Fenwicks Window

Newcastle’s long-established department store, Fenwicks, enchants visitors to Northumberland Street every Christmas with it’s dazzling window display. In a normal year there is a big build up as the store windows are covered up as the animatronic figures and elaborate sets are constructed, then crowds gather for a first look as the windows are unveiled. The windows bring a lot of people to the street and they herald the beginning of the Christmas shopping period in the city. Every day the crowds gather and slowly progress from window to window. Small children press their noses to the glass and stare as their favourite characters actually move!

Of course there couldn’t be anything like that this year….or could there? Well yes! No crowds of course, but thanks to technology, Fewwicks were able to livestream the countdown, the unveiling and a unique pressed-against-the window viewing of this year’s extravaganza. I watched it on Facebook and took some screenshots.

It began with some cheeky elves dancing to Christmas music in an upper floor window.

Then Father Christmas waved from the roof and led the countdown.

Three! Two! One!……the blackout curtains dropped to reveal this year’s window story: The Wind in the Willows at Christmas. It began with mole getting ready to leave his home to visit his friend, Ratty.

Outside Toad Hall, Mr Toad has crashed his new red car.

The friends warn him to be more careful but he dashes off, on skis, far too fast as usual, crashing into Santa. Toad steals the sack full of presents.

Mole and Ratty enlist the help of wise old Badger to capture Toad, who is escaping on the train. They have a plan….and a net!

They catch Toad and rescue Santa and all the presents. They help deliver them to all the children that Christmas Eve.

With the job done, they all sit down to a magnificent Christmas feast.

The Fenwicks Window is a tradition that has lasted almost 50 years. In recent years the theme has been a little bit more commercial, with links to a popular children’s book and lots of linked merchandise on sale in the store. We’ve had “The Snowman” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” most recently. it doesn’t make the whole thing less magical.

A year or two ago, with all eyes on the windows, Greggs bakery found the perfect solution to remind people that they were there across the street. They changed the shop sign to a mirror image, so it could be read in the reflection!

The video of the this year’s Fenwick’s Window can still be seen on Facebook, with 821,000 views so far – the comments were all very positive and in some cases people were quite emotional. It certainly made me smile.