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Christmas at Biltmore

by habituallychic

12 . 11 . 07

There are certain places that stay with you long after you visit them. Biltmore House in Ashville, North Carolina is one of those places for me. I visited it when I was about 11 years old and it has made a lasting impression. I even wrote a paper about it in college for my architectural art history class. My visit was in the summer but I dream of visiting Biltmore House again someday at Christmas when the house is filled with spectacular decorations.

It takes a staff of 1,800 a full month to light and decorate over 100 Christmas trees, hang 9,000 feet of fresh garland and hang thousands of ornaments for the more than 300,000 visitors that visit during the holiday season. And you thought decorating your house was a challenge!

Even though, outside decorations were rare at the turn of the 19th century, the lions are now decorated for the holidays with fresh wreaths.

A 35-foot live Fraser fir is placed in the Banquet Hall of Biltmore House every holiday season and takes 45 people to raise the tree since they must be careful not to damage the priceless tapestries or chandeliers. The tradition of having a tree in this room goes back to 1895 when George Vanderbilt first opened the home to his family and friends.

When George Vanderbilt first welcomed guests to Biltmore House on Christmas Eve in 1895 his guests were treated to lavish and festive holiday decor. Today that tradition is kept alive each year and it is the only time when visitors are allowed in the house at night.

During Christmas at Biltmore tall trees line the 90-foot-long halls of the Tapestry Gallery As guests enter the Library a warm glow from the room’s large fireplace is cast upon the bookshelves and the Pellegrini ceiling canvas.

The Library is particularly inviting during Candlelight Christmas Evenings with a fire in the massive fireplace throwing dancing shadows across more than 10,000 books.

The Grand Staircase is twined with live evergreen, filling the 250-room Biltmore House with the scent of Christmas.

The black marble fireplace surround and walnut overmantle in George Vanderbilt’s impressive library are decorated with garlands made by the Biltmore floral staff during the holiday season.

During Candlelight Christmas Evenings, the Oak Sitting Room glows in the light from candles and matching fireplaces at either end of the room.

During Candlelight Christmas Evenings, Biltmore House is lit by luminaries outside creating an even more beautiful tableaux. I hope those who can visit Biltmore House will make the pilgrimage no matter the time of the year and for those who can’t, I hope you are inspired to create a magical Christmas at your own home. Happy Holidays!

Comments Closed

  1. Sam December 11, 2007 | 5:33 am

    The Biltmore is a breathtaking place and I understand what you mean about this place…I went there in my early 20s, when I began to really appreciate home decor and architecture and it has definitely made a lasting impression on me. The backdrops of the blue ridge mountains also make this area just a feast for the eyes. I hope to make a trip out there one day very soon!

  2. Habitually Chic December 11, 2007 | 2:45 pm

    Sam, I hope you do make another trip soon. For me, I was lucky enough to visit Fallingwater and Biltmore when I was young and they both left me with a love of historic architecture and interior design. I wonder if kids these days would ever leave the computer long enough to visit one of these wonderful places.

  3. Brilliant Asylum December 11, 2007 | 4:26 pm

    I definitely need to plan a trip as an adult. I went in 1984 and was totally impressed with it, but it would be nice to apply all that I have learned in the meantime. My thoughts at the time were “This is just like the house on Silver Spoons”.

  4. Easy and Elegant Life December 11, 2007 | 7:30 pm

    That’s what I’m lacking… staff.

    Thanks for the beautiful images and post, off to buy some garlanding and wreathes for the library.

  5. Habitually Chic December 11, 2007 | 7:33 pm

    BA, you’re too funny. They also used it in the Richie Rich movie 😉

  6. Habitually Chic December 11, 2007 | 7:34 pm

    Easy and Elegant, I feel your pain. I can’t even get my act together to finish decorating my apartment!

  7. Easy and Elegant Life December 11, 2007 | 7:50 pm

    Nice to know I’m in good company.

  8. Hill Country House Girl December 12, 2007 | 12:19 am

    What a lovely post. I have only visited the Biltmore in the summer. I can’t even imagine decorating such a house for the holidays! Thanks so much – makes my Christmas decorating job seem small.

  9. Me, Myself, & I December 12, 2007 | 4:07 am

    Biltmore Estate is absoutley stunning! And even more stunning (if that’s possible) decorated. What a beautiful post.

  10. wutsua December 12, 2007 | 4:33 pm

    Nice blog. I will keep reading. Please take the time to visit my blog about Badcock Furniture

  11. Habitually Chic December 12, 2007 | 6:40 pm

    wutsua, I would appreciate it if you would stop leaving comments on my blog. I have contacted Badcock Furniture’s corporate office and they are looking into who you are since it looks like you have created an unauthorized blog for them. If you don’t stop, I will turn on the comment moderation feature and delete your comments. Thanks.

  12. Robyn McMaster December 12, 2007 | 10:12 pm

    Absolutely incredible. Thanks for bringing us such a gorgeously decorated “castle.”

  13. fichu December 12, 2007 | 10:33 pm

    What always boggled my brain was that Biltmore was built to house just one person, George Washington Vanderbilt. Then he got married and had one child and promptly died (relatively speaking). So it was home to just two people for ages!

  14. Lyndsey December 18, 2007 | 5:41 pm

    I try to visit Biltmore each year during the holiday season…I do love it at Christmas time (although, it’s very busy on weekends). It has so much charm. I would suggest booking a stay at the Inn on Biltmore Estate; staying on the estate would make the trip very memorable.

    The estate is wonderful all year round; there’s a different festival going on nearly every month. I enjoy going every few months, to spend time outdoors on the estate. I’m a NC resident, though, so it makes it a bit easier to spend an afternoon there.

  15. Jeanne February 2, 2008 | 6:51 pm

    Lovely blog, and I love this subject in particular. My daughter lives in Asheville with her family, and we’ve been there several times. Since she has purchased an annual pass, she can bring guests free on certain dates, which we take advantage of. The Biltmore House is a stunning way to spend an afternoon. For those who appreciate history, architecture, and lineage, it holds everything you need! The gardens are stunning at the height of the summer. The view of the hills takes your breath away! I’ve yet to try the winery tastings, but I plan to this summer.