Visit Itinerary: The Magic of Christmas at Biltmore

With so many must-see and do activities during Christmas at Biltmore, you may be wondering how to make the most of your festive visit to the grand estate.

This flexible Biltmore visit itinerary is designed to be easily tailored based on your reservation times and preferences, allowing you to choose between a dazzling Daytime visit or an elegant evening aglow with candlelit wonder with a Candlelight visit.

Tip: Be sure to customize your visit itinerary based on Biltmore’s activities and events that will make your Christmas visit even more memorable!

@madelynonthemove experiencing the magic of Christmas at Biltmore
@madelynonthemove experiencing the magic of Christmas at Biltmore

Option 1: Daytime Celebration Visit Itinerary

🎄 Morning Biltmore House Visit (1.5 to 2 hours):

Step into the grandeur of Biltmore House, beautifully adorned with twinkling lights and festive decor. Explore the opulent rooms and immerse yourself in the spirit of Christmas during a daytime visit with a complimentary audio guide.

Tip: Advanced reservations are required for all Biltmore House visits. If your reservation is in the afternoon or early evening, you may choose to explore the Gardens or Antler Hill Village first!

🥗 Lunch at an Estate Restaurant (1.5 hours):
Indulge in a delightful meal at one of Biltmore’s distinctive restaurants, including Stable Café, Cedric’s Tavern, Bistro, and Village Social.

Tip: Reservations are highly recommended during this popular season.

🌺 Afternoon Gardens and Conservatory Visit (1 to 2 hours):
Take a leisurely stroll through Biltmore’s historic gardens and Conservatory. Admire the meticulously maintained greenhouses filled with tropical plants and holiday displays.

Tip: Select ticket types include free next-day access to explore the estate’s gardens and grounds.

🎟️ Chihuly at Biltmore exhibition (1.5 to 2 hours):
On view March 25, 2024, through January 5, 2025, a new experience of the artist’s iconic creations makes its debut at Biltmore Estate. Presented in an intimate gallery setting at Amherst at Deerpark®, Chihuly at Biltmore includes pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of ChandeliersTowersMille Fiori, and Neon.

Tip: Access is included with select ticket types and guests may visit at their reserved entry time selected during the purchase process. If your reserved entry time is in the morning, you may choose to have your reserved Biltmore House visit in the afternoon.

🥂 Evening Antler Hill Village & Winery Visit (2 hours):
Linger into the evening in Antler Hill Village where holiday splendor and our award-winning winery await. Shop for unique holiday gifts, such as handcrafted ornaments or gourmet treats, and find the perfect souvenirs and stocking stuffers to remember your Christmas at Biltmore experience. Learn about the Vanderbilt family and their life at home and abroad at The Biltmore Legacy.

Tip: If you’re traveling with small children, be sure to visit Pisgah Playground, the Farmyard, and Antler Hill Barn for educational fun for all ages.

Guests enjoy the Candlelight Christmas Evenings audio tour as they marvel at awe-inspiring décor in the Banquet Hall.
Guests enjoy the Candlelight Christmas Evenings audio tour as they marvel at awe-inspiring décor in the Banquet Hall.

 Option 2: Candlelight Christmas Evenings

🎟️ Chihuly at Biltmore exhibition (1.5 to 2 hours):
On view March 25, 2024, through January 5, 2025, a new experience of the artist’s iconic creations makes its debut at Biltmore Estate. Presented in an intimate gallery setting at Amherst at Deerpark®, Chihuly at Biltmore includes pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of ChandeliersTowersMille Fiori, and Neon.

Tip: Access is included with select ticket types and guests may visit at their reserved entry time selected during the purchase process. 

🌺 Afternoon Gardens and Conservatory Visit (1 to 2 hours):
Take a leisurely stroll through Biltmore’s historic gardens and Conservatory. Admire the meticulously maintained greenhouses filled with tropical plants and holiday displays.

Tip: Candlelight Christmas Evenings admission includes same-day or next-day access to explore the gardens, grounds, and Winery. See our FAQs for more info.

🕯️ Candlelight Christmas Evenings Biltmore House Visit (1.5 to 2 hours):
Experience the epitome of yuletide magic with Candlelight Christmas Evenings in Biltmore House. Wander through historic rooms aglow with the soft light of lit fireplaces, marvel at the beautiful decor, and enjoy live holiday music echoing through the halls.

Tip: Advanced reservations are required for all Biltmore House visits. If your reservation is in the late evening, you may choose to explore the Gardens or Antler Hill Village first!

🥂 Evening Antler Hill Village & Winery Visit (2 hours):
Linger into the evening in Antler Hill Village where holiday splendor and our award-winning winery await. Shop for unique holiday gifts, such as handcrafted ornaments or gourmet treats, and find the perfect souvenirs and stocking stuffers to remember your Christmas at Biltmore experience. Learn about the Vanderbilt family and their life at home and abroad at The Biltmore Legacy.

Tip: If you’re traveling with small children, be sure to visit Pisgah Playground, the Farmyard, and Antler Hill Barn for educational fun for all ages.

Guests enjoy visits with Santa at the Bandstand in Antler Hill Village on select dates during Christmas at Biltmore!

Additional Visit-Planning Tips:

Below are a few additional tips for your Christmas at Biltmore visit itinerary. For even more helpful information, we recommend exploring our Visitor Information site section.

