Every year the unveiling of Fenwick’s window the first weekend in November is the first of the festive highlights in Newcastle. This year Fenwick’s have got more Christmassy again with a display depicting the story of The Snowman, marking the 40th anniversary since the Raymond Biggs children’s picture book was released.
I never go along to the event itself, that’s something for families with kids to enjoy – the Santa, the snow, and I’m told this year Greggs were giving out festive bakes too. Instead I prefer to avoid the crowds and go along early the next morning, when it’s a lot easier to see the full window display.
So its been 40 years since The Snowman book was released, and the windows that stretch the length of the Fenwick’s flagship store on Northumberland Street tell the story just as it was written, about a boy who built a snowman that came to life.
‘I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snow I had ever seen…It was a magical day… and it was on that day I made The Snowman.”
Apparently the boy’s name is James, even though he isn’t named in the book that was the name given to him in the film. James and his Snowman get up to all sorts through the night, playing with toys inside…
They find a motorcycle and go for a ride on it, but the engine warms up the Snowman so he needs to cool down in the freezer…
Together the Snowman and James fly north, through the Northern Lights, and land in a forest in the Arctic where they dance and play with other snowmen.
They meet Santa Claus and his reindeer, who give James the present of a knitted scarf with snowmen on it.
The windows finish when the Snowman and James return home back to James’ house. You see him giving the Snowman a hug goodbye.
In the book of course James wakes up the next day to find the Snowman has melted. He wonders if it was all a dream until he finds the scarf from Santa Claus in his pocket.
While Fenwick’s don’t show the melted snowman scene, the very last small window is James on his own holding his scarf.
I really loved the Paddington Bear windows last year, probably because I love that story, but there’s no denying the Snowman display is much more festive, wintery and Christmassy. I think it will be a big hit with kids and adults alike for that reason this year.
What you might also notice this year is that Greggs bakery opposite have flipped their sign round so it’s backwards. This all made sense when I realised that when you’re taking photos their sign reads perfectly in the reflection. If you’re a fan of festive bakes head there for one as before you join the queue to see the windows.
The Christmas department in Fenwick’s itself this year is in the basement, and I had a quick wander through it. I don’t think it’s quite as good or as big as previous years when its been on a higher floor, but there are some gorgeous Christmas decorations and gifts.
I really enjoyed the food and drink sections, especially gin lane which has miniatures of all your favourite gins for around a fiver. Great as small gifts or stocking fillers.
The food hall however is my favourite place, and as you go in you’re met with a display of Christmas hampers filled with luxury foods, chutneys, and treats. I love Christmas for splurging on stuff like that.
There’s chocolate boxes, truffles, drinking games, biscuit tins and a lot more cropping up now as you wander among the different food counters, and it did get me quite excited for Christmas despite still only being November.
Overall I did love the windows just like I usually do, and every time I think back to when I was a kid going up to see them on the bus with my grandparents.
For videos of the full display take a look at my instagram story highlight.
What do you think, will you be paying them a visit this year?
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