by Norma Poindexter

Just like wildly spirited children, we eagerly drive through Lodge Gate into Biltmore Estate, the country’s most palatial home, aglow at night in the crisp, winter mountain air with scores of illuminated, magical trees shimmering on the park-like grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, architect of Central Park(NY) and Piedmont Park(GA). Designated on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the chateau-esque mansion emanates live, seasonal holiday music favorites as we arrive, enthusiastically welcoming us to Christmas at Biltmore 2021. This year’s infamous Candlelight Tours start on November 5 th , 2021 and last until January 9 th , 2022, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

America’s largest private home with 175,000 square feet and 250 rooms, Biltmore Estate first welcomed George Vanderbilt’s guests on Christmas Eve in 1895. Vanderbilt had just constructed the magnificent mansion complete with electricity, due to his friendship with Thomas Edison, and a magnificent 35-foot fir tree in Banquet Hall. Today, a live, 35-foot Fraser Fir commemorates the first Christmas in the Banquet Hall, along with a proliferation of dazzling holiday decorations throughout Biltmore: one hundred elaborate, hand-decorated trees, over 25,000 sparkling ornaments, almost two miles of fresh garlands, five hundred well-appointed wreaths and sprays, 2,000 brilliant poinsettias, over one hundred mistletoe decorations to kiss under, and scores of holiday plants and decorations splashing the fabulous, indoor grand staircases. Outdoors, the magical scenery continues into the evening with a lit fifty-five- foot Norway spruce decorated with 50,000 lights and over four hundred hand-lit luminaries scattered across the lawn.

This immense property built from the Vanderbilts’ astonishing wealth is one of the must-see, historic homes in America, sprawling over 8,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The outside resembles a stunning French chateau in the Loire River Valley, with elaborately-carved stone figures and quirky gargoyles perched on the sprawling estate’s ledges. Inside, the sumptuous house resembles one of the world’s finest art museums with irreplaceable medieval tapestries, spectacular European sculptures, exquisite masterpiece paintings from all over the world, exceptional antique furniture, and detailed wood carvings. This richly-decorated castle also houses a priceless library with 10,000 rare volumes, a baronial banquet hall with seventy-foot ceilings, sixty-five courtly fireplaces, and forty-three bathrooms.

At Christmas time, Biltmore Estate’s immense manor rooms transform into smartly-themed, holiday treasure chests, with glorious, color-coordinated embellishments that glow like dazzling jewels. Intricately-decorated dollhouses and charming antique toys settle under the sensational holiday trees, and an astounding gingerbread replica of the stately mansion stands nobly near the bakery. The cavernous solarium is a remarkable site, with statues joyously decorated for the season in fancy, red bows and fragrant pine boughs. As the holiday spirit abounds and lifts high into the vast, beamed ceilings, lilting professional choirs and musicians perform beautiful, live music to enrich your magical Candlelight Tour.

After staying overnight at The Inn, the historic estate’s luxury hotel, you can explore the rest of the expansive estate the next day, including the Biltmore gift shops with unusual, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, gourmet restaurants, and the well-loved Biltmore Winery with sterling vintages and joyful wine- tasting in the elaborate tasting room. Many popular dates and times for the Candlelight Tours sell out well in advance, so please make plans and bookings well in advance for your selected holiday tour treat, and Happy Holidays.

Biltmore Estate | One Lodge Street Asheville, NC 28803 | +1.800.411.3812
Photos Courtesy of (Opening Image) & others via Biltmore Estate

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