  • Plan Ahead: Don’t wait to purchase your Christmas at Biltmore tickets or special overnight packages to secure your preferred dates and times for this beloved season.
  • Make the Most of Your Experience: All Biltmore admission types include access to explore Antler Hill Village & Winery and our historic gardens and grounds. Explore ticket types that include access to Biltmore House, an exclusive 90-minute guided tour, our immersive art exhibition, free next-day grounds access, and more! Additional add-on experiences, such as guided outdoor activities, are available as well.
  • Make it a Getaway: With so much to experience during the holiday season, treat yourself and your loved ones to a festive and memorable getaway with an overnight stay on Biltmore Estate.
  • Getting Around the Estate: Many guests underestimate the vast size of Biltmore Estate. We recommend allowing your party at least 30 minutes for travel and parking between estate locations. For helpful guidance on estate accessibility, please explore our Help Center.
  • Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers appropriate for the season and the types of activities you plan to do during your visit, especially if you opt to participate in any outdoor adventure activities.
  • Watch the Weather: The weather in our region can change quickly, which may result in unexpected temporary closures of our trails or outdoor activities during severe weather. We appreciate your understanding!
  • Capture Holiday Memories: Biltmore’s beautifully decorated spaces, elegant evergreens, and visits with Santa in Antler Hill Village provide the perfect backdrop for memorable holiday photos and magical moments with your family. Reminder: Be sure to follow estate photo and video policies designed to ensure all guests have an enjoyable experience.
  • Start Your Christmas Shopping: Find unique gifts and stocking stuffers, holiday decorations, and gourmet treats to bring the Biltmore Christmas spirit home during your visit at any of our estate shops.
  • Find More Tips: For even more guidance on what activities you might want to consider during your Biltmore visit for family fun, outdoor adventure, or food and wine, be sure to check our Itineraries page.

Ready to experience the magic of Christmas at Biltmore? Reserve your visit.

Before Biltmore Estate: Earliest Inhabitants

The 8,000 acres of present-day Biltmore Estate have a rich history of inhabitants dating back millennia.

In this two-part blog series, we recognize and share a brief history of some of the many people who have called this land home throughout history.

Modern-day viewshed of Biltmore Estate
Modern-day viewshed of Biltmore Estate

Early Native American Roots

George W. Vanderbilt chose to build his home at this site because of the spectacular mountain views and mild climate. Before his time, there were other reasons why people found this location desirable. Due to the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers, groups have settled here for almost 10,000 years. There were also two major trade routes that passed through this region, making it a much-used area for people from near and far.

Modern archaeological investigations on Biltmore Estate show evidence of significant Native American occupations. They span many years, dating from the Early Archaic period (ca. 8000 BCE) to the late Pisgah phase (ca. 1500 CE) of the Mississippian period.

One of the most significant Native American sites on the estate is known as the “Biltmore Mound and Village Site.” This earthen mound dates to the Connestee phase of the Middle Woodland period (ca. 200–600 CE), or around 1,400–1,800 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that the mound, which has been reduced from several hundred years of plowing, served as the substructure for a series of wooden town or council houses. These buildings were used as the civic and ceremonial centers of the surrounding village and the wider Native American settlements in the area.

Map showing historical land cessions of the Cherokee Nation, made in 1884, in the collection of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map division.
1884 Royce, C. C. Map of the former territorial limits of the Cherokee “Nation of” Indians from the collection of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map division.

Forced Removal of the Cherokee

By the time European settlers began arriving in this region in the late 18th century, this land was officially recognized as Cherokee territory. After the Revolutionary War, pressure on Native populations increased. The Cherokee Nation ceded much of the land that nearly 100 years later would make up Vanderbilt’s 125,000-acre estate to the United States government in the Treaty of Holston and the First Treaty of Tellico in the 1790s. These land cessions were made through coercion and encroachment and rarely represented the wishes of the Cherokee people as a whole.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 granted the government the power to relocate tribes to land west of the Mississippi. Five years later, some members of the Cherokee signed the Treaty of New Echota, which paid them $5 million to leave their ancestral lands in the Southeast. The forced migration to the new Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma in 1838 and 1839 became known as the Trail of Tears. The few who persevered to remain here or return later are the ancestors of the present-day Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). This tribe now mainly calls the Qualla Boundary their home, located about 40 miles west of Biltmore.

In 1890, when Biltmore House was under construction, an Extra Census Bulletin from the U. S. Census Office totaled the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina at 1,520 members. Despite their proximity, there seems to have been little interaction between George Vanderbilt or the estate and the EBCI. One exception is the sale of timber by a group of Cherokees to Carl Schenck during his time as Biltmore’s forester. There are also a few known early employees documented as claiming Cherokee ancestry.

This photo taken February 25, 1893, shows progress on Biltmore House and the Walled Garden. The new structures contrast with the residence of the Wright family in the foreground, which was purchased by Vanderbilt in June 1888.
This photo taken February 25, 1893, shows progress on Biltmore House and the Walled Garden. The new structures contrast with the residence of the Wright family in the foreground, which was purchased by Vanderbilt in June 1888.

Remembering Biltmore’s Residents

While many people are familiar with the lives of George and Edith Vanderbilt, it is vital to Biltmore’s cultural history to acknowledge the many individuals who came before the Vanderbilts and who lived and worked on this land since their arrival, including thousands of tenants and employees.

While there are many oral histories in Biltmore’s archives that speak to the experience of growing up on these grounds in the 20th century, the stories of most of those who came before have unfortunately been lost to time. In lieu of more detailed or personal accounts of individuals and communities who once lived on this land, it is essential that we acknowledge their existence as a way to honor and remember their lives and legacies.

