6 Reasons to Visit the Biltmore This Holiday Season

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Biltmore Christmas

The Christmas tree on Biltmore’s lawn stands 60 feet tall. Photo credit: Lynne Harty

In a world that’s been turned upside down by a pandemic, there’s something to be said about the comfort of tradition. And during the holiday season, no place exudes Christmas cheer quite like the Biltmore in Asheville, which has celebrated the holidays each year for more than a century. This year marks the 125th anniversary of when George Vanderbilt first opened Biltmore House to his friends and family.

“He built the house, moved in in October 1895 and December was the first time people came to visit,” explains LeeAnn Donnelly, Biltmore’s senior public relations manager. “You could think of it as a housewarming party.”

The modern-day celebration, which began in 1976, typically attracts some 400,000 guests between November and January. Despite many changes to keep visitors and staff safe this year due to COVID-19 (including mask requirements indoors), the Biltmore still plans to glorify the festive season this year with a theme of an 1895 Christmas.

“Biltmore and the holidays are a match made in heaven – it’s so lovely and beautiful and peaceful here, and I think that people who visit would agree that it’s just a wonderful tradition,” Donnelly says.

See more: Behind the Biltmore Estate: 7 Things You Didn't Know About America's Largest Home

– Kelsey Ogletree

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Experience Candlelight Christmas Evenings

Biltmore Christmas

Photo credit: Lynne Harty

A hallmark of Biltmore during the holidays, Candlelight Christmas Evenings offer visitors an extraordinary experience after dark. “All the fireplaces are lit, and you have the glow of 150 candles and the Christmas trees – it takes on a whole different feel,” Donnelly says. In several rooms, solo musicians provide background music, while overall the tours are quieter, almost a spiritual experience. People tend to whisper when speaking on these tours, Donnelly adds. Biltmore staff prepares and lights 250 luminaries each day at dusk for guests arriving in the evening tours, placing them along the driveway and esplanade in front of the home (talk about a photo opportunity!). Upgrade to the top tier of candlelight admission to receive a custom 90-minute guided tour, free parking and daytime access the day of or day after.

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