Memories created by holiday traditions and celebrations last a lifetime. These are the kinds of memories that become family tales you’ll want to hear time and time again. Each year, Biltmore’s Christmas celebration is held at a unique historic destination where families and friends can truly step back in time and become immersed in tradition. The 8,000-acre estate offers magical experiences and activities for all ages, ranging from a candlelight tour of America’s largest home surrounded by festive music to a feast or wine tasting in a converted stable or dairy barn. There’s truly something for everyone.
When George W. Vanderbilt opened Biltmore House to family and friends on Christmas Eve 1895, he probably never imaged that the same traditions celebrated that year would still be carried on today. A huge tree laden with gifts greeted guests. All the family gathered together to enjoy the season, and George’s mother read stories to the children. Many of the traditions begun on that historic night are still celebrated at Biltmore to this day.
A visit to Christmas at Biltmore during the daytime includes tours of Biltmore House, estate grounds and Antler Hill Village. The village links to the Winery, where visitors may take a guided tour that ends with a complimentary wine tasting. Special seasonal seminars, such as “Red Wine & Chocolate”, are also available.
An emphasis on Vanderbilt family history plays a large part in this year”s Christmas at Biltmore celebration. The seven-story high Banquet Hall inside of Biltmore House appears as if the Vanderbilt family has prepared for Christmas festivities during their time in the home. Tricycles, dolls, toy furniture, books, horns, trains, hoops and tops will hang from the massive, 34-foot Fraser Fir tree, with garlands of evergreens, mistletoe and shining holly dressing the room’s dining table. Every object tells a story, and so, everywhere you turn at Biltmore during Christmas, decorations, Vanderbilt-era clothing and mementos hint at timeless holiday moments of a glorious bygone age.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings
Biltmore House takes on a warm glow during Candlelight Christmas Evenings, even an air of mystery, creating a unique holiday experience for guests. Ballroom dancers dressed in vintage costumes glide across the floor of the Winter Garden, and choirs perform traditional music of the season. The front lawn of Biltmore House glows with a lighted 55-foot Norway spruce, surrounded by “islands” of smaller lighted trees and nursery shrubs. Candlelight Christmas Evenings runs through Jan. 1 and requires a separate ticket for entry from daytime admission.
Christmas in Biltmore’s new Antler Hill Village
In the early 1900s, Antler Hill was a special place on the estate where employees’ families gathered for celebrations. Today, in the spirit of those festivities, it’s where families can hear stories of the Vanderbilts’ legendary Christmas celebrations and hospitality. On weekends, Santa Claus stops by the village to meet the kids and hear Christmas wishes. The village is also home to Cedric’s Tavern, The Farm, retail shops and Biltmore Winery and is open to daytime and Candlelight Christmas Evening visitors.
Holiday dining, lodging, and other activities
Holiday hospitality extends throughout the entire estate. Guests may enjoy a festive meal at Bistro, Deerpark Restaurant, Stable Café, Cedric’s Tavern or The Dining Room at Inn on Biltmore Estate. For those looking to extend their stay at Biltmore, the four-star Inn offers several packages for holidays, including special New Year’s Eve packages. Many of the great treasures you see at Biltmore can’t be taken home, then again, many can. Guests can browse Biltmore’s wide variety of shops to find unique estate-inspired gifts. Other activities include taking a cozy horse and carriage ride (blankets provided) and exploring acres of landscaped gardens.
Holiday decorating seminars
Estate visitors can also learn how to infuse Biltmore into their own holiday décor by attending seminars at A Gardener’s Place. Biltmore’s talented Floral Displays team members will show how to create Christmas Wreaths (daily, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and Oasis Candle Rings (daily, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.).
Christmas at Biltmore runs Nov. 5, 2010 through Jan. 2, 2011 and Candlelight Christmas Evenings, offering evening candlelight tours of Biltmore House, take place Nov. 12 through Jan. 1.
For more details please visit http://christmas.biltmore.com.