ASHEVILLE, NC – One hundred fourteen years ago this Christmas Eve, George Washington Vanderbilt first opened Biltmore House to family and friends. Vanderbilt’s legacy for legendary hospitality lives on today and especially during the holiday season when Biltmore House is elaborately decorated for Christmas, offering guests a glimpse of what it may have been like to be one of his guests during that special holiday season in 1895.
Known for being one of the largest holiday displays in the Southeast, Biltmore House and the surrounding 8,000 acres of the estate will celebrate its annual Christmas at Biltmore, Nov. 6, 2009, through Jan. 2, 2010. For ticket and booking information, call 877-BILTMORE or visit www.biltmore.com.
As in years past, the event will feature 100 decorated Christmas trees; hundreds of wreaths and bows; hundreds of poinsettias; 30,000 lights in the house with another 150,000 lights used around the estate; 10,000 feet of fresh garland; and more than 25,000 ornaments. Biltmore House’s holiday centerpiece, a 34-foot Fraser fir, spends the holidays in the 72-foot high Banquet Hall, adorned with lights and surrounded by hundreds of brightly packaged gift boxes. The Biltmore House front lawn will glow with a lighted 55-foot Norway spruce, surrounded by eight “islands” of smaller lighted trees and nursery shrubs.
Christmas at Biltmore
Christmas at Biltmore during the daytime includes tours of Biltmore House, the Gardens, the Winery with complimentary wine tasting, River Bend Farm and Barnyard. Inside Biltmore House, the Banquet Hall organ will serenade guests with music of the season.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings
Candlelight Christmas Evenings, where luminaries and a brilliant display of twinkling lights on the Front Lawn set the tone for tours of Biltmore House, requires separate entry. New this year will be ballroom dancers in vintage costume gliding across the floor in the Winter Garden. A story teller will regale visitors with readings from traditional holiday tales such as “The Little Match Girl,” “The Gift of the Magi” and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Choirs will perform European carols, with musicians providing seasonal music.
Get Inspired by Biltmore Decor
The restoration and preservation of the magnificent Louis XV Suite in Biltmore House has inspired this year’s holiday decor theme. Guests who come to Biltmore before diving into their own holiday decorating can’t help but pick up tips and ideas. In fact, Biltmore staff will give free holiday seminars on how to create Vanderbilt-inspired decorations for their own homes. Reservations for the seminars are not required; however, space may be limited so guests should arrive early. Here is the seminar schedule:
– Deck the Halls, daily, Nov. 6-22: Biltmore’s Floral Displays staff will give decorating tips for the home. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Biltmore House Library Den.
– Centerpieces for Holiday Entertaining, daily, Nov. 6-Jan. 2: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at A Gardener’s Place in the Conservatory.
– Decorating a Christmas Wreath, daily, Nov. 6-Jan. 2: Learn how to turn an ordinary silk Christmas wreath into an elegant and interesting design. 1 and 3 p.m. at A Gardener’s Place in the Conservatory.
– Red Wine and Chocolate, daily, Nov. 6-Jan. 2: Discover why chocolate and red wine is a match made in heaven by pairing Biltmore Estate wine with several varieties of chocolate. 2, 3, 4 and 6 p.m. at the Winery.
Give the Gift of a Memory
Christmas at Biltmore is the perfect gift that families can give themselves. With the estate transformed into a magical wonderland, families will create memories to last a lifetime. “Family” is an unofficial theme at Biltmore this year since one of four rooms that opened to the public in Biltmore House for the first time was where two generations of the Vanderbilt family were actually born.
Holiday hospitality extends across the entire estate. Biltmore Winery offers self-guided tours and complimentary wine tastings. Santa Claus will visit River Bend Barn on Saturdays, Nov. 7-Dec. 20. Guests may enjoy a festive meal at Bistro, Deerpark Restaurant, Stable Cafe or The Dining Room at Inn on Biltmore Estate. Guests looking to extend their stay at Biltmore, the four-star Inn offers several packages for holidays, including special New Year’s Eve packages.
Biltmore boasts retail shops, all perfect for holiday gift shopping. Other activities include taking a cozy horse and carriage ride (blankets provided) and exploring acres of landscaped gardens.