Since 1895, when George Vanderbilt and his wife Edith invited family, friends and estate employees into the home’s banquet hall for an annual Christmas party, Christmas has been a special time at the Biltmore Estate.
Inspiration abounds while visiting the Biltmore during the holidays. There are 52 Christmas trees inside the house, with a fresh-cut Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall, ranging from 4 to 35 feet tall. There are another 45 more decorated throughout the estate. Add in the 150,000 lights, 5000 feet of white pine and Fraser fir garland, 450 wreaths, hundreds of ornaments and 1200 poinsettias and you’re sure to find some ideas to use in your own home.
Outdoors at the Estate
Numerous outdoor activities are also offered at the estate during the holiday season. Horse and carriages rides are a popular choice (see sidebar for pricing information) and depart daily from the Trail Barn. Private carriage rides are also available. There are fishing lessons, Sporting Clays lessons, hiking bike rentals and guided Segway tours to name a few.
Antler Hill Village
Antler Hill Village opened earlier this year amid rave reviews. During the holiday season, Santa will be making an appearance on weekends from 12:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Antler Hill Farm. Carolers will be entertaining guests in the Village Green bandstand and there will be cooking and decoration demonstrations. Also, be sure to checkout Cedric’s Tavern, named after the Vanderbilt’s beloved pooch. This pub offers up classic pub dishes with a twist including homemade pickles and Scottish eggs.
The Winery at the Biltmore Estate creates special holiday wines each year. This year they are offering Christmas at Biltmore Rose, a semi-sweet Rose’ with fruity and spicy aromas and Christmas at Biltmore White Wine also a semi-sweet wine but with orange, spice and mint flavors. With over one million guests each year, the Biltmore Winery is the most visited winery in America. The wine is distributed in twelve states and wins numerous awards. Free, guided tours and wine tastings are available daily.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings
Candlelight Christmas evenings are another popular holiday event. The house is lit by firelight and candlelight that produces a warm glow and accents the decorations and ornaments. The front lawn is illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights. Tickets can be purchased separately or in combination with daylight tickets.
Tips for your visit
Holidays at the Biltmore are an extremely popular time to visit. Here are some tips to make your visit more enjoyable.
- Allow for at least one full day to visit if not more.
- Get your tickets in advance online or by calling 800-411-3812.
- On designated busy days (December 4, 11, 18, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, January 1) you will need a timed reservation for visiting the house.
- Sunday through Friday is less busy.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes and layer for changing weather.
- In inclement weather some attractions may not be open.
Christmas at Biltmore
Runs daily through Jan 2, 2011. Candlelight Christmas Evenings running through Jan 1st. For more information, visit the website at www.biltmore.com.
Horse and Carriage Rides
Prices vary but start at $35.00 per person with children 5 and younger free with a ticketed adult. Call Deerpark Carriage and Trail Barn at 828-225-6398 for more information.
Antler Hill Village
The Antler Hill Barn, Kitchen Garden and Farmyard are open daily, 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Farm demonstrations, kid’s activities, Woodworker and Blacksmith demonstrations are held daily, 12:00 p.m. through 5:00 p.m. at various times.
Wagon rides and guided tours are also available.