Through environmental stewardship practices, land conservation efforts, and collaborative research projects, Biltmore remains dedicated to being good stewards of this storied land that has been home to so many, including Native Americans, the African American Shiloh community, and all descendants of the people who came before us.

Further Reading:

For information on the transition of land ownership leading up to George Vanderbilt, read part two of this blog series, Before Biltmore Estate: Changing Ownership.”

Additional resources on this topic:

Braised Short Ribs with Gingered Sweet Potato Mash & Cherry Barbeque Sauce Recipe

Perfect for chasing the chill in the air, this hearty, multi-layered entrée comes from The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: We suggest pairing it with The Hunt Sonoma County Red Blend 2020.

Braised Short Ribs with Gingered Sweet Potato Mash and Cherry Barbeque Sauce
Savor these hearty braised short ribs from the chefs at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Braised Short Ribs with Gingered Sweet Potato Mash and Cherry Barbeque Sauce

Total time: 4 hours Serving Size: 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds (4 pieces) beef short ribs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ½ pound celery, chopped
  • ½ pound white onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 quarts beef stock
  • 2 ounces fresh thyme

Cherry Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup dried sweet cherries
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Season shortribs with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large heavy pan.  Brown short ribs on all sides, remove.  Add carrots, celery, and onion to a hot pan;  cook until just brown. Return short ribs to the pan along with thyme and beef stock.  Cover pan, and place in hot oven. 
  • Braise for 3 hours, or until meat is extremely tender and falls away from the bone. Remove meat to a covered platter, and keep warm. Strain and reserve cooking liquid.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the reserved cooking liquid to a simmer.  Reduce until halved in volume.  Stir in molasses, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and dried cherries.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Bring heavy cream and butter to a simmer.  Bring to boil a large pot of salted water.  Add diced sweet potatoes.  Cook until sweet potatoes are tender.  Drain. Run cooked potatoes through a food mill or ricer.  Stir in warmed cream and butter along with minced ginger and honey.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve:  Divide sweet potatoes between 4 plates.  Place one short rib atop each portion of sweet potatoes. Sauce the beef with the cherry barbeque.

5 Biltmore-Inspired Tips for Eco-Friendly Christmas Décor

Environmental stewardship is a critical part of Biltmore’s mission that dates back to George Vanderbilt’s original vision for his country retreat in the mountains of North Carolina. This extends to the actions that our teams take over a century later as they deck the halls of America’s Largest Home® with twinkling lights and festive decorations each year for Christmas at Biltmore.

Let’s explore a few Biltmore-inspired, eco-friendly Christmas decor tips for decking your halls for the holidays.

Each year, over 60 trees are decorated around Biltmore Estate, including a cut 14-foot tree displayed in the lobby of The Inn.
Each year, over 60 trees are decorated around Biltmore Estate, including a cut 14-foot tree displayed in the lobby of The Inn.

Choose Natural and Low-Impact Christmas Trees

According to experts like The Nature Conservancy, natural-cut Christmas trees are a responsible décor option when farmed sustainably. Biltmore has been sourcing our famous Banquet Hall Christmas tree, front lawn trees, and many other cut trees placed around the estate from a family-owned farm, Andrews Nursery in nearby Newland, North Carolina, for over 40 years.

When your cut Christmas tree is ready to be taken down, don’t add it to the landfill! Instead, natural trees can be chipped into mulch for garden beds like we do on Biltmore Estate, composted, donated to local organizations, or even placed outside in wooded areas to serve as a natural habitat for small birds during winter months. Alternatively, you may also consider choosing a potted tree that can be replanted after the holidays or even explore the option of renting a living tree. For those who prefer artificial trees, opt for high-quality models that can be reused for many years.

Christmas “pomanders” are a classic Christmas decoration made of clove-studded oranges.
Christmas “pomanders” are a classic Christmas decoration made of clove-studded oranges.

Embrace Nature’s Bounty

Bring the beauty of nature indoors by incorporating natural elements into your eco-friendly Christmas decor. Clove-studded oranges, like shown here in the Servant’s Dining Hall of Biltmore House in years past, are a classic Christmas decoration that brings a sense of warmth and a lovely scent to your holiday décor. Gather fallen pinecones, twigs, dried flowers, and branches to create unique centerpieces, wreaths, or garlands. Not only will these decorations add a touch of rustic charm, but they will also offer a sustainable alternative to store-bought decorations.

Biltmore’s Floral designers begin planning for Christmas almost a full year in advance!
Biltmore’s Floral designers begin planning for Christmas almost a full year in advance!

Repurpose and Upcycle

Each year, Biltmore’s Floral team repurposes thousands of ornaments, ribbons, and other decorative items for adorning our historic estate for the holidays. Before heading out to buy new ornaments, take a look at what you already have. You might be surprised at how many old ornaments, ribbons, and decorations can be repurposed or upcycled into something new. Get creative by transforming old Christmas cards into gift tags, using scraps of fabric to make unique tree ornaments, or upcycling your Biltmore Wine corks into adorable DIY wine cork reindeer!

Antler Hill Village illuminates after dusk with the festive glow of thousands of twinkling LED lights.
Antler Hill Village illuminates after dusk with the festive glow of thousands of twinkling LED lights.

