When Biltmore opens its doors for this year's Christmas Celebration, the excitement will be contagious. Plan your visit with my Local Guide to Biltmore at Christmas.
Behind the Scenes with a Local
I've lived in Asheville, NC all of my life, and have visited the Biltmore Estate hundreds of times. My mother retired from working at Biltmore, and many of our family outings were spent on the grounds exploring new treasures. For this reason, I hold a special place in my heart for this beautiful estate...especially during the holidays.
It's true what they say about George Vanderbilt's majestic home. It's enchanting, magical, and grander than you could ever imagine!
On my last visit, it was one of the most beautiful nights I can remember. The sun was setting in its vivid glory, casting a reflection on the pool in front of the Biltmore House that was simply breathtaking.
Like us, George Vanderbilt must have loved watching reflections of his vast home shimmering on the water. When he built his famous mansion, he made sure there were reflecting pools in all the right places.
Vanderbilt inherited a massive amount of wealth from his family who made their fortune in the steamboat and railroad businesses. In 1889, George set out to build the largest private home in the United States, which he ultimately named Biltmore. But, even with his fortune, Vanderbilt had a grasp on the importance of treating people kindly...especially his workers on the estate.
Every year, Vanderbilt would throw a huge party for the children of his employees, and made sure each one had a special gift. Christmas at Biltmore became an event to remember, and George's family has been very gracious to carry on that tradition throughout the years.
Mr. Vanderbilt also had the same vision for every room in his house. If you're lucky enough to visit Biltmore at Christmas, it's something to behold. There are twinkling lights, gorgeous trees, and elaborate decorations in every nook and cranny. You can't help but imagine what it must have been like to live there so many years ago.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The daytime Christmas Celebration at Biltmore is from November 6, 2020 to January 10, 2021.
- Biltmore has changed the traffic patterns around the Biltmore House and adjacent gardens. These areas will be for pedestrian traffic only. Shuttles will be available to take guests from place to place, or you can drive your own car.
- Passholders and guests staying on the estate will enjoy an express lane that bypasses daily admission lines.
- Purchase tickets online at least 7 days in advance for the best rates.
- Book the Audio Guide when you purchase tickets. The info is worth it!
- Dress casually. It's a fancy house, but you don't have to dress up unless you want to. Wear comfortable shoes because you're going to be walking more than you think, especially if you visit the gardens.
- The Biltmore Estate is a huge place, and includes several destinations in one ticket price. Allow extra time for Antler Hill Village and the Winery. They are both fun attractions you'll want to visit, even if you aren't a wine drinker.
- Make time for snacks...especially Biltmore Dairy Bar Ice Cream which can be found in the stable area at the house, or in Antler Hill Village.
- The best time to purchase an annual pass is in January. Rates are lower then, and you'll receive lots of great discounts for the entire year...including first dibs at buying summer concert tickets.
Tips for a Great Visit
- During busy times, it's best to visit the Biltmore House when most folks are leaving. Try to schedule your visit for the last appointment time of the day (which is usually around 3 to 4 pm). Once you're in the house, they allow you to finish the tour even if you're there past closing. By visiting the Biltmore House later, it frees up your entire morning to explore Antler Hill Village, the Winery, and Lagoon when fewer guests are there.
- ONE DAY SCHEDULE: I recommend driving your own car so you can access areas the shuttles don't travel. If you're only visiting for one day, plan to tour Antler Hill Village in the morning as soon as it opens. Make reservations in advance for lunch at the Bistro, Cedrics, or Village Social. Visit the Winery afterwards for your free wine tasting. If there's time, drive to the secret Lagoon for some breathtaking photographs! Next, make your way to the Biltmore House and stroll to the gardens. Then, travel back to the Biltmore House for your late afternoon tour. After the tour, visit the shops in the stable area because they will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit!
- Consider purchasing Candlelight Christmas or Behind the Scenes Rooftop Tour tickets. They're definitely worth it, and will give you more time to enjoy the house in all its splendor.
- Weeks in advance, make reservations at the Stable Cafe for dinner if you're planning to stay for Candlelight Christmas. Or, plan to eat at one of 85 Top Restaurants in Downtown Asheville after your tour.
- If you love Biltmore Wine, consider joining their Wine Club which is truly awesome. Local wine club members get a free glass of premium wine every day of the year at the winery. You can take your friends too!
- Don't miss the secret Lagoon which is the local's coveted oasis. It's located on the road from the Biltmore House to Antler Hill Village.
Biltmore House Highlights
Look for these fun sights around the Biltmore House...
- Napoleon's chess set
- Secret door panels in the Billiard Room originally off-limits to women
- Elaborate painting by Pellegrini on the ceiling in the library
- Reflections of the landscape in windows and water.
- Exercise room, swimming pool and bowling alley in the basement
- Ornate bathrooms
- Sunset on the terrace
- Gargoyles on every corner
- 107 steps in the Grand Staircase and 72 lightbulbs in the Chandelier
- Rotisserie kitchen, dumb waiter, and walk-in refrigerators
The lagoon is one of the best kept secrets at Biltmore, and easy to miss if you don't know where it's located. It happens to be one of my favorite spots on the grounds, and you'll often find locals there on a sunny afternoon.
From the shores of the lagoon, you can look towards the Biltmore House and see its reflection staring back at you. It's the perfect spot to take a family photo, or have a picnic and enjoy that bottle of vino you just purchased at the Winery. Be sure to bring an opener and cups with you (which you can buy at the Winery as well).
You can walk or bike to the lagoon from Antler Hill Village, but it's a good hike. I recommend driving there after visiting the Winery. You have to go through the parking lot to access the road, but if you ask a guide for directions to the lagoon, they'll be glad to help.
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