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How to See the Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show in NYC — 2023

Every holiday season since 2004, Saks Fifth Avenue puts on a dazzling light show on the facade of its flagship location on its eponymous street. In this post, we’ll give you all the details for how you can see the Saks Fifth Avenue light show for yourself.

What is the Saks Fifth Avenue light show

The Saks Fifth Avenue light show is a synchronized light and music display that spans the front facade of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship location on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The light show takes place nightly during the Christmas season.

Music is played from speakers on the building and is audible from street level in front of the building and the nearby sidewalks. Lights flash and dance across the building in sync with the music, which changes yearly. In 2022, all of the music was Elton John songs. The theme for 2023 is referred to as “wheel of fortune.”

The light show is popular among tourists visiting during the holiday season. Because of its location, the light show is easily combined with a stroll down Fifth Avenue to see the holiday window displays and a visit to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show Basics

In this section, we’re going to tackle the practical information you’ll need to know if you want to see the Saks Fifth Avenue light show. We’re talking dates, times and locations in the form of a rapid fire Q&A.

Ready? Go!

Where is the Saks Fifth Avenue light show?

The Saks Fifth Avenue light show takes place at the store’s flagship Fifth Avenue location. The lights are located on the Fifth Avenue (west) side of the building. The exact address is 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022.

What are the Saks Fifth Avenue light show dates?

The Saks Fifth Avenue light show typically begins a few days before Thanksgiving as a kickoff to the holiday season in NYC. The first light show each year always has a lot of pomp and circumstance, and is performed in conjunction with the revealing of the holiday window displays.

Once the light show kicks off, it runs nightly through the first week of the new year. In 2023, the Saks Fifth Avenue light show will run from November 21, 2023 through January 5, 2024.

What are the hours for the Saks Fifth Avenue light show?

Officially, the Saks Fifth Avenue light show is scheduled for 5 PM to 11 PM nightly. However, with early sunsets in December, the show often starts earlier than 5 PM. During a visit on December 16 (2022), I found that the light show was already going by 4:30 PM.

How long is the Saks Fifth Avenue Light show?

Each showing of the Saks Fifth Avenue light show lasts about four minutes.

How frequently does the Saks Fifth Avenue light show run?

The Saks Fifth Avenue light show repeats every 10 minutes. That gives you the chance to see the show a few times while you’re in the area, and I’d encourage you to watch it from a variety of vantage points.

Saks Fifth Avenue between light show showings

Plan your night

Now that we’ve got the logistics covered, let’s talk about the night of your actual visit.

Where to watch the Saks Fifth Avenue light show

You can see and hear the Saks Fifth Avenue light show all along Fifth Avenue between 49th Street and 50th Street, and all the way back through Channel Gardens to the Rockefeller Center Tree.

Fifth Avenue is a busy street for car traffic, and it does not shut down for pedestrians during the light show. So your viewing spaces will be limited to the sidewalks. Fortunately, the sidewalks are lined with barricades as a safety measure to separate pedestrians from traffic.

For an up-close view of the light show and prime viewing of the store windows, stay on the east side of Fifth Avenue, directly in front of the store. For the best view of the light show itself, cross to the other side of Fifth Avenue to Channel Gardens.

You might not know it by name, but Channel Gardens is the pedestrian courtyard area that runs from Fifth Avenue to Rockefeller Center. It’s where the iconic angels are located during the Christmas season. This courtyard becomes a great space to see the Saks light show and can accommodate larger crowds.

The best time to see the Saks Fifth Avenue light show

The Saks Fifth Avenue light show is quite popular and can be very crowded. Lean into it. Think of it as “holiday hustle and bustle.”

That said … with the exception of the opening night, crowds usually aren’t that bad. The show is short, so there is a lot of turn over. If someone tall stood in front of you during your first viewing, move to a slightly different spot and try again in 10 minutes.

That said, I would recommend going early or late. I watched the light show around 4:45 PM and found the crowds to be tolerable. I stayed for a few different showings and liked watching from different angles. Early times do have more rush hour traffic and crowds, so for lower crowds try visiting later in the evening around 10:30 PM.

Sample NYC Christmas Itinerary

The Saks Fifth Avenue light show is short and won’t take too much time. It’s a great activity to add to a holiday evening in Midtown. Here’s how I’d recommend spending your evening around the Saks Fifth Avenue light show. (Or check out this post for even more Christmas activities in New York.)

  • If it’s a nice day and you have the afternoon free, start at Columbus Circle Holiday Market on the southwest corner of Central Park.
  • If you’re starting later in the day, just head straight to Bergdorf Goodman on the north end of the shops on Fifth Avenue. Take a stroll down Fifth Avenue enjoying all the festive window displays and decorations.
  • Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This famous church as beautiful inside and out. It’s free and open to the public daily.
  • Enjoy the Saks Fifth Avenue light show and window displays. (You’re an expert on that topic now!)
  • Check out NYC’s largest Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. There’s an ice rink too, but advance reservations are required (and they’re expensive and sell out quick). Maybe even go to the Top of the Rock if you haven’t been to an observation deck at nighttime.
  • Walk west toward Radio City Music Hall, where The Rockettes perform their annual Christmas Spectacular. If you don’t have tickets to the show, swing by the oversized red ornament display just across the street.
  • Keep going west toward Times Square. There’s another Christmas market on Broadway between 47th and 48th streets. It’s small and has a lot of tchotchkes, but it’s cute if you’re looking for some souvenirs.
  • Cozy up with a cocktail at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment. They decorate to the nines for Christmas and it’s incredibly cozy and charmed. It gets pretty crowded, so try to snag a reservation in advance.
  • For a more casual beer, pop into McGee’s Pub. It’s known to be the inspiration behind the bar in How I Met Your Mother.
  • For a late night dinner, make your way over to Mom’s Kitchen and Bar. I cannot tell you enough times to get the Mac & Cheese Pancakes (I literally ate them today at their Queens location). They also always have a fun selection of seasonal cocktails. We also really like P.S. Kitchen, an amazing vegan option nearby.