Choose Energy-Efficient Lighting

Instead of traditional incandescent lights, opt for energy-efficient LED lights like we use around Biltmore Estate, including inside Biltmore House, at the Winery, and around Antler Hill Village! LED bulbs consume significantly less electricity and have a longer lifespan, saving you money on your energy bill while reducing your carbon footprint.

Remember to turn off the lights when not in use and consider investing in a timer to avoid unnecessary energy consumption at nighttime.

Simple evergreen clippings and leftover ribbon pieces can help elevate your wine gift-giving this holiday season.
Simple evergreen clippings and leftover ribbon pieces can help elevate your wine gift-giving this holiday season.

Be Mindful of Packaging

The holiday season often brings an abundance of packaging waste. When buying new decorations, gifts, and wrapping papers, opt for items with minimal packaging or items made from recycled and sustainably sourced materials. Additionally, try to reuse or recycle any packaging you receive, reducing your contribution to the waste stream. For additional guidance on gifting, check out our tips for creative ways to wrap wine bottles for gift-giving!

By making small changes to embrace eco-friendly Christmas decor practices, we can all do our part to create a festive atmosphere that brings joy to our homes while being good stewards of our natural resources.

Biltmore’s 2023 Christmas Décor by the Numbers

Christmas décor at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, is nothing short of magical. From America’s Largest Home® to Antler Hill Village, our Winery, and beyond, our incredibly talented team members somehow manage to outdo themselves year after year. 

This year’s Banquet Hall Christmas Tree features 500 lights, 500 presents, and 500 ornaments.

In the past, the Floral team has based their designs around a central theme that carries through Biltmore House and across the estate. For 2023, however, they chose to allow each room to speak to them based on its colors and furnishings.

“We always take the elements of each space into consideration, but this year, we’re giving a fresh voice to what makes individual areas of Biltmore House so distinctive,” said Lizzie Whitcher, Floral Manager.

Let’s take a look at just how much Christmas décor it takes to bedeck George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate.

For 2023, the Library Christmas Tree is based on the 1940s plot line of Hallmark’s “A Biltmore Christmas”

Christmas Trees

  • There will be 67 decorated Christmas trees inside Biltmore House for the 2023 celebration.
  • The largest tree inside Biltmore House is, of course, the Vanderbilt traditional fresh 35-foot-tall Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall. It requires about 50 staff members to carry in, raise, and secure it.
  • The smallest ones are a grouping of three tabletop trees in Servant’s Bedrooms.
  • A lit 55-foot-tall Norway spruce encircled by 36 illuminated evergreens decorates the Front Lawn of Biltmore House for Candlelight Christmas Evenings.
  • A total of 45 additional decorated Christmas trees are at other estate locations, including our Winery, Antler Hill Village, and The Inn on Biltmore Estate®. The Conservatory features decorated “trees” made of potted plants and other natural materials.  
Strings of lights are added to the 35′ Fraser fir tree in the Banquet Hall.
Strings of lights are added to this year’s 35′ Fraser fir tree in the Banquet Hall.

Christmas Lights & Candles

  • There are around 45,000 lights and 282 candles inside Biltmore House. Another 850,000 lights illuminate the rest of the estate.    
  • More than 55,000 lights illuminate the Front Lawn tree with an additional 32,000 lights on the surrounding trees and shrubs. Uplighting illuminates the poplar trees lining the lawn.
  • Hand-lit at dusk, 400 luminaries line the Esplanade in front of Biltmore House every night for Candlelight Christmas Evenings.
  • The illumination of Antler Hill Village features thousands upon thousands of lights, including a pole tree near the entrance that plays a continuous show of synchronized lights and music and large Moravian-style stars that lend a magical touch to the Christmas décor. 
Floral designer adds an ornament to the Banquet Hall Christmas tree.
Floral designer adds an ornament to this year’s Banquet Hall Christmas tree.

Christmas Ornaments

  • The Banquet Hall tree boasts 500 ornaments and 500 LED Edison bulb-style electric lights along with an abundance of gift boxes and other décor.
  • There are 13,870 ornaments used on the other trees inside Biltmore House, and that many again around the estate to add sparkle and seasonal interest.
Todd Roy puts the finishing touches on 2023 Conservatory decor.
Be sure to look for festive Christmas decor in Biltmore’s historic Conservatory during Christmas!

Poinsettias & Other Botanical Décor

  • More than 1,960 traditional poinsettias are found amid the Christmas décor throughout the estate, 271 of which are in Biltmore House. 
  • Additional seasonal plants include 4,265 amaryllises, Christmas cacti, bromeliads, orchids, peace lilies, cyclamen, begonias, and kalanchoes.

Wreaths

  • There are 238 fresh wreaths and sprays along with 90 faux pieces around the estate during the season.
  • Wreaths are made of fresh white pine and Fraser fir, ornamented with golden arborvitae, holly, or other natural materials such as twigs and cones. Artificial bases are decorated with ornaments, berries, faux flowers, and ribbons.
A look at this year’s garland swag adorning the Winter Garden of Biltmore House.

Garlands & Swags

  • Our Floral team cuts fresh evergreens on the property every week to create handmade swags to decorate the Grand Staircase in Biltmore House.
  • Around 1,600 feet of fresh and faux garlands decorate Biltmore House, and around 1,200 feet are used in other areas.
Elegant, handmade garlands are present throughout Biltmore House and around the entire estate.

