Christmas at Biltmore Story Ideas
George Andrews and family have worked for more than 30 years with Biltmore’s “family” to ensure that one of Biltmore’s key Christmas elements – maybe THE Christmas element – is absolutely perfect. Since 1975, the Andrews family has supplied the 35-foot-tall Fraser fir trees that have graced the seven-story-high Banquet Hall during each holiday. The relationship between the Andrews Nursery and Biltmore runs deep. The family dedicated a side of their mountain nursery to the estate. The trees on this lot overlook the beautiful valleys of the Blue Ridge and are grown especially for Biltmore’s holiday celebration.
Our largest celebration of the year began on Christmas Eve 1895 when George Vanderbilt welcomed his family and friends for the first time to his new home in North Carolina. He and his wife, Edith, and their daughter, Cornelia, spent many Christmases together in Biltmore House, creating traditions that we honor today. Mr. Vanderbilt’s descendants – the Cecil family, now the estate’s owners and caretakers – host the annual employee holiday party, just like the Vanderbilts did. The Cecil family makes sure each child of each estate employee receives a gift, a custom that Edith started when she was a young mother and hostess of Biltmore. Our archivists tell us that Edith kept copious notes on what each child received each year to avoid repeating a gift in the years to follow. These lists exist, as well as receipts from FAO Schwarz detailing some of the toys and games she purchased for the children. Today, after our last guests are touring the House on the day of the employee party, a team from our special events department fills the Winter Garden floor with the 1,000+ wrapped gifts for the party, where Santa and the Cecils will hand them out to each child later that night.
Biltmore has lots of repeat visitors throughout the year, many of them annual passholders. A dedicated group of them are holiday lovers who visit every year on the day in November when we raise the 35-foot-tall Christmas tree inside Biltmore House. “Tree-Raising Day” isn’t an event we promote heavily, but attendance has grown through the years by word of mouth. Often traveling in from other states, they begin lining up on the driveway in front of the House to welcome Santa as he escorts the tree traveling on a horse-drawn flat-bed wagon. Other guests have already filed into the House to claim a spot at the rope for the best viewing once the tree arrives in the Banquet Hall. After all, it’s not every day that a crew of 40 people maneuvers a multi-ton tree through the halls of America’s Largest Home, connects it to pulleys and ropes, and raises it carefully into its place, where it will reign as the home’s holiday centerpiece. We’ve met and talked with Biltmore lovers who come every year for the event and who have told us it’s how they kick off the holiday season for themselves and their families.
Looking for a larger-than-life Christmas experience for the entire family? Every year, Christmas at Biltmore becomes an annual holiday tradition for families across the Southeast. Biltmore’s extravagant holiday décor provides a beautiful backdrop for family visits. Biltmore House is filled with Christmas trees, with the centerpiece being the Banquet Hall’s 35-foot Fraser fir. The House sparkles with 30,000 twinkling lights, hundreds of candles reflecting in thousands of ornaments, while miles of garland accent every corner. Outside, 300 hand-lit luminaries adorn Biltmore House’s Front Lawn and draw attention to the lighted 55-foot Norway spruce draped with 45,000+ lights.