Biltmore Does Decorations

IMG_1525 (640x480)A few years ago, my husband and I splurged on season passes to the Biltmore Estate. It’s an easy drive from our house, and we like to walk or bike on the extensive grounds as weather permits. In recent years, the Biltmore has had special costume exhibits—Dressing Downton in 2015, Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film in 2016, and, in 2017, Designed for Drama: Fashion from the Classics. So we keep renewing our passes in November, figuring we’ll regret it if we don’t. Coming in 2018: an exhibit of costumes from Titanic in February and, in the spring, Chihuly glass in Biltmore’s gardens!

My husband had a day off this week, so we gathered the children who were willing to go and went on a daytime tour of the Biltmore. There is also a Candlelight Christmas tour, but it costs extra, even for passholders, and we were already paying for our two college kids, who don’t have passes. The evening tour features musicians performing in various rooms; apparently, a Victorian-style Santa makes an appearance. Still, I was satisfied with strolling through the beautifully decorated mansion while sunlight filtered in through the windows. Happily, someone was playing Christmas music on the organ while we were in the Banquet Hall, which showcases a 35-foot live Frasier fir that is replaced twice during the Christmas season!

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Posing with the lions in front of the Biltmore is a long-standing tradition.

Since I’m really supposed to be shopping today—Christmas is in three days! Yikes!—I’ll go straight to sharing the pictures that I took on Tuesday. Cameras used to be off limits inside the Biltmore House, but perhaps the power of social media changed that ruling. Visitors are now permitted to take non-flash photos inside George Vanderbilt’s mansion. Inveterate shutterbug though I am, I have mixed feelings about taking pictures in the house: inevitably, there is a logjam in the line moving through the rooms as people stop to take pictures. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have these pictures to share with you if pictures were still banned.

In deference to my college son, who claims that as a small child he was dragged through the Biltmore House on numerous occasions, I tried to keep my picture-taking to a minimum. I will tell you, though, that every single bedroom or sitting room had at least one tree, not to mention the garlands and wreaths festooning mantels and doorways. But, at a certain point, I put my iPhone in my purse and tried to leave it there. Here is a tiny glimpse inside the glimmering magic of the Biltmore House in its Christmas glory:

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Since it was a pleasant day, we strolled out onto the Tennis Courts and down to the Conservatory. Then we headed over to Antler Hill Village, which has been gorgeously decorated with lights. On our way, we spotted some deer grazing—not an uncommon sight at the Biltmore Estate.

Fortunately, it was just starting to get dark as we left, so we got a partial experience of the lights at Antler Hill Village at night. Happily, passholders can bring non-passholders onto the Antler Hill part of the Estate after 5 p.m. Maybe we’ll make it back before the holidays are over—but maybe we won’t: we still haven’t seen the Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum or gone to see the gingerbread houses from the annual competition at the Grove Park Inn this year. Asheville is an awesome place at Christmas-time!

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16 thoughts on “Biltmore Does Decorations

  1. Pingback: Up on the Roof | sappy as a tree: celebrating beauty in creation

  2. I loved the Biltmore when I was there! It’s been a while since then, but I remember how beautiful it was. I actually went to school at Vanderbilt, so when I was driving from Nashville to Charlotte I had to stop by and spend some time there.

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  3. We visited Biltmore in October 1993 and took the full tour, which includes a lot of the areas generally not seen on the regular tour, which included the kitchens, bedrooms, and the basement, which looked like it was still done up for a party. An amazing place, way ahead of its time. I especially liked the slab of marble used as the electrical panel.

    Before we left for the Smoky Mountains, we went to Mass at the Basilica of St. Lawrence, which I guess had just been elevated to the rank of minor basilica. The pastor was an interesting character…

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    • I’m glad you and Mary got to see the Biltmore Estate, John: yes, definitely ahead of its time. It always makes me sad that George Vanderbilt died at a relatively young age (51); he certainly left a legacy that has benefited not only his descendants but Asheville. The Basilica is beautiful, too (no personal knowledge about its clergy, though).

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    • Yesterday my husband gave me a book about the Biltmore that I’m looking forward to reading. Yes, there is honestly too much to see in a whole day, with grounds, winery (which we skipped), and the exhibits at Antler Hill. Sadly, you don’t get to see quite as many rooms per visit as you used to; my husband asked about that on a recent visit, and it has to do with the light coming into rooms. My daughter was a little disappointed that she didn’t get to see a corner bedroom that she loves, but I get that things change over time.

      The first time I went to the Biltmore was in the 1980s, and we had an actual tour guide. Who knew I’d end up living in Asheville? Not I!

      I’m glad you’ve had a chance to see it, Beth: truly an American castle!

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      • The two tiered library was magnificent, and the leather walls in the banquet room could not be equaled anywhere else. However, my favorite room was the laundry room where dirty clothes were sent down a chute to maids who washed and ironed all day long. 😉

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  4. Lovely! If I am ever in your neighborhood I’m goign to have to check out that estate.
    I had a pass to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a few years, so my kids could commisserate with your son on being brought many endless times. The seasons always change, so to me, it never looks the same!

    Happy Christmas, Sandy ^_^

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    • It is really an amazing place (and there is so much more that I didn’t photograph). I never tire of going through the house, although it is more pleasant to walk through the house when it’s less crowded. It’s also less decorated then, though.

      Merry Christmas to you, too!

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