Ribbons & Bows

  • There are 9,510 yards of ribbon in the Christmas décor in Biltmore House and throughout the estate—primarily in the form of hand-tied bows. 
  • Our team uses everything from narrow cording to 8-inch-wide ribbon and they decorate with velvets, metallics, satins, burlap, and printed cottons.
  • It takes 5 yards of ribbon to create the festive bows worn by the marble lions at the front door of Biltmore House.
  • It takes close to 15 yards of ribbon required to make a tree-topper bow for the 16-foot-tall Christmas trees in the Library.
  • Any ribbon that is used year to year is starched and ironed so that it is wrinkle-free and perfect!
Behind the scenes shot of Biltmore's team raising this year's Banquet Hall tree.
Behind the scenes shot of Biltmore’s team raising this year’s Banquet Hall tree.

Staff

  • It takes about 50 team members to raise and secure the Banquet Hall’s Fraser fir Christmas tree.
  • Our Floral team consists of 10 full-time and 7 part-time floral designers.
  • Multiple departments across the estate also help implement the grand plans for Christmas décor at Biltmore each year, including our Engineering, Housekeeping, Museum Services, Horticulture, Guest Services, Security, and Events teams.
Behind the scenes view of Biltmore Floral Team members planning and preparing this year's Christmas decor.
Behind the scenes view of Biltmore Floral Team members planning and preparing this year’s Christmas decor.

Experience an Estate-wide Spectacle

Transforming Biltmore Estate into a holiday oasis bedecked with awe-inspiring Christmas decor requires meticulous research, creative inspiration, 12 months of preparation, and harmonious teamwork around the entire estate.

We extend a warm welcome to you and your loved ones to experience the beauty, grandeur, and traditions of Christmas at Biltmore. From Biltmore House and the Conservatory to the Winery, our overnight accommodations, estate shops, dining, and festive lights throughout Antler Hill Village, there is something for everyone to enjoy this holiday season!

By the Numbers: The Making of “A Biltmore Christmas”

Fans of the holidays, mystery, time travel, and romantic comedy are in for a treat when A Biltmore Christmas premieres on Hallmark Channel on Sunday, November 26!

Take a peek behind the scenes with some fun, “by the numbers” tidbits about the making of this festive yuletide movie.

How to Watch: Check your local listings for viewing on Hallmark Channel or stream on-demand with Hallmark TV, Peacock, Hulu + Live TV, YouTubeTV, and other subscription services.

Bethany Joy Lenz as Lucy Hardgrove in
Bethany Joy Lenz as Lucy Hardgrove in “A Biltmore Christmas,” by Hallmark Media. @2023 Hallmark Media/Photographer David Scott Holloway.

About A Biltmore Christmas

Filmed at Biltmore in January 2023, this Hallmark movie features locations across the historic estate, including the Gardens, Conservatory, and The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Biltmore’s long history as a film location dates back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, but for the first time, Biltmore House has a central role in the storyline of A Biltmore Christmas.

The film centers on the fictional story about a modern-day screenwriter Lucy Hardgrove (Bethany Joy Lenz) and Jack Huston (Kristoffer Polaha), the dashing lead of the beloved holiday movie His Merry Wife!, first filmed at Biltmore House in 1947. The classic movie is scheduled to be re-filmed at the iconic estate, but a mysterious hourglass intervenes, and Lucy is transported back in time to 1946 as the cast and crew prepare to re-make the classic movie.

Kristoffer Polaha as Jack Huston in
Kristoffer Polaha as Jack Huston in “A Biltmore Christmas,” produced by Hallmark Media. @2023 Hallmark Media/Photographer David Scott Holloway

A behind-the-scenes look by the numbers:

  • 8 vintage cars were used during the filming of A Biltmore Christmas
  • 200 yards of artificial snow were used.
  • 300 Asheville-area locals were hired as extras in the movie.
  • 8,000+ people submitted applications online to be cast as extras, which Hallmark producers said is the most they’ve ever received.
  • 9 rooms inside Biltmore House were used for filming: The Library, Tapestry Gallery, Main Hallway, Staircase Hall, Vestibule, Winter Garden, Banquet Hall, the corridor around the Winter Garden, and the corridor behind the Banquet Hall.
  • 4 out of the nine rooms were decorated with a 1940s theme. Some of these rooms had multiple variations: some were made to look like an everyday room in the 1940s; a 1940s movie set; or a room set for a 1940s party. Except for the Library, all of the interiors were redecorated for present-day scenes with variations made for the “one-year later” conclusion. Wow, time travel can be confusing!
  • 2 exterior locations directly attached to Biltmore House were used for filming scenes: The Loggia and the Library Terrace.
  • 4 rooms at The Inn on Biltmore Estate were used as film sets: The Lobby, the Library Lounge, and two guest rooms.
  • 11 costumes were worn by star Bethany Joy Lenz in A Biltmore Christmas. Four of them were 1940s-era costumes. Of the collection of 1940s looks costume designer Keith Nielsen created for Lenz’s character Lucy Hardgrove, Lucy’s Finale Ballgown is perhaps the most dramatic. Nielsen sourced an original Carolina Herrera design specifically for its fabric reminiscent of men’s tie patterns of the era. Modifications included a gathered bust that drapes around the back and the addition of a tiered tulle underlayer. Lucy’s necklace is an original 1930s Czech crystal from the collection of Nielsen. This costume will be on display at The Inn on Biltmore Estate throughout the holidays.
  • 1 hourglass is used as a plot point in the movie.
  • Biltmore is mentioned 9 times in the film.
  • 15 days of filming took place at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
For 2023, the Library Christmas Tree is based on the 1940s plot line of Hallmark’s “A Biltmore Christmas”

Experience the magic of A Biltmore Christmas for yourself!

