How Macy’s Holiday Window Displays Come to Life

Holiday time in New York City is undeniably magical. It’s bright, festive and rich in tradition – many for which Macy’s is responsible. One of the traditions people look forward to every year is the Macy’s holiday window displays. More than 10,000 people pass by the windows per peak hour.

Not only are the windows beautifully designed – they also tell a story. This season, Macy’s Herald Square introduced astronaut Sunny the Snowpal in the Broadway window displays, titled “Believe in the Wonder of Giving.”

We heard from Roya Sullivan, national director, Window Presentation, about what it takes to make the storytelling displays come to life.

There’s plenty of history behind the holiday windows – how long has Macy’s been doing them?

Macy’s was the first department store to feature Christmas window displays, and has been enchanting generations of spectators since 1874. The tradition of animated windows began in 1899 at the original 14th Street location.

Can you take us through your planning process?

Each Christmas window display is a project nearly a year in the making, as plans for the next year's windows begin in January – almost immediately after the prior year’s windows are taken down.

It takes a dedicated team of more than 200 of Santa's helpers to bring the windows to life including Macy's display artists, graphic artists, sculptural artists, animators, carpenters, electricians, and music and sound experts.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I’m inspired by art, theater, fashion and visual installations – both indoor and outdoor.

I’m always looking for experiences where a memory is created. My main goal is to create an experience for our audience and for them to retain the memory in a way that compels them to bring their friends and family to experience it year after year.

Can you tell us more about this year’s theme?

We love to tell a new Christmas story in the windows each year, and I am excited to share Sunny’s adventure with our visitors. The windows are set in space, but the gifts of friendship and family are universal. We hope guests of all ages will find holiday joy reflected in our windows.

Tell us about one of your favorite moments when putting the windows together.

My favorite times are the beginning of the brainstorming weeks and the night of the unveiling, after my team has gone home.

The excitement of coming up with a new theme and formulating the idea always feels like a rebirth.

Then, after the 11 months of building and installing, we have a great unveiling, which is fun and very satisfying. But the most special time is when I return late in the evening and see the customers so giddy (like Christmas morning) looking at the windows and enjoying the story. I watch them smile and I know we touched them.

Here’s a look at the final Herald Square windows from their reveal on Nov. 15.:

But wait, there’s more to come! We're unveiling holiday windows across the nation – check back soon for more photos to enjoy.


Like what you’ve just read? Sign up for regular updates from Coast to Coast delivered right to your inbox!

What are your thoughts on this article?
  Share Your Feedback