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Fenwick’s Window Through The Ages

It’s a highlight in many of our Christmas traditions – so much so that the Northumberland Street stalwart’s latest offering was unveiled virtually this year for the first time in history.

By Becky Hardy

It’s a highlight in many of our Christmas traditions – so much so that the Northumberland Street stalwart’s latest offering was unveiled virtually this year for the first time in history. But how many of Fenwick’s Christmas windows do you remember?

Last Sunday, Fenwick’s iconic Christmas window was revealed virtually via Facebook Live in an online event that made history for the store. In 50 years of creating festive scenes, never once had crowds not been able to flock to Northumberland Street for a peek through the glass in person. But although it was prompted by the COVID–19 pandemic, the shift to a digital unveiling proved monumentally popular for the Newcastle department store, attracting 250,000 online viewers from as far away as Australia, Thailand and the USA (although we’re sure plenty tuned in closed to home too).

The display itself didn’t disappoint either: Wind In The Willows, Christmas edition. Charming, funny and bringing a healthy dose of nostalgia for Christmases gone by that, let’s face it, we could all do with this year. And the sheer fact that we could still get a taste of the magic that the Fenwick’s Christmas window reveal brings to the festive season (albeit from our own homes) kept that little bit of continuity to a year that has been fraught with change.

But being the latest in a long, long line of seasonal sensations from the department store is no easy feat. We look back at the good, the not-so-good and the downright bizarre from Fenwick’s Christmas window tradition. Does 2020’s instalment measure up?

THE FIRST

Camberwick Green, 1971

Fenwick first took the brave step to devote an entire shop window to festive animation in 1971, when they began their collaboration with the German-based One World Studio to recreate popular children TV series Camberwick Green. With stop-motion puppets Captain Snort, Private Featherby and fan favourite Windy Miller began a festive tradition that would continue for more than half a century.

THE ‘WHAT ON EARTH?!

Christmas in Another World, 2002

Everyone remembers Fenwick’s 2002 window, although not always for the best reasons. Don’t get us wrong, the famous (or is it ‘infamous’ now?) Aliens were well produced, but definitely divided opinions having followed the slightly more traditional A Christmas Carol and Santa’s Journey. Whether you loved or hated them though, you’re unlikely to forget them.

THE BEST

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2019

This was a tough one, and the 1994 Christmas Village will take some beating in our opinion, but last year’s puppet portrayal of Willy Wonka, Charlie and Grandpa Joe was expertly created in the style of Roald Dahl’s original (and instantly recognisable) illustrator, Quentin Blake. Genius.

THE REST

We couldn’t sign off before giving special mention to our top three runners up. Our Bronze medal goes to Fenwick’s 2014 depiction of Alice in Wonderland, for all its vibrancy, character and mad-cap magic. Second place is Gulliver’s Travels (2006), for reminding us that the little things can be the most powerful. And we go all the way to 1986 for our pick for the Gold, to Fenwick’s magnificent Christmas Circus which brought all of the world’s exoticism to Northumberland Street.

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