Visit Planning Tip: During your visit to Biltmore this Christmas season, be sure to look for the mysterious hourglass in the Library of Biltmore House, several costumes worn by stars Bethany Joy Lenz and Kristoffer Polaha, as well as props from the set on display throughout Biltmore’s Christmas season at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, Traditions in Antler Hill Village, and at the estate’s Reception and Ticketing Sales Center.

For extra holiday-movie-magic, the décor in the Library this year will be based on the 1940s plot line of the movie, featuring classic red and green elements, with dramatic cascades of silver-sequined tinsel adorning the room’s Christmas tree.

Biltmore House aglow during
Treat yourself to the beloved estate tradition known as “Christmas at Biltmore,” on display November 3, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

Now that you’ve enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at the making of A Biltmore Christmas, book your tickets or special overnight stay packages on Biltmore Estate so you can match up iconic Hallmark movie moments with their real-life settings during Christmas at Biltmore!

5 Insider Tips for Planning Your First Biltmore Visit

Whether it’s your first time visiting Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, or you’re planning your return, we’ve compiled our top five insider tips to help you make the most of your visit to our 8,000-acre estate any time of year!

Mountain views from Biltmore's South Terrace in autumn.
Autumnal views from the South Terrace showcase the grand scale of Biltmore Estate.

Tip #1: Plan ahead & purchase tickets in advance

“People often underestimate the vast scale of Biltmore Estate and the amount of walking or moving about that will take place during a visit, even beyond exploring America’s Largest Home. Make sure to purchase your tickets in advance online for the most flexibility in finding your preferred date and time.

I also recommend checking the local weather forecast, wearing comfortable shoes, and making sure you have time and transportation to get between the different areas of the estate, some of which are actually miles apart!” – Bryan Yerman, Senior Manager of Interpretive Hosts  

You're going to want to linger a bit longer to enjoy all that the estate has to offer!
You’re going to want to linger a bit longer to enjoy all that the estate has to offer, like an award-winning Winery!

Tip #2: Don’t rush!

“If you really want to make the most of your Biltmore visit, it would be a real shame to not allow yourself time to relax and enjoy meandering through the beautiful estate the way George Vanderbilt intended! Give yourself sufficient time to explore the beautiful gardens, visit Antler Hill Village, sample award-winning wines at our Winery, and enjoy the various activities offered on the estate.

I recommend planning to spend a whole day (or two!) if you can, but at a minimum, be prepared to spend about six hours on the estate. That should give you time for a Biltmore House visit, a stroll through the historic gardens, plus some time for grabbing a bite to eat at one of our estate restaurants and exploring Antler Hill Village.

If you’re like me and love wine, be sure to allow time to visit our estate Winery where you can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting or savor your wine by the glass at the Wine Bar!” – Jean Sexton, Biltmore’s Editorial Manager, and Vanderbilt Wine Club member

Biltmore's vast trail system offers adventure and beautiful scenery year-round.
Biltmore’s vast trail system offers adventure and beautiful scenery year-round, including at the Bass Pond!

Tip #3: Explore the gardens, grounds, and trails

“Don’t miss the breathtaking gardens and grounds surrounding Biltmore House. The pristine landscapes are meticulously designed, and each season brings its unique charm. Plan your visit accordingly to witness the vibrant blooms in spring, the lush greenery and tropical plants of summer, the colorful foliage and mum display in autumn, and the peaceful scenery with long-range views in wintertime. Take a leisurely stroll, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, and capture unforgettable photos all year long by becoming a Biltmore Annual Passholder.

You may be surprised to learn that Biltmore Estate admission includes access to over 22 miles of trails for exploring. It’s like having a private national park to explore right here in Asheville!” – Bill Quade, Biltmore’s Director of Horticulture  

Guests ride bikes on paved paths lined with sunflowers at Biltmore.
Staying overnight on Biltmore Estate means you have a sprawling, private estate to explore at your leisure.

Tip #4: Make Biltmore your home base

“When you’re on George Vanderbilt’s private estate, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to a European village, but, in reality, all the wonderful things that bring people to Asheville are very close by.

Whether you’re traveling solo, with your sweetheart, your best friends, or the whole family, I recommend staying overnight on Biltmore Estate so you can wake up like a Vanderbilt and enjoy easy access to all that the estate has to offer just outside your room!

You’ll have fun exploring the gardens and grounds, meeting Farmyard friends and learning about Biltmore’s field-to-table legacy in Antler Hill Village, lounging at your hotel’s pool, and, of course, visiting the Winery! Plus, when you stay overnight, you can easily explore the greater Asheville area nearby.” – Beth Poslusny, Vice President of Destination Guest Experience

Biltmore host guides a small group tour in the Library.
Guided tours of Biltmore House are a great way to expand your knowledge and see new areas of America’s Largest Home!

Tip #5: There’s something for everyone

“I always recommend checking out Biltmore’s website, blog, social media, or YouTube so you can learn a bit about the estate before you arrive.

Whether you are interested in the Gilded Age history, fine art, architecture, gardening, family-friendly activities, or learning about Biltmore’s agricultural history, there really is something at Biltmore for everyone!

