We all dream of that perfect holiday season. The one filled with family togetherness, Christmas trees with lights, homemade hot cocoa and Christmas movies. Often times, the reality of the Christmas holidays can bring on endless busyness. I believe that in order to fully appreciate the holidays, taking a family Christmas vacation can really help set our sights, in perspective of a truly beautiful family holiday. This helps us to step away from the day-to-day and set it in another light.
Christmas at the Biltmore
The weekend after my fourthieth birthday, we packed the car and had our eyes set for the stunning Asheville, North Carolina, the backdrop of George Vanderbilt’s famous estate.
This is the Biltmore’s 125 year of welcoming guests into the estate. The Biltmore begins decorating in November with more than 60 Christmas trees, 13,000 ornaments, thousands of lights, beautiful poinsettias and ribbons all adorn the majestic estate.
On the front lawn of the Biltmore House, a breathtaking, 55-foot-tall Norway spruce with 45,000 plus lights and is lit for the candlelight evenings.
In the Banquet Hall of the Biltmore House, a 35-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree is brought in by 50 helpers! It is even replaced mid holiday season to ensure a fresh tree. The replacement tree arrives to the house by 4 AM and decorated by the time the first guests arrive by 9 AM. The tree is decorated with 500 ornament, 500 lights and 500 packages, as George Vanderbilt decorated the tree.
History of Christmas at the Biltmore
George Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith along with their daughter, Cornelia, spent many Christmases together in the Biltmore House, creating many traditions that continue today. George Vanderbilt’s descendant s, the Cecil family, now the estate’s owners and caretakers, host the annual employee holiday party, just like the Vanderbilt’s did. The Vanderbilt’s also made sure that each employee’s child had a Christmas gift and the Cecil family continues this tradition today. Records even show that Edith Vanderbilt kept notes on what gift each child received every year to avoid repeating gift in the years to follow. The lists still exist, as well as receipts from FAO Schwartz detailing some of the toys and games she purchased.
The Biltmore at Christmas
Throughout the house and other buildings on the estate, you will find 55 plus decorated Christmas trees, each created by Biltmore designers, all with different themes each year.
Every detail of the estate is covered in Christmas cheer and almost every room in the home has it’s own Christmas tree.
Not only is the home absolutely stunning with Christmas decor, the exquisite details of the estate will wow just about anyone!
From the medieval tapestries, some dating back to the 1500’s, the detailed wood prints, exquisite paintings, 70-foot ceilings to the 10,000 rare volume priceless library!
Estate Shops: Carriage House Shop
After touring the Biltmore House, we walked over to the Carriage House to find our keepsake ornament of the trip. We found many beautiful ornaments such as handpainted glass, wood and porcelain. We also picked up a book about the Biltmore and I have enjoyed reading the history of the Vanderbilts.
Estate Shops: Toymaker’s
My youngest daughter was jumping at the chance to head to the Toymaker’s toy shop! She chose a stuffed Cedric dog, which was the family dog of the Vanderbilts! I also picked up a couple pencils and a pen as souvineers.
Estate Shops: Confectionery
Why not induldge yourself with an array of treats at the Confectionery candy shop!
Our family chose several chocolate treats and they were worth waiting in line! From cookies to truffles, our family enjoyed grabbing a few of these before heading home!
TIPS FOR VISITING THE BILTMORE
I did not wear tennis shoes but I would definitely recommend it! Purchase your tickets before you go! Purchase an audio for your visit. Allow time to get park and ride the bus to the estate.
The Biltmore is a stunning place! We loved Asheville and will definitely be back! We may even make it a yearly tradition!