Pastry chefs transport the gingerbread version of Biltmore House to the mansion.
Warehouses contain Christmas ornaments dried flowers and other holiday decorations.
- It took six years to build Biltmore House, which opened in 1895.
- The house contains 4 acres of floorspace.
- Biltmore House has 250 rooms including 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 3 kitchens.
- When the house was built, the property featured 30 miles of roadways.
- Biltmore Estate has 1,500 employees.
- Christmas themes are planned 10 years in advance at Biltmore Estate. The 2004 theme is "A Gardener's Christmas."
- It takes 108 hours to decorate the gingerbread house.
- The gingerbread house weighs 100 pounds and features 1,400 gingerbread bricks.
- Approximately 200 different musical groups perform during the Christmas season.
- Two warehouses provide storage for 500 boxes of ornaments.
- The staff uses 20,000 feet of garland.
- During Candlelight Christmas Evenings, the four restaurants serve 500 to 600 meals per day.
- It takes eight hours to decorate the big tree in the Banquet Hall.
- Five hundred luminarias light the drive leading to Biltmore House.
- About 750 poinsettias, all grown in the greenhouse, decorate the mansion.
Visiting Biltmore Estate
When you go to see the spectacular seasonal show at this fabulous mansion, take note of all the special things happening.
Don't miss visiting this wonderful destination during the holidays. Here is some information to help you navigate Biltmore Estate, as well as tips about special dinners and other seasonal events.
You'll find the property just south of downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Enter from U.S. 25, three blocks north of I-40's Exit 50.
Note: Cabs do not service the Asheville airport. Arrange for a car to pick you up by calling Pegasus Transportation at (828) 281-4600.
Self-guided daytime house tours cost $39 adults, $19.50 ages 6-16. (Tip: For an additional $7, rent a holiday audio guide, which will explain what you are seeing, room by room.)
Admission for Candlelight Christmas Evenings (available November 6-January 2 by reservation only; 1-800-624-1575) ranges $40-$45 adults, $20-$22.50 ages 6-16. Admission also includes the grounds, Biltmore Estate Winery, Historic Horse Barn, gift shops, and restaurants. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
Take a self-guided tour, enjoy complimentary wine tastings, and see cooking demonstrations throughout the season. Pick up a bottle of Christmas wine ($10.99), made especially for this year. Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; 1-800-543-2961.
Stable Café offers special Candlelight dinners, which include a choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert inspired by George Vanderbilt's 1904 Christmas menu. Cost: $29.95. Reservations required; (828) 225-6370.
Deerpark Restaurant, located between the inn and Biltmore House, offers a family-style buffet for lunch that features regional favorites. Cost: $14.95 for ages 10 and older. Sunday brunch runs $21.95. Ask about Breakfast With St. Nicholas when you call; (828) 225-6260.
Bistro, located at the winery, serves lunch or dinner. Try the wood-fired pizzas. Cost: Entrées start at $12; (828) 225-1642.
The Dining Room, a white-tablecloth restaurant in the inn, offers the best in estate-raised beef, vegetables, and lamb. Cost: Entrées start at $20; (828) 225-1642.
Christmas Traditions Fireside Chat: Enjoy spending an hour in Mr. Vanderbilt's den hearing about holiday traditions of the Vanderbilt families. Hours: 10 a.m. daily during the holidays. Cost: $14. During Candlelight Christmas Evenings, enjoy musical entertainment as you tour the house at night by the glow of Christmas trees and candlelight. Enjoy special classes in A Gardener's Place (prices vary), and take a 45-minute carriage ride around the property ($35 per person).
Make your holiday really special by staying at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. Make reservations for the Candlelight Christmas package, which comes with breakfast buffet, valet parking, guidebook, and most gratuities. Park your car; then take the continuously running free shuttle to Biltmore House, the Winery, and back to the inn. Cost: Packages start at $210 per person, per night; (828) 225-1660.
The Wine Shop offers much more than all the varieties of wine made and sold at Biltmore Estate. Cookbooks, reproduction Biltmore Estate china, serving pieces, and other houseware items make this a terrific browsing and buying spot; (828) 225-6280.
A Gardener's Place features a wonderful array of gardening and home decor items; (828) 225-1427.
Shops next to Biltmore House include A Christmas Past, which offers Christmas ornaments and gift items; (828) 225-6354.
Bookbinder's has books for young and old and features a nice number of volumes on the Vanderbilt family; (828) 225-6359.
The Carriage House is another large shop that has everything from ornaments to purses to T-shirts and videos; (828) 225-6353. Feed your sweet tooth at the Confectionery; (828) 225-6358.
Toymaker's will bring out the child in everyone; (828) 225-6357.
Mercantile, at the Historic Horse Barn, tempts shoppers with made-in-America pottery, kitchen utensils, and other necessities; (828) 225-1535.
And the two gift shops at the inn--Cottage Door and Marble Lion--also offer a good selection of Biltmore Estate souvenirs, clothing, and sundries.
This article is from the December 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.