Be sure to keep an eye on Biltmore’s event calendar so you can plan your visit during special events, like exhibitions, and seasonal celebrations like Christmas at Biltmore!” – Meghan Forest, Biltmore’s Associate Curator

Biltmore's European-inspired Antler Hill Village is home to the Winery, Farmyard, Pisgah Playground, and exclusive estate shops and restaurants!
Biltmore’s European-inspired Antler Hill Village is home to the Winery, Farmyard, Pisgah Playground, and exclusive estate shops and restaurants!

Make Your Biltmore Visit Memorable

Visiting Biltmore is an experience that combines history, architecture, and natural beauty. By following our insider tips, you’ll be well-prepared to create memories that will last a lifetime!

We hope that you find these insider tips helpful so that you can make the most of your visit and discover why Biltmore Estate is one of the South’s most beloved and memorable destinations any time of year!

For even more inspiration for planning your next visit to Biltmore, check out our Visit Information page and read visit itineraries on our blog.

Have you visited Biltmore before or even upgraded to an Annual Passholder membership? Share your favorite Biltmore insider tips and memories with us by tagging #Biltmore @biltmoreestate on social media.

Preserving Stable Courtyard, Brick by Brick

For over a century, the brick pavers of the Stable Courtyard adjacent to Biltmore House have supported everything from horse and carriage traffic to more than a million guests each year. Unsurprisingly, sections of the courtyard had become worn and were ready for a large-scale preservation project.

Continue reading to learn about what it takes to restore the courtyard’s appearance to Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt’s original design intent.

Photograph of the Stable Complex construction from George Vanderbilt’s collection, ca. 1894
Photograph of the Stable Complex construction from George Vanderbilt’s collection, ca. 1894

A brief overview of the Stable Complex

Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, one of America’s most prominent architects during the late 19th century, the Stable Complex was an essential component of the comprehensive plan for Biltmore Estate.

This state-of-the-art complex includes many spaces, such as horse stables, a carriage house, living quarters for estate employees, livery storage, saddlery, and, of course, a wide, brick-paved courtyard.

Tip: Learn more about Biltmore’s construction story at our Building Biltmore House exhibition, on display daily inside the Halloween Room. Access is included with Biltmore House admission and Annual Passholder memberships.

An aerial view of Stable Courtyard before preservation work began in 2023 reveals inlaid patterns in the brick pavers.
Brent Merrell, Biltmore’s Director of Engineering Services and Preservation Committee member, provides an up-close look at the historic brick and mortar.
Historic bricks in good condition that are removed from Stable Courtyard will be preserved as part of Biltmore’s collection.
Over 10,000 brick replicas were created to match the color, size, texture, and sheen of the originals.
Custom mortar was also developed by experts in partnership with Biltmore’s preservation committee.
A side-by-side view of the historic bricks (left) and the newly restored replicas (right).

Stable Courtyard preservation by the numbers:

  • The Stable Complex is around 12,000 square feet, while the brick Courtyard is around 9,000 square feet.
  • During Mr. Vanderbilt’s era, there would have been as many as 25 riding and driving horses and 20 carriages inside the complex.
  • The process of recreating replicas of our historic brick took more than three years.
  • Preservation work is estimated to have taken a total of six and a half months to complete, with part of the work happening in 2023 and the remaining in early 2024.
  • 1,700 square feet of brick pavers were assessed, some of which were original bricks and others which had been replaced over the years.
  • 10,800 reproduction bricks and 2,016 gallons of mortar were ordered for this project. Both the bricks and the mortar were designed to age consistently with the original brick, and the differences now are calculated to produce the same appearance over time.
  • Biltmore Estate has held the National Historic Landmark designation since May 1963. As such, our preservation work follows the guidance set by the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The clock in Stable Courtyard has been restored to Gilded-Age-glory.
The clock in Stable Courtyard has been restored to Gilded-Age-glory.

Keeping time in the Courtyard

In addition to the resetting of brick pavers, the Stable Courtyard Clock has also been recently preserved! The face of the clock was treated by our in-house Conservation team, which included restoring the gilded wood hands.

Biltmore’s Associate Curator, Meghan Forest, says “Historically, this clock would have been connected to all of the clocks in the service areas of Biltmore House, ensuring that staff had a firm and consistent idea of what time it was.”

Want to learn even more about this preservation project at Biltmore? Watch this video with Brent Merrell.

Thank you for your help in preserving Biltmore

We welcome you to see our ongoing preservation efforts of this National Historic Landmark for yourself during your next Biltmore visit.

Spring Squash Carbonara Recipe

Savor this spring-inspired pasta dish from our estate chefs featuring quail eggs! Quail eggs elevate any dish and pair especially well with bacon, black truffles, asparagus, caviar, and mushrooms.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Our Limited Release Pinot Grigio pairs well with the Carbonara. Winemaker Sharon Fenchak says its crispness and citrus notes complement the richness of the quail eggs in this dish.

Braised Short Ribs with Gingered Sweet Potato Mash and Cherry Barbeque Sauce
Savor these hearty braised short ribs from the chefs at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Spring Squash Carbonara

Total time: 1.5 hours Serving Size: 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1 pound smoked bacon, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound zucchini, chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 squash blossoms, halved lengthwise (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 quail eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Put bacon in a medium saucepan and place over low heat. Slowly cook until the bacon begins to brown. Drain most of the fat, leaving a few tablespoons in the pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook until tender. Remove from heat.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. When the water begins to boil, add the spaghetti and stir. Cook the pasta for 6–8 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  • Place the zucchini mixture back over medium heat. Add the pasta, 1 cup of pasta water, and egg yolks to the zucchini mixture and stir continuously. When a creamy sauce begins to form, add the Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, squash blossoms, lemon zest and ¼ cup chopped chives. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide the pasta evenly into 6 bowls and top each with a sunny side up quail egg, the reserved chives, and more Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

Biltmore’s Historic Honeymooners

Did you know Biltmore has historically been the site of many honeymoons and romantic occasions?

