The Making of Christmas at Biltmore
Written By Leeann Donnelly
For the Home
Each year at this time, signs of Christmas start to show up around the estate. A tree here, a beautiful wreath there….all magically appear for guests to enjoy. But behind all of this magic is a dedicated team of creative designers who are hard at work. Every ornament, arrangement and yard of fabric is selected precisely for its intended location and specifically for that year. The imagination and expertise of this team seems endless and their enthusiasm knows no bounds.
With that endless creativity comes a long list of supplies required to decorate America’s largest home and surrounding buildings on the estate. From trees to bows, and countless ornaments in between, below are the Biltmore-sized trimmings for this holiday season.
A combination of fresh cut Fraser fir and artificial trees are used inside Biltmore House for fire safety and the protection of the collection. Designers also use potted holly trees, deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs as decoration, both inside and outside.
- The 2013 celebration boasts 56 decorated Christmas trees inside Biltmore House.
- The largest tree inside Biltmore House is the Vanderbilt traditional 35-foot-tall Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall.
- A lighted 55-foot-tall Norway spruce with other evergreens decorates the front lawn of Biltmore House.
- A total of 58 additional decorated Christmas trees are at other estate locations, including the Winery, Inn on Biltmore Estate, Antler Hill Village and restaurants.
Lights and Candles
There are around 30,000 lights and 150 candles inside Biltmore House. Over 130,000 LED and mini lights are found around the estate. The Front Lawn tree features 45,000 lights and lighting accents are placed at the base of the poplar trees lining the front lawn. Three hundred luminaries line the driveway and Esplanade in front of Biltmore House.
Five hundred gift boxes, 500 ornaments and 500 electric lights decorate the Banquet Hall Tree. There are 12,000 ornaments used on the other trees inside Biltmore House, and another 10,000 used around the estate.
Poinsettias and Other Blooming Plants
There are traditional red poinsettias, along with amaryllis, Christmas cactus, orchids, peace lilies, cyclamen, begonias, and kalanchoe in the displays. Around 1,000 blooming plants are used during the season inside Biltmore House, along with several hundred more in the other estate facilities.
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, silk flowers and ribbon. Over 360 fresh wreaths and sprays along with 130 permanent botanicals are found around the estate during the season.
Guests will find 130 orbs made of fresh white pine and Fraser fir, or made of dried and faux materials are found all across the estate.
Each season, designers use 5,000 feet of fresh evergreen garlanding of mixed white pine and Fraser fir. The garlands are replaced weekly to maintain a fresh look and fragrance for our guests. Silk garlands add another 1,200 feet in Biltmore House and around 1,500 feet in other areas.
Ribbons and Bows
Biltmore House features 500 ribbons, while another 500 are used at other estate venues. Bows are made from narrow cording to 8-inch-wide ribbons of velvets, metallics, satins, burlap and printed cottons.