It's a Christmastime tradition for shoppers, New Yorkers and tourists alike: Checking out store windows decorated for the holidays. Many of this year's windows use high-tech displays to showcase traditional stories and symbols of the season.
Digital projectors beam images of translucent white snowflakes and bubbles onto the store's facade. The images interact with the architecture in a magical 21/2 minute light show that takes place every 10 minutes from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. nightly. With a musical score playing in the background, the visual effects include snow gathering on ledges, bubbles emerging from windows, and the building exterior appearing to freeze over.
Where: 611 Fifth Ave. at 49th Street, 212-753-4000, saksfifthave.com
Spectators go on a journey through the eyes of 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon, who wrote to a newspaper in 1897 asking for proof of Santa Claus and got the famous response, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." Each window hosts a theatrical mini-show with scene changes, lighting, video and voice-over.
Where: 151 W. 34th St., 212-695-4400, macys.com
3. Lord & Taylor
Twelve mechanical tableaus illustrate Christmas scenes set in New York City, inspired by favorite memories that customers shared with the store. The theme of the display is "Share the Joy," and the displays include candy canes, wrapped gifts, snowy streets, snowmen, wreath-bedecked homes, Santa's sleigh with reindeer and decorated trees.
Where: 424 Fifth Ave. (at 39th Street), 212-391-3344, lordandtaylor.com
The windows at Bergdorf Goodman were inspired by fantasy travel to far-flung places and are titled "Wish You Were Here." Bergdorf describes the windows as a mash-up of unexpected arrivals and departures, drawing on influences as varied as Roman mythology and the movies.
Where: 754 Fifth Ave. (at 58th Street), 212-753-7300, bergdorfgoodman.com
5. Henri Bendel
These windows were inspired by "The Nutcracker" with a fun, high-fashion twist. The New York City Ballet partnered with the store on the display, which shows a 6-foot-tall female nutcracker and mannequins posed to look like ballerinas from the classic Christmas story.
Where: 712 Fifth Ave. (at 56th Street), 212-247-1100, henribendel.com
At Bloomingdale's, a mosaic of computer-generated animation on 100 digital screens depicts a dreamy winter landscape.
Where: 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, 212-705-2000, bloomingdales.com