A Glimpse At A Biltmore Christmas
There are travelers who visit the same destination two or three times.
Then there are the Biltmore purists: obsessed with all things Biltmore. We make the trek to Biltmore Estate from wherever we are multiple times a year. But come heck or high water, there is one time of year we never miss. In all the magical places on planet Earth to celebrate Christmas, no one does it quite like Biltmore.
I remember the first time I toured the Biltmore House during the holidays. As a small child, I stood on the grand lawn, staring up in awe at America’s largest private residence. It was one of those crystal clear Asheville, North Carolina nights, with the sky full of stars and the lights reflecting off the façade of the grand home. Even Santa’s North Pole address could not be more special, I thought. Now decades later, having seen Biltmore evolve over the years, Christmas is even more magical. I’m as anxious to walk through the front doors as my five-year-old self was all those years ago.
It’s easy to imagine how this holiday tradition, which dates back more than 120 years, that Christmas at Biltmore has taken on an ethereal quality. There is a feeling that comes over people when they meander around during the holidays, that even just for a short time, we are insulated from the rest of the world. That all really is merry and bright.
One month remains in the Biltmore Christmas season. On January 7, 2018, the trees and historic ornaments will return to their hiding places and the lights will go out until next year. Here are the highlights and can’t miss sights of Christmas at Biltmore, 2017.
The mother of all things Biltmore at Christmas is the Candlelight Christmas Evenings nighttime experience. Aglow with candlelight and firelight, this is a spiritual experience like the Vanderbilt family’s guests shared on that first Biltmore House Christmas Eve in 1895. This year the first scene to encounter is a 55-foot Norway spruce laden with lights front and center on the lawn. Flanked by 20 illuminated evergreens and luminaries lighting the way to the house, this is the ultimate Christmas photo opp.
This year’s theme is “A Vanderbilt Christmas” , celebrating the spectacular Gilded Age. Vanderbilt family Christmases were over the top, laced with the fine art of gathering with loved ones and friends.
The towering 35-foot-tall Fraser Fir tree is the centerpiece of the decorations, but that’s only the beginning – admission includes the entire estate, which is positively draped in holiday cheer. 100+ Christmas trees adorn property including the house and estate.
Go ahead and hold your breath, because The Conservatory will take it away. It anchors the Walled Garden, bursting with poinsettias. Between the Conservatory’s soaring views and the carolers, this is heaven for Christmas enthusiasts.
Don’t miss a cold beer, hot chocolate or cocktail during a tour of Antler Hill Village, where Christmas décor spills over into casual snacks, wine and cocktails. Visit during the weekends with the kids to hear more carolers and visits with Santa.
If ever there was a year to tour the Biltmore Winery, it is this one. For the first time, it is decorated with 7,000 globe-shaped ornaments hanging from the ceiling. This is where to partake of free tastings of Biltmore wines.
Take a Candlelight Winery Tour and revel in the underground cellar – history buffs, be sure to ask to see the events room. Additional reservations are required for the tasting and light cheese pairing, but it’s worth it (Fridays and Saturdays at 6 and 7pm, through Jan. 6.)
Over the years, Biltmore has become a dining destination renowned for seed to fork cuisine rooted in the Estate’s sustainable past. Grab a casual bite at Village Social and save a night to indulge at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. For lunch, don’t miss a meal in one of the stalls in the Stable Café adjacent to Biltmore House.
Moms and daughters, the annual gingerbread house tea is a bonding experience like no other. This takes place at the Inn at Biltmore Estate, additional prices and reservations required (through December 18.)
A plethora of other holiday activities and events include the Christmas at Biltmore daytime experience (daily), A Gardener’s Place holiday seminar “Holiday Tablescapes with Plants” (daily through Dec. 31, 1:30pm), live music at Cedric’s Tavern in Antler Hill Village, bonfires in Antler Hill Village with s’mores kits available for purchase (Fridays and Saturdays, 3-10pm). Overnight guests can participate in ornament decorating (Dec. 22), cookie decorating at Village Hotel (Dec. 24 and 25) and the New Year’s Eve Village bonfire, a romantic way to ring in 2018.
Biltmore Estate offers two lodging options. The Inn on Biltmore Estate is a four-star accommodations destination with privacy and luxury as its key points. The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate has made Biltmore affordable to all, but it remains distinctly Biltmore. Because it’s located in Antler Hill Village, guests can walk to Biltmore Winery and live music. Village Social is a great place to hang after a long day of walking and tours, catch a bite and cocktail without leaving the hotel.
DETAILS & DIRECTIONS
Dates: Christmas at Biltmore runs through January 7. For tickets and reservations, click to http://www.biltmore.com/visit
From Savannah, take I-95 North to I-26 (4 hrs, 41 mins)
From Atlanta, take I-85 North to I-26 (3 hrs, 24 mins)
From Greenville / Spartanburg, take 1-26 straight to Asheville (1 hr, 14 mins)