Christmas window displays 2023: festive theatre and classic winter tales

Whether futuristic fashion modelled by Bauble-head mannequins or festive food with a mind of its own, this year’s Christmas windows displays will not disappoint.

Selfridges, London

Selfridges image credit: Jason Alden Commercial Photographer Andrew Meredith

Showtime is the theme for Selfridges’ festive and theatrical Christmas windows on Oxford Street, London. It took over 100 hours and 50 people to install the windows through which Selfridges wanted to spotlight “true stagecraft and artistry” from different creatives, including artist and costume designer Max Allen.

With Selfridges, Allen created an ensemble of ten Christmas characters, including Santa Claus as stage director, a Christmas tree diva and a stand-up comedy snowman. Every costume was handmade in North London by Allen and a team of product designers and embroiderers, working with fabrics from local haberdashers across the city. The characters’ hairstyles are all by hairstylist Sam McKnight.

Selfridges commissioned specialist painter Queenie Ingrams to hand-paint decorative set-pieces and prop artist Matilda Greenwood to create “larger-than-life” crackers, moons, snow mounds and stars. Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop, one of the oldest toyshops in London, shared archive imagery, which has been reimagined using photo collage to create “a series of dioramas that celebrate the fantasy of stagecraft” in the windows, says Selfridges. The window at the corner of Oxford Street and Orchard Street invites features moving curtains that open and close to reveal a neon-flashing applause sign and gold roses that shower the stage.

Fortnum & Mason, London

Image credit: Fortnum & Mason’s

Fortnum & Mason’s main Piccadilly store in London has unveiled its annual Christmas window display inspired by its 2023 festive campaign, Where Christmas comes Alive. The windows depict Christmas Eve scenes where the store’s favourite festive products come to life to prepare for Christmas Day against a colourful backdrop of Georgian features.

The display starts with a scene of the Fortnum’s building with its windows lit in colour. Fortnum & Mason’s products can be seen partying inside, as streamers fall to the street below and a sleigh pulled by hampers flies over rooftops.

Another window houses the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, with teacups bobbing around a table and cakes dancing on a rotating cake stand. Elsewhere in the display, champagne bottles and flutes make their way down the stairs and around the balustrade in the store’s central atrium, as bottles poke in and out of a huge Christmas tree in its centre.

Other scenes show biscuit tins wearing party hats peeking out from hampers under a swinging chandelier in another window, and Christmas food and decorations sliding down bannisters at a model of the store’s famous Duke Street entrance.

Each of the products has been reimagined in paper form to allow the store to “play with scale” and to create “a cartoon like feel that complements the nostalgic Where Christmas Comes Alive campaign”, says Fortnum’s. Fortnum & Mason’s head of visual presentation Sallie Smith says there is “a lot of pressure each year” to make its Christmas theme and windows “extraordinary”, expressing her pride in the 2023 design, “which is full of colour and energy”.

Fenwick, Newcastle

Image credit: Fenwick

The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis inspired this year’s Fenwick Newcastle Christmas window scenes. Fenwick chief marketing officer Mia Fenwick describes the display as “a celebration of the importance of storytelling” adding that the chosen tale “brings together readers of all ages” and teaches them about “courage, kindness, family and the thrill of adventure”.

This Christmas windows follow Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy’s journey through “a place where it is always winter but never Christmas”, including their meeting with Aslan and Mr. Tumnus and Edmund’s dramatic capture by the White Witch. It shows the siblings seeking out Father Christmas, who gives them each a gift to help rescue Edmund and tells them: “These are your presents, and they are tools, not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well.”

The display concludes with a celebration as Aslan thaws the White Witch and Christmas is restored after 100 years. Fenwick head of creative Paul Baptiste says it was “a joy to explore the fantastical world containing such amazing characters, wonderful scenery and incredible storytelling”.

Fenwick once again teamed up with The Glasshouse International Centre for Music, which composed a bespoke soundtrack for the festive windows, arranged by Newcastle-based conductor Tim Burke and performed by The Glasshouse community choir, Voices of the River’s Edge, and orchestra Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Harvey Nichols, London

Image credit: Harvey Nichols

A festive fairground has taken over the Harvey Nichols windows in Knightsbridge, London, designed to depict “classic charm with a sleek, futuristic twist”. To catch the eye of passers-by, Harvey Nichols incorporated bright elements such as a holographic colour palette, animated lighting and refractive surfaces.

Bauble-head mannequins can be seen enjoying traditional fairground games like the claw grabber and ring toss, as well as riding around on carousel horses. Another window shows a smartly dressed couple dancing against a disco-ball-like pink and green backdrop.

Harvey Nichols head of visual display Janet Wardley explains how this year’s display was designed to “the energy and excitement of a contemporary fun fair”. To achieve this, she says the team used “thousands of programmed LED lights” fitted into colourful graphic panels in some windows, while others house “interesting visual effects” with changing patterns and colour.

Check out last year’s Christmas window displays here.

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