A good friend who lives in Newcastle has for many years now talked of her annual family visit to the window of the Fenwick’s department store, in the town centre, during the run up to Christmas. Despite living only an hour away in Carlisle and making regular trips to the Metrocentre at Gateshead I admit I rarely venture into the town so had never visited Fenwick’s let alone known about their famous window! This year however I decided to make the trip with the little one to see it, but not before doing my history homework!
The Newcastle branch of Fenwick’s is the company’s flagship store and has been creating awe- inspiring animated windows to delight their shoppers since 1971 – over 40yrs! The display comprises of eight separate scenes laid out over 38 metres making it the largest of its kind in the UK outside of London. The planning takes up to a full year with over 3500 hours of planning, designing and building before the big launch!
The theme of the window is a closely guarded secret until the anticipated big reveal with past themes over the years including Beatrix Potter and The Snowman. This year’s window was unveiled as a Paddington Bear theme based on the well-loved books by Michael Bond- extremely well-timed too with the recent release of the second movie!
We visited two weeks after the window was unveiled and during a school day with the hope of it being quieter – I couldn’t have been more wrong! I could easily see where I needed to go from the constant stream of people filtering their way past the impressive store front.
The windows depict Paddington getting into all sorts of mischief, ‘helping’ to decorate, trying his hand at hairdressing and taking a bath to name just a couple. Each window is animated and our favourite was definitely Paddington taking his hat on and off, it really captivated Leo’s imagination and he stood chuckling at it for ages! I must admit having heard that Paddington was the theme before visiting I wondered how festive it would be however was pleasantly surprised, it felt really Christmassy and the buzz of excitement in the air made it a fantastic experience. I wouldn’t hesitate to visit in years to come as we really enjoyed it – who knows it may well become a new Christmas tradition for us as it is for hundreds of North East families heralding the ‘real’ start of Christmas.
If you fancy taking a look at Fenwick’s window you can visit them at 39 Northumberland Street, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE1 7AS. Situated right in the towns shopping hub its ideal for combining with a day of Christmas shopping.