ASHEVILLE, N.C. – One of the Southeast’s most beloved holiday travel destinations, Christmas at Biltmore, runs now through Jan. 2, 2011. Candlelight Christmas Evenings in Biltmore House takes place Nov. 12 through Jan. 1.
Biltmore celebrated several milestones in 2010, and each has influenced Christmas this year. The annual Festival of Flowers and the Winery both turned 25; and Antler Hill Village opened. Guests will enjoy decor throughout Biltmore House that pays homage to these milestones. At least 150,000 holiday lights around the estate enhance the experience.
Antler Hill Village, Biltmore’s new guest venue, will assume its place in Biltmore’s holiday tradition, with a 35-foot Christmas tree on the Village Green. Carolers will entertain in the Village Green bandstand, while Biltmore staff conducts holiday cooking and decorating demonstrations; and offers wine tastings at the Winery. Children may visit Santa during weekends at Antler Hill Farm.
George Vanderbilt first opened Biltmore House to friends and family on Christmas Eve 1895. Through the years, Vanderbilt and wife Edith welcomed family, friends and estate employees into the home’s Banquet Hall for the annual Christmas Party. Each child who lived on the estate then received a gift from the Vanderbilts.
Biltmore’s modern-day Christmas celebration is modeled on that first Christmas. The seven-story high Banquet Hall appears as if the Vanderbilt family has prepared for the employee Christmas festivities. Tricycles, dolls, toy furniture, books, horns and trains hang from the massive, 34-foot Fraser Fir.
Christmas at Biltmore during the daytime includes tours of Biltmore House, the Gardens, Antler Hill Village and Winery, where guided tours are offered.
Biltmore House glows during Candlelight Christmas Evenings, with ballroom dancers dressed in vintage costumes gliding across the Winter Garden and choirs performing seasonal music. A lighted 55-foot Norway spruce greets visitors from its post on the home’s front lawn. Candlelight Christmas Evenings runs Nov. 12 through Jan. 1 and requires a separate ticket for entry from daytime admission.
Holiday hospitality extends throughout the entire estate. Guests may enjoy dining at any of the estate’s five restaurants and holiday shopping in several retail shops. Guests looking to extend their stay at Biltmore may stay at the four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate. Other activities include horse and carriage rides and exploring acres of landscaped gardens.