NYC holiday windows alight in 2012

A Macy's holiday window display at Herald Square

A Macy's holiday window display at Herald Square in Manhattan. (Nov. 24, 2012) (Credit: Natan Dvir)

No matter how many times you've seen them, midtown Manhattan's holiday window displays are guaranteed to de-Scrooge even the most cynical among us. For a quickie drive-by, Gray Line New York's two-hour "Holiday Lights" tour (adults $44, kids $34, newyorksightseeing.com) hits the major twinkly sites after 6 p.m., including Rockefeller Center, Times Square and Central Park's Tavern on the Green. But to see department store animatronics up close, you've got to hoof it.

MACY'S

The first department store to feature Christmas windows (since the 1870s). This year marks the third annual salute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation's work with seriously ill kids. The Chrysler Building, Radio City Rockettes and more co-star in this Gotham wintry wonderland.

WHERE 151 W. 34th St. (at Sixth Avenue)

INFO 212-695-4400, macys.com

LORD & TAYLOR

The first retailer to present animated holiday windows celebrates its 75th anniversary of festive displays. Glimpse revelry across the globe, from alpine bliss (snowy peaks, nutcracker shops) to Santa's hipster hang (where even the wee cater-waiter uniform includes cuffed designer denim -- nice touch).

WHERE 424 Fifth Ave. (at 38th Street)

INFO 212-391-3344, lordandtaylor.com

SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

Don't miss the window with cool chalkboard animation, and the one filled with teeny cameras and laptops that project your face into a snowflaky kaleidoscope. Then, catch the state-of-the-art light show on the building's facade (playing every eight minutes, 5 to 10 p.m., and best viewed from across the street).

WHERE 611 Fifth Ave. (at 49th Street)

INFO 212-753-4000, saks.com

TIFFANY & CO.

Windows here are smaller, and displays depict homes with lucky, lucky residents. But who are these people, leaving Tiffany boxes on the stoop, and diamonds on the staircase? How many times does Mom have to say it: Someone could trip!

WHERE 727 Fifth Ave. (at 57th Street)

INFO 212-755-8000; tiffany.com

BERGDORF GOODMAN

Ziegfeld would have loved this salute to the Jazz Age, with an all-girl orchestra (a la "Some Like It Hot") and the window with millions of white feathers and a fan dancer wearing a fringy Marchesa number.

WHERE 754 Fifth Ave. (at 58th Street)

INFO 212-753-7300, bergdorfgoodman.com

BARNEYS NEW YORK

Disney created a cartoon starring Minnie Mouse in a fantasy stroll down a Paris runway. Look for cartoon cameos of fashionistas such as Sarah Jessica Parker (hanging with Donald Duck) and Goofy (looking studly in an outfit by Balmain).

WHERE 660 Madison Ave. (at 61st Street)

INFO 212-826-8900; barneys.com

BLOOMINGDALE'S

Inspired by the upcoming film "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away," with an interactive component -- onlookers can see their image on a character in the windows and can share the moment with friends by downloading an app. Ahhh, yuletide fun.

WHERE Lexington Avenue (between 59th and 60th streets)

INFO 212-705-2000; bloomingdales.com

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