Most people know of Biltmore—the sprawling Asheville, North Carolina estate built in the 19th century by George Vanderbilt. But did you know that every year they transform the Biltmore house and grounds into a glowing Christmas celebration full of ribbons, garland and thousands of glimmering lights? It’s a truly breathtaking experience, and one that deserves to be on your family’s holiday travel agenda, if you’re able to go.
The home, inspired by French Renaissance chateaus, was built by George W. Vanderbilt at the height of the Gilded Age. George was a wealthy American art collector and member of the esteemed Vanderbilt family, who amassed a fortune through railroads and other business ventures in the 19th century. Opened on Christmas Eve in 1895, Biltmore House has been doing Christmas right for over 125 years now.
The first Christmas at Biltmore House was dazzling. Estate records show that Vanderbilt paid close attention to every detail to ensure a memorable holiday experience for his guests. Requests were placed for a large Christmas tree in the Banquet Hall, mistletoe and holly were gathered, and hand-made garlands were hung throughout the home.
Today Biltmore welcomes guests from across the globe to be awe-struck by the home, gardens, and decorations, all set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the estate is open year-round, Christmas is a very special time to plan a visit.
What to Do at Biltmore
Biltmore is known as one of the Southeast’s most elegant and jaw-dropping holiday travel destinations, and the modern-day celebration offers so much to behold. Think miles of glorious gardens to stroll, hundreds of poinsettias, dozens of Christmas trees, and an elaborately decorated 35-foot Fraser fir in the Gothic Banquet Hall.
There are also a plethora of things to do from rooftop tours, backstairs tours, bike rides, and winery tours. Check them all out here and book in advance. Other holiday festivities around the estate include visits with Santa in Antler Hill Village and the release of Biltmore’s special Christmas wines.
The enchantment continues into the evening with Candlelight Christmas Evenings. Luminaries dot the front lawn of Biltmore House and thousands of tiny white lights adorn its 55-foot tall Norway Spruce. Inside the house, guests are transported to another time with soloists and choirs performing traditional Christmas music, with the rooms taking on a magical glow as candles illuminate it all.
If you’re planning a trip to Biltmore, we highly encourage you to purchase tickets well in advance and reserve meals ahead of time in any of the restaurants on the property. Special holiday menus and room packages at the four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate complete the experience and promise a memorable visit.
2022 Holiday Design Theme
Throughout 2022, Biltmore has been part of the national celebration of the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the estate’s landscape architect. For Christmas, Biltmore’s talented team of floral designers planned the décor in Biltmore House around a “Winter Landscapes” theme that brings the outdoors inside and honors Olmsted’s grand achievements.
A wintry forest of trees flanking the front doors of Biltmore House will welcome guests into the home for tours where they’ll encounter holiday finery suggesting snowy landscapes reminiscent of Boston Common, New York City’s Central Park, and other well-known parks and landscapes designed by Olmsted.
The Banquet Hall will be transformed into a dramatic and magical wintry scene where the home’s largest Christmas tree will spend the season.
Decorations are scaled to the maximum to transform an estate like Biltmore into the grand experience it is year after year. Decor in Biltmore House alone includes 67 hand-decorated Christmas trees this year, more than 14,000 ornaments, 45,000 holiday lights, 250 candles, 1,000 feet of garland, and 150 traditional poinsettias!
Choose A Day Or Night Experience
Two experiences are available to enjoy Biltmore during the holiday season—the Christmas at Biltmore daytime house tour experience and the Candlelight Christmas Evenings nighttime house tour experience. The entire estate is open to guests as part of admission to either Christmas experience.
Christmas at Biltmore daytime celebration, Nov. 4, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023
This beloved tradition includes a daytime tour of Biltmore House while the estate is adorned with holiday decorations that number in the thousands. From Biltmore House to the Winery, Antler Hill Village and their special exhibit, Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius, guests will want to linger on the estate to experience all that Christmas at Biltmore has to offer.
Candlelight Christmas Evenings, Nov. 4, 2022 – Jan. 7, 2023
Biltmore House glows with candlelight and firelight during this nighttime tour, creating an entirely different experience. This experience allows guests to step back in time, recalling Vanderbilt’s first Christmas spent in Biltmore House in the 19th century. Musicians stationed throughout the house perform seasonal favorites. Those visiting for evening tours will want to arrive early to experience all the estate has to offer during the season, from holiday menus to the Winery to Antler Hill Village.
Consider Biltmore a bucket list destination for the Christmas season and live your very own Gilded Age holiday. Even if you can’t visit the grounds during the holiday you can shop Biltmore’s beautiful seasonal gifts, from ornaments to wine, on their online shop.