Perhaps it’s the warm, pink glow of the mountains as the sun sets over the Deer Park, the way the wind carries a sweet perfume from the gardens into the air, or the subtle whisper of a bottle of sparkling wine being masterfully uncorked nearby, but one thing is for sure—love is certainly in the air at Biltmore.

From before construction of Biltmore House was completed all the way to our modern day guests who visit, there is no denying that this historic estate offers a desirable destination for a romantic getaway any time of year.

Get to know some of Cupid’s earliest captives and the historic honeymooners who spent their precious time together at Biltmore many moons ago.

Jay & Adele Burden’s Honeymoon

Jay and Adele Burden honeymooned at River Cliff Cottage on Biltmore Estate, c. 1895
Jay and Adele Burden honeymooned at River Cliff Cottage on Biltmore Estate, c. 1895

One of Biltmore’s earliest guests included newlyweds, Jay Burden and Adele Sloane, George Vanderbilt’s niece. The darling young couple spent their honeymoon with a romantic retreat to River Cliff Cottage at Biltmore in June of 1895, months before Biltmore House was completed.

“Adele, actually Lila Sloane’s older sister, wrote about Biltmore being terribly romantic years before she married Jay Burden—it seems her opinion didn’t change!” says Meghan Forest, Biltmore’s Archives and Curatorial Assistant.

Ernesto & Edith Fabbri’s Honeymoon

Biltmore Honeymooners Ernesto and Edith Fabbri, c. 1896
Biltmore Honeymooners Ernesto and Edith Fabbri, c. 1896

Ernesto Fabbri and Edith Shepard, another one of George Vanderbilt’s nieces, celebrated their nuptials with a honeymoon at Biltmore after their 1896 wedding.

Records indicate that Biltmore remained a special place for the Fabbris as they visited Biltmore six more times together over the next nine years, bringing along their children after they were born.

George & Edith Vanderbilt’s Homecoming

George and Edith Vanderbilt, c. 1900
George and Edith Vanderbilt, c. 1900

George Vanderbilt was a bachelor when he first moved into Biltmore House. It would only be a few short years before he met his bride-to-be, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser.

After whirlwind courtship abroad, George and Edith were married in Paris in a 15-minute civil ceremony on June 1, 1898. The couple honeymooned in Italy for three months before arriving home to Biltmore in October.

Ever the romantic, a 1910 correspondence shows that George coordinated some modifications to Biltmore House as a surprise for Edith when she returned home from a trip abroad, including adding stairs by the Porte Cochere to provide access to a forest trail.

Willie & Lila Field’s Honeymoon

Biltmore Honeymooners Willie and Lila Field, c. 1902
Biltmore Honeymooners Willie and Lila Field, c. 1902

One of George Vanderbilt’s closest comrades, William B. Osgood Field, was a frequent guest at Biltmore. During subsequent visits, “Willie” was introduced to one of George Vanderbilt’s nieces, Lila Sloane. It seems there was some matchmaking at play as the duo may have been deliberately encouraged to do activities together. The couple became engaged at Biltmore and spent their honeymoon on the estate, as well.

An interest piece about the Willie and Lila Field honeymoon from society columnist “Cholly Knickerbocker” read:

“[George Vanderbilt] is fond of paying this particular kind of compliment to his young relatives, and Biltmore, one of the most fairy-like country seats in this country, has been the scene of quite a number of honeymoons, and of the inauguration of what have turned out to be happy marriages. In this case the selection of Biltmore for the honeymoon will be especially appropriate. For it was there that Willie Field and Lila Sloan first plighted their troth and became engaged.”

Cornelia & John F.A. Cecil’s Wedding

Portrait of the Honorable and Mrs. John F.A. Cecil’s wedding party inside the Tapestry Gallery, c. 1924
Portrait of the Honorable and Mrs. John F.A. Cecil’s wedding party inside the Tapestry Gallery, c. 1924

Wedding bells rang as Cornelia, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s daughter, married the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil at All Souls Church in Biltmore Village on April 29, 1924.

No detail was spared in this elaborate celebration that welcomed notable guests from around the globe and intrigued society columns.

Biltmore is a Romantic Getaway for the Ages

Romantic sunset view of the Deer Park from Biltmore's Library Terrace
Romantic sunset view of the Deer Park from Biltmore’s Library Terrace

Whether it’s warming up together by the fireside at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, taking a mini tropical vacation inside the Conservatory, marveling at the grandeur and history inside Biltmore House, sharing a sweet treat in Antler Hill Village, or spending time exploring the gardens and grounds at dusk, we can say confidently that Biltmore’s reputation as a romantic getaway for sweethearts has aged like a fine wine.

No matter the time of year, we invite you to find, rekindle, or celebrate your love at Biltmore. For the ultimate romantic getaway, join us as an overnight guest at our four-star Inn, cozy Village Hotel, or one of our private historic Cottages and enjoy the beauty of this “fairy-like” country estate as George Vanderbilt intended.