The Holiday Season is Here in North Carolina; Just Ask the Man Who Installed the Christmas Lights at the Biltmore Estate

It doesn’t look like the holidays at my house at all.  In fact, I still have a black cat on my doorstep.

Knowing me, that cat may stay there greeting guests until we get the turkey out of the oven in two weeks. 

But another house in North Carolina is already decked out for the holiday season and is expected to welcome 300,000  guests from now through Jan. 2, 2012.

The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC

The Biltmore Estate, an 8,000-acre estate located in Asheville, North Carolina, looks like a storybook wonderland during the holidays.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, and many North Carolinians go every year because it certainly gets you in the Christmas spirit.  

One of the highlights is Candlelight Christmas Evenings.   In the evening, guests tour rooms lit by twinkling lights and firelight, reflected in thousands of ornaments.  Local choirs and small musical ensembles stationed in the Winter Garden will perform music of the season as guests enter Biltmore House.

Known for being one of the largest holiday displays in the Southeast, guests will see dozens and dozens of decorated Christmas trees and nearly 500 wreaths around the estate; 30,000 lights and 125 candles in Biltmore House, with another 125,000 lights around the estate.

The Banquet Hall Christmas Tree is 34--foot tall Fraser Fir
Can you imagine putting up all those lights? I can’t help but think of that Christmas song with the man who gets upset about the lights to the tune of “Twelve Days of Christmas.”   I think the Biltmore decorating elves deserve a big plate of cookies for the job they do each year.  It has to be tremendous work.

Around 45,000 lights illuminate the Front Lawn tree in front of the house. Three hundred luminaries line the driveway and Esplanade in front of Biltmore House.

Here are some other fun decorating stats:

There are over 57 decorated trees in the house.  The largest is a 34-foot tall Fraser fir in the Banquet hall.

Biltmore Estate uses 500 gift boxes, 500 ornaments and 500 electric lights to decorate the Banquet Hall Tree. They use around 12,000 on the other trees inside Biltmore House, and that many again around the estate, for a total of 25,000 or more.

The Banquet Hall in the Biltmore House

Fresh garlands are made of white pine and Fraser fir. Biltmore changes them weekly to keep them fresh for guests.  They use 5,000 feet during the season.  Silk, dried and artificial garlands add another 1,200 feet in Biltmore House and around 1,500 feet in other areas.

Biltmore uses mostly red poinsettias, with some white and a few marbled and pink.  In total, decorators place around 1,000 blooming plants throughout Biltmore House along with several hundred more in the other estate facilities.

I still think my two angels are a little young for us to make a five-hour car trip this season to see this exquisite mansion twinkle in holiday lights, but I can’t wait until we can see the magic in person. 

If you decide to take your family, Santa will be in Antler Hill Village on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m through December 18, and the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Want to Go:
Of course, I recommend staying at the Inn at Biltmore during any season, and it is even more charming and grand during the holidays.  The inn is currently offering a package that includes candlelight tour tickets, complimentary daytime estate admission, an audio tour guide, buffet breakfast, valet parking, and your own keepsake ornament. Deluxe king rates start at $554 per night.

Biltmore Estate has also partnered with other Asheville hotels for holiday packages.  The Renaissance Asheville Hotel is in a great location adjacent to many cafes and boutiques, and has a package with two daytime tickets to the Biltmore Estate for under $200.

Adult admission prices for the Candlelight Christmas Evenings Ticket are $69 Sunday through Thursday, and $79 Friday and Saturday evenings.  Each ticket has a timed entry into the house.  For a complete list of pricing for daytime admission and other packages, visit http://www.biltmore.com.

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