ASHEVILLE, NC – Known as one of the Southeast’s most beloved and storied holiday travel destinations, Christmas at Biltmore is set to begin on Nov. 5, 2010, and will run through Jan. 2, 2011. Candlelight Christmas Evenings, offering evening candlelight tours of Biltmore House, take place Nov. 12 through Jan. 1.
Biltmore celebrated several milestones in 2010, and each has influenced this year’s Christmas display. Both the annual Festival of Flowers and the Winery turned 25, and Antler Hill Village opened as a new guest experience. Décor that pays homage to these milestones will be evident throughout the House and the entire estate, said Cathy Barnhardt, Biltmore’s floral displays manager. “We were inspired by the legacy of agriculture established by George Vanderbilt,” said Barnhardt. “Our guests will see elements that represent the flowers in Biltmore’s gardens, gilded bird nests representing the forest surrounding the estate and décor that conveys the estate’s agricultural history.”
,p>Biltmore’s newest guest attraction, Antler Hill Village, will assume its place in the Biltmore holiday illumination tradition, with its buildings outlined in soft lighting. Estate-gathered greenery and vintage decor inspired by an archival photo of Antler Hall during Christmas 1916 will adorn all areas of the village. From the Civil War into the 1930s, Antler Hall served as a residence and social center for many estate families. The village was built on the Antler Hall property, and is an inviting place to unwind after touring Biltmore’s grounds. At Christmastime, the village will make the perfect place to create yuletide memories with family and friends. Activities will include live music and carolers in the Village Green bandstand; Christmas-themed cooking demonstrations; holiday decorating talks; and Vanderbilt Christmas traditions storytelling at the Biltmore Legacy building. Santa will visit with children on the weekends at Antler Hill Farm.
A Vanderbilt Family Christmas
An emphasis on Vanderbilt family history plays a large part in this year’s celebration. On Christmas Eve 1895, George Washington Vanderbilt opened Biltmore House for the first time to his friends and family. In subsequent years, Mr. Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith, welcomed family, friends and the estate’s 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 massive, 34-foot Fraser Fir tree, with garlands of evergreens, mistletoe and shining holly dressing the Banquet Hall dining table.
Christmas at Biltmore during the daytime includes tours of Biltmore House, the Gardens and Antler Hill Village. The village links to the Winery, where visitors may take a guided tour. The tour includes a complimentary wine tasting. Special seasonal seminars, such as “Red Wine & Chocolate,” are also available.
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. Guests may also visit Antler Hill Village (activities described below) when they attend Candlelight Christmas Evenings. The front lawn of Biltmore House will glow with a lighted 55-foot Norway spruce, surrounded by “islands” of smaller lighted trees and nursery shrubs. Candlelight Christmas Evenings will be held Nov. 12 through Jan. 1 and require a separate ticket for entry from daytime admission.
Holiday dining and lodging on the estate
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 guests looking to extend their stay at Biltmore, the four-star Inn offers several packages for holidays, including special New Year’s Eve packages. Biltmore boasts retail shops, all perfect for holiday gift shopping. Other activities include taking a cozy horse and carriage ride (blankets provided) and exploring acres of landscaped gardens.
Holiday decorating seminars
Guests can learn how to infuse a little bit of 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 and 3 p.m.).
For more information about Christmas at Biltmore, please visit www.biltmore.com.