A towering 35-foot Fraser fir tree arrived at America’s Largest Home this week, the finishing touch after weeks of decorating Biltmore House for the holidays. Christmas at Biltmore, the estate’s annual holiday celebration, formally begins Saturday, Nov. 3 and runs through Jan. 6, 2019.
The 35-foot Banquet Hall tree is Christmas at Biltmore’s star attraction each year. Santa rode aboard a horse-drawn carriage to usher the tree to the front door of Biltmore House. It took more than 40 staff members to hoist the tree onto their shoulders and carry it into the Banquet Hall, where a system of ropes secured the tree in place.
The tree comes from Andrews Nursery in Avery County, N.C. and is a nod to a tradition started by George Vanderbilt on Christmas Eve 1895 when he opened his 250-room home to friends and family for the first time. As tradition dictates, the tree is decorated with 500 ornaments and wrapped packages tucked into its branches. It serves as the seasonal centerpiece in the home’s immense Banquet Hall.
During Christmas at Biltmore, the entire estate may be enjoyed as part of admission. More than one hundred Christmas trees—each hand-decorated and styled—grace the house and estate combined. The Conservatory is filled with poinsettias and tropical plants and offers a daily complimentary seminar that provides tips for guests’ own holiday décor.
Biltmore Winery is decorated with 7,000 globe-shaped ornaments hanging from the ceiling in gold and clear tones—giving guests the feeling of being inside a bottle of sparkling wine. Free tastings of Biltmore wines are offered among the festive décor.
Weekends in Antler Hill Village feature carolers sharing Christmas favorites and Santa making appearances at the bandstand to hear wish lists from guests of all ages. Antler Hill Village is a must see—buildings are outlined in lights, a fountain lit with special visual effects, and illuminated trees and ornaments in abundance.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings — Nov. 3, 2018 through Jan. 5, 2019
Biltmore House glows with candlelight and firelight, changing the daytime visit’s mood and experience. By reservation only, Candlelight Christmas Evenings in Biltmore House allow guests to step back in time with an experience more like Vanderbilt’s guests had during their first Christmas Eve spent in Biltmore House in 1895. Musicians stationed throughout the house such as choirs and instrumental duos perform seasonal favorites. Setting the unique scene is a 55-foot Norway spruce sparkling in the center of the front lawn and surrounded by 35 illuminated evergreens. Luminaries line the walkway to the house.
Christmas at Biltmore 2018 Event Details
Christmas at Biltmore features the following holiday activities and events:
- Nov. 3 through Jan. 6, daily: Christmas at Biltmore daytime experience
- Nov. 3 through Jan. 5, daily: Candlelight Christmas Evenings nighttime experience
- Nov. 3 through Jan. 6, daily, 5:30 p.m.-midnight: Illumination of Antler Hill Village
- Oct. 9 through Dec. 31, daily, 1:30 p.m.: A Gardener’s Place Seminar “Nature-Inspired Holiday Tablescapes”
- Nov. 3 through Jan. 6, daily: Conservatory’s annual seasonal display
- Nov. 3 through Jan. 6, daily: Complimentary wine tasting at Biltmore Winery. Look for the annual Christmas Wine release. Winery specialty tours available with additional price and reservations required
- Nov. 3 through Jan. 5, Fridays & Saturdays, 6 and 7 p.m.: Candlelight Winery Tour with an intimate look into the winemaking process and tasting with light cheese pairing. Additional price and reservations required
- Nov. 3 through Dec. 23, Select dates, 1-5 p.m.: Visits with Santa at the bandstand in Antler Hill Village
- Nov. 2 through Jan. 5, Friday and Saturdays, 3-7:30 p.m.: Roving Holiday Carolers in Antler Hill Village
- Nov. 3 through Jan. 5, Select dates, 3-10 p.m.: Bonfires in Antler Hill Village with s’mores kits available for purchase at The Creamery
- Dec. 15 through 22, Select dates, 1-3 p.m.: The Inn on Biltmore Estate’s Annual Gingerbread House Tea, Additional price and reservations required
- Ongoing: Festive holiday meals prepared by award-winning chefs served in all of the estate’s restaurants.
Guests looking to extend their holiday visits have several options. For those seeking a retreat with personalized service, The Inn on Biltmore Estate offers four-star accommodations in a private hilltop setting. Holiday packages starting with Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve are available.
Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate is for the guest looking for a casual overnight stay. Village Hotel is located in the heart of Antler Hill Village with a convenient home base steps away from shopping, dining, Biltmore Winery, and live music in the Village. Special holiday packages are available.
Seasonal activities and events for overnight guests include ornament decorating Dec. 23 – 24 at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, cookie decorating at Village Hotel on select dates between Dec. 15 – 24, and more.
For tickets, reservations, and more information, visit Biltmore.com/visit.