How to See New York City’s Famous Holiday Windows Up Close (and For Free)
Google just made your holidays a little brighter.
More than five million people visit New York City’s iconic department stores to see the holiday window displays. But if you’ve visited Midtown Manhattan in December, you know that this holiday tradition can be a nightmare. You crawl from window to window, pushed and pulled by other tourists who love to block your view, leaving you unable to ogle at the beautiful details. But what if you could stroll down Madison and Fifth Avenue, no one in sight?
Earlier this month, Google released a new online VR app that lets you take in the storefronts without braving the cold and the crowds. Using the tech company’s Window Wonderland, you can now tour some of the biggest stores’ holiday displays this year, using your smartphone (and an optional VR display).
The app features high-resolution panoramas of each window. So, go ahead: Scroll at your pace, zoom in to get closer look at those eye-catching details—no one is going to yell “keep moving!” The 18 featured stores include American Girl, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., and more. Select stores also feature audio guides with the store’s creative director, explaining the creation of the window.
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Access the free app via your smartphone—or use a VR headset like Google Cardboard for an immersive experience. The VR version even includes the sights and sounds of the real window (but none of the pushy tourists).
Feel inspired to amp up your own holiday window display? Here, 8 smart tips to steal from professional holiday window decorators.