Christmas at Biltmore

Celebrating the holidays in grand Gilded Age style is a time-honored tradition at Asheville, N.C.'s Biltmore House. Tour the grand mansion, decked in Christmas finery, plus get decorating tips from Biltmore's experts so you can bring the luxe look home.

Decking the Halls, Biltmore Style

Tour the grand mansion decorated in holiday finery and get 13 easy project ideas from Biltmore's experts so you can bring a touch of the estate's timeless glamour to your home.

Making Biltmore Estate Sparkle

Get a sneak peek into holiday decorating at Asheville's Biltmore Estate.

Modeled after Loire Valley French chateaux and designed to be the centerpiece of a working estate, Biltmore House is America’s largest home and a shining example of Gilded Age glamour and 19th Century lifestyles of the truly rich and famous. To celebrate George and Edith Vanderbilt’s first Christmas in the home, the house and grounds were richly decorated for the season with miles of fresh evergreen garlands, hundreds of hand-tied bows, delicate, glittering ornaments and a massive Christmas tree towering over guests in the mansion’s Banquet Hall.

And, more than a century later, very little has changed. Relying on newspaper descriptions and estate records, Biltmore's design team works their magic each year to faithfully recreate the look of the Victorian Christmas that George and Edith Vanderbilt enjoyed when they welcomed their first guests in 1895.

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Christmas Comes to Biltmore House

Decorated with more than 45,000 white twinkling lights, this 55-foot-tall Norway spruce welcomes visitors to America's largest home.

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Biltmore House's Illuminated Front Lawn

Smaller evergreens and deciduous trees surround the massive spruce. In total, more than 50 decorated trees dot the grounds of the estate.

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

The Front Entry

Modeled after a French chateau, Biltmore House's facade features gargoyles, grotesques and other fanciful details that are signature of the style. This stone lion, standing sentinel near the home's massive front doors, is decorated with just one of the 360 fresh white pine and Fraser fir holiday wreaths.

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Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Biltmore House's Entry Hall

Draped with fresh white pine and Fraser fir garlands, miles of ribbon and twinkling lights, the Entry Hall is just as impressive for today's guests as it was for visitors more than a century ago.    

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

The Library

Swags of fresh evergreens and a brightly lit Christmas tree bring seasonal cheer to Biltmore House's massive, 40-by-60-foot, two-story library.

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Biltmore House's Grand Staircase

More fresh greenery decorates the 4-story iron chandelier that illuminates the sweeping cantilevered limestone staircase.

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

The Grand Staircase With Kissing Balls

More than 130 kissing balls can be found throughout Biltmore House. These greenery spheres have a storied past with roots in England during the Middle Ages. Like mistletoe, the greenery bunches symbolize good fortune and fertility.  

Photo By: Biltmore House

Candlelit Tour

A combination of pillar candles, firelight and twinkling Christmas tree lights wash Biltmore House's nearly 500-year-old Flemish tapestries in a warm, golden glow.  

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

The Banquet Hall Fireplace

Brightly lit Christmas trees flank the carved stone triple fireplace in Biltmore House's largest room the cavernous Banquet Hall.   

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Fresh Evergreen Garland and Wreath

A large fresh wreath and illuminated evergreen garlands top the Banquet Hall's stone overmantel carved by famed sculptor Karl Bitter. Biltmore House's floral team replaces greenery weekly to maintain a fresh look and scent for holiday visitors.  

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

The Main Event

One of the most anticipated holiday traditions at Biltmore House is the annual tree raising. Hundreds of visitors gather to watch as a 40-person team carefully maneuvers the massive Christmas tree past priceless antiques and into position in the Banquet Hall.

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Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Easy Does It

Due to the irreplacable nature of Biltmore House's architecture and antiques, no heavy equipment is used to transport or position the massive 35-foot Fraser fir. Instead, the crew carefully raises it using ropes and pulleys, carefully avoiding the Banquet Hall's chandelier.    

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Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Everything by Hand

Just as the tree is brought in by hand, crew members must inspect every light before they begin decorating the tree to ensure that every detail is perfect for holiday visitors. 

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

A Tall Decorating Order

As you might imagine, decorating Biltmore House's  35-foot-tall tree requires a lot of ornaments: 500 wrapped gift boxes, 500 traditional glass ornaments and 500 electric lights, in the Edison bulb style, to be exact.

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

A Family Tradition

More than a century after the first Christmas tree was raised in the Banquet Hall at Biltmore House, very little has changed. Relying on newspaper descriptions and estate records, the design team accurately recreates the look of the Gilded Age Christmas that George and Edith Vanderbilt enjoyed when they welcomed their first guests in 1895.

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

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