which the store turned into window displays. While you are in the area, pop into the New York Public Library at 42nd St. and peek into their wonderful and eclectic gift shop just beyond the lobby.
Now head north along Fifth. For several blocks you’ll pass many typical High Street stores, like H&M, Sephora and Barnes and Noble before you hit the main thoroughfare of Rockefeller Center. Across from Rockefeller Center is Saks Fifth Avenue, whose 2010 light display you can see above. Make sure as well to take a look at the store’s windows, whose theme matches the light display, Snowflakes and Bubbles.
Once you are at Rockefeller Center of course, you can see the tree and gaze down upon the ice skaters. There are also shops like The Metropolitan Museum of Art store and the newly opened Lego store. Make sure as well to duck into Anthropologie on the north side of the tree. They have dressed-up their interior into a warm, and homemade holiday atmosphere that shouldn’t be missed.
Moving north along 5th Avenue, between 50th and 51st Street, you’ll come to the iconic New York figure of Atlas on the left side of the street by artist Lee Lawrie. Peek inside the doors of Rock Center at the shimmering golden walls and classic Art Deco fixtures. It’s breathtaking. Right across the street, you’ll see the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Don’t be afraid to go in, entrance is free and guests are always welcome.
At the SE corner of 52nd and 5th, you’ll come to Cartier, whose store is wrapped-up like a Christmas gift with a huge, sparkling red bow. At the corner of 53rd and 5th is the second church you’ll pass, St. Thomas, whose impressive interior is also worth a glimpse. One more block up, you come to the University Club, one of a handful of old New York, exclusive and private clubs in Manhattan whose membership is only obtained through a current member’s recommendation.
Moving up the avenue, you’ll pass many high end clothiers such as Armani, Fendi, Escada and Louis Vuitton, who always puts on a trendy holiday display, at the corner of 57th and 5th. Across from Louis Vuitton is the final 5th Avenue holiday window, Bergdorf Goodman whose 2010 theme is ‘Wish You Were Here.’ These windows are the highlight of the season, they never disappoint in being a visual feast, jam packed with elaborate decorations, usually displayed across a wide color palate. The windows wrap around the building to 58th St, across from the Plaza Hotel.
End your walk at FAO Schwartz, directly on 5th Avenue between 58th and 59th streets. Wander around the many alcoves of this toy paradise, which include stations to make your own Muppet and a Harry Potter display.