The Biltmore Estate has celebrated several milestones in 2010 and each has influenced this year’s Christmas at Biltmore event, which is set for November 5 through January 2.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings, offering evening candlelight tours of Biltmore House, take place from November 12 through January 1.
Biltmore’s annual Festival of Flowers and its winery both turned 25 in 2010; and the estate opened its Antler Hill Village this year. Decor that marks these milestones will be evident throughout Biltmore House and the entire estate, says Cathy Barnhardt, Biltmore’s floral displays manager.
“We were inspired by the legacy of agriculture established by George Vanderbilt,” says Barnhardt. “Our guests will see elements that represent the flowers in Biltmore’s gardens, gilded bird nests representing the forest surrounding the estate and decor that conveys the estate’s agricultural history.”
Antler Hill Village will assume its place in Biltmore’s holiday-illumination tradition, with its buildings outlined in soft lighting. Greenery and vintage decor will adorn the village. Christmastime activities will include carolers in the Village Green bandstand; holiday cooking demonstrations; talks on decorating; and Vanderbilt Christmas storytelling at the Biltmore Legacy building. Santa will visit with children during weekends at Antler Hill Farm.
An emphasis on Vanderbilt family history plays a large part in this year’s celebration. On Christmas Eve 1895, George Vanderbilt opened Biltmore House for the first time to his friends and family. In subsequent years, Vanderbilt and his 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 at that time received a gift from the Vanderbilts.
Biltmore’s modern-day Christmas celebration is modeled from that first Christmas. This year, the seven-story high Banquet Hall will appear as if the Vanderbilt family has prepared for the employee Christmas festivities. Tricycles, dolls, toy furniture, books, horns, trains, hoops and tops will hang from the 34-foot Fraser Fir that is Biltmore’s Christmas tree, with evergreen garlands, mistletoe and holly dressing the dining table.
Christmas at Biltmore during the daytime includes tours of Biltmore House, the gardens, Antler Hill Village and the winery, where visitors may take a guided tour and sample Biltmore wines.
During Biltmore’s Candlelight Christmas Evenings, ballroom dancers dressed in vintage costumes dance on the Winter Garden floor, and choirs perform music of the season. A lighted, 55-foot Norway spruce, surrounded by “islands” of smaller lighted trees and nursery shrubs, will greet visitors from its post on the front lawn of Biltmore House. Candlelight Christmas Evenings will be held November 12 through January 1 and require a separate ticket for entry from daytime admission.
Guests may dine at Bistro, Deer park Restaurant, Stable Cafe, Cedric’s Tavern or The Dining Room at Inn on Biltmore Estate. Guests looking to extend their stay at Biltmore may select the four-star Inn, and may choose from several holiday specials, including New Year’s Eve packages. Biltmore’s retail shops are open for holiday shopping. Other activities include horse-and-carriage rides and exploring acres of landscaped gardens.
For more information about Christmas at Biltmore, visit www.biltmore.com.
Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Comprised of more than 8,000 acres, the estate includes century-old gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture.
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