Biltmore Estate tops any holiday display we've seen south of the North Pole. Our favorite festive scene is the entrance to the mansion, just as dusk settles. The glowing embers of sunset silhouette the towering building in soft orange and velvety purple. More than 300 luminarias flicker in subtle parchment hues, like so many Tinker Bells lining the huge panel of lawn.
During the Candlelight Christmas Evenings, Biltmore dazzles you with embellishments, transforming the magnificent mansion into a winter wonderland. Bells, bows, and bangles perch on every pedestal, tabletop, and horizontal surface in the château. You could stand in one spot in any room, turn slowly for 15 minutes, and still feel as if you've missed something. You probably did.
But you'd better not pout, better not cry. We're telling you why. Here's what not to miss on your tour.
Local choirs and musical groups give nightly concerts in the Winter Garden. The setting--surrounded by an ocean of poinsettias, lush green ferns, and swirling garland wreaths--harmonizes perfectly with the celestial music.
Yes, the big tree in the Banquet Hall is real--a Fraser fir, freshly cut and delivered to the estate. Because the event lasts more than a month, the tree is changed out halfway through the season. Ornaments off, and out with the old tree; then in with the new tree, and ornaments on. Listen for the sonorous tones from the pipe organ, tucked along the wall beside the tree.
But the real magic has to be the candlelit 3 ½-acre front lawn. In these days of digital effects and techno-blinking baubles, it's nice to know that something as simple as a candle in a paper sack can be so classically beautiful. But then again, that's Biltmore--classically beautiful, especially this time of year.