Tour de Christmas 2011: In which I share photos (and videos!) of NYC Holiday displays

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. Today, Christmas Eve, is arguably one of my favorite days of the entire year including other holidays and my own birthday (Christmas day is probably my favorite). One of the best things about the holiday season is spreading good cheer and giving gifts.

In the spirit of giving, I have some fun things to share in this blog post.

Earlier this month my friend Nicole (AKA The Book Bandit) and I took a day to look at what I deemed all of the noteworthy holiday trees and window displays to be had in Manhattan. There were multiple modes of transportation, maps, and itineraries involved but the end result was a really fun slice of holiday cheer in something I’m calling the Tour de Christmas. I fully expect to make the Tour de Christmas an annual part of my holiday activity.

And, now, I also plan on sharing some of the fun with you, dear readers.

To begin the Tour we first had to get to 81st Street.

American Museum of Natural History: Origami Tree

After a trip through the maze-like lower level and first floor of the museum, Nicole and I found the giant canoe that shares space with the museum’s origami tree during the holiday season. The tree is filled with origami animals every year (previously it had just been cranes but this year there was a whole assortment of animals and even key pieces from museum exhibits).

Even the base of the tree had some fun origami art:

An important part of the Tour de Christmas is documenting the sights as well as posing with them.

After leaving the Museum of Natural History we moved crosstown through Central Park to

The Metropolitan Museum: Angel Tree

The Met’s tree is enormous and has point of place in the museum’s Renaissance Wing for the entire holiday. The tree is well-known for its beautiful 18th Century angel ornaments as well as the creche that surrounds the base of the tree.

Because the tree is in a section of the museum that is always kept dark to preserve the historic items on display (and perhaps because much of the Met’s gift shop items around this time of year document the tree), photography is not allowed. I, however, may or may not have very carefully ignored that rule to take a very quick shot of the tree with my iPhone.

Upon leaving the Met this year’s Tour was a straight shot down Fifth Avenue.

FAO Schwarz: Fifth Avenue at 58th Street

FAO is fun most times of year but they did have a special Lionel Train display set up for Christmas:

Conveniently located directly across the street from FAO is Bergdorf Goodman.

Bergdorf Goodman: Fifth Avenue at 58th Street

While I have never stepped inside Bergdorf, I make it a point to check out their holiday windows annually. Every year the store has a different theme and creates stunning, artistic windows in the spirit of that theme. This year’s theme was Carnival of the Animals. I took about a million pictures of theses windows because they were all so fantastic but here are some of my favorites:

This one (above) was made entirely of paper and features a Boston Terrier in the lower left.

I really loved both of their “all white” windows this year.

This one (above) has lots of metal items. It felt very steampunk to me with the flapper-esque mannequin and coppery tones.

One of Bergdorf’s last window’s didn’t relate directly to the others (sometimes with smaller or sides street windows the store does something slightly different). I’d be hardpressed to pick any one as my favorite but I really enjoyed this tall lady and her giraffe:

Originally Bergdorf was the last stop until Rockefeller Center at 50th Street. But then something caught our eyes across the street.

Tiffany & Co: Fifth Avenue at 57th Street

Although the actual windows were tiny, Tiffany went all out with a carousel theme in their windows that even extended to the exterior of the store. Inside each carousel-like marquis was a window display (several of which were animated) bordered with mirrors.

If you are so inclined, you can also watch my recording of the Tiffany windows to see what they look like animated. (This adventure was my first ever experiment with making and editing videos so you’ve been warned!)

After Tiffany’s it was a quick trip down Fifth Avenue, past the Cartier building wrapped up in its famous bow, to get to our next stop.

Rockefeller Center: Fifth Avenue at 50th Street

We took about a million pictures of New York’s most famous tree because it was really exciting to be there aside from being quite good looking this year. But really it just takes one to see the magic of the place:

And, because I can, one more view of the plaza facing away from the tree which proved to be an excellent spot to pose for photos. (We had to wait about ten minutes for our turn.)

Having photographed the Rockefeller Center Tree from every possible angel numerous times, we were ready for to cross the street.

Saks Fifth Avenue: Fifth Avenue at 49th Street

Except for this one, sad, photo the Saks windows were actually moving too fast to photograph with any degree of quality. I did, however, make a video of all of the Saks Christmas windows to document their frenetic animation.

After that it was time to head farther down to the next stop on the Tour de Christmas.

Lord & Taylor: Fifth Avenue at 38th Street

Fun Fact: Lord & Taylor is the only store in New York City (at least the only one that does holiday windows–maybe the only one period) that has moveable windows. Instead of having to crawl inside the displays to install the sets and figures, Lord & Taylor window designers can lower the windows into the basement of the store to install the windows. For this reason, and perhaps because the designers are awesome, Lord & Taylor always has really beautiful, well-realized windows. This year was no exception.

Each of the windows looked at what Christmas was made of (as seen by children whose drawings framed each animated window display):

By this point I was finally getting the hang of my video camera. So you are welcome to view my video of the Lord & Taylor Christmas windows.

Lord & Taylor was the penultimate stop on the inaugural Tour de Christmas. For anyone who has ever seen Miracle on 34th Street, the Tour’s last stop will probably not be a surprise.

Macy’s: Herald Square

Macy’s windows are sometimes wonderful and sometimes just bizarre. This year, happily, they were delightful. The windows were bright and sparkly (not to mention a little bit steampunk!) and told a clever story of the journey ornaments take.

As you can probably imagine, I also made a video of these windows for your viewing pleasure.

With all of the trees documented, and all of the windows viewed, there was nothing left to do but call it a day and declare my first ever Tour de Christmas a success.

I hope this post finds  everyone in good health and high spirits whether you celebrate Christmas or a different holiday entirely (or perhaps even several at once). Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you, dear readers.

If you would like to see all of my photos from the Tour de Christmas 2011, you can find them on my website.

For your convenience here, again, are the video links:

Tiffany’s 2011 Holiday Windows

Saks’ 2011 Holiday Windows

Lord & Taylor’s 2011 Holiday Windows

Macy’s 2011 Holiday Windows

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