Ever since I was young and my mother and I watched the TV special “Christmas at Biltmore”, I’ve wanted to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. As an early gift for my birthday, my fiancé surprised me with a trip to Christmas at Biltmore. In this blog post, I’ll fill you in on how to get the most out of your time at the Biltmore Estate during the holidays and the remainder of the year
Christmas at the Biltmore Estate
Christmastime is a truly magical time of the year to visit the Biltmore Estate, and you must experience it at least once in your lifetime. During the day, the house is decked out with more than 55 Christmas trees decorated in the Victorian tradition and with evergreen wreaths and garlands, incredible floral displays in the conservatory, and a gingerbread house in the main kitchen. At night, you can visit the Biltmore Estate for a Candlelight Christmas Evening. Upon entering the gates, you’ll be confronted by an enormous Norway spruce covered in giant white snowflakes and glittering lights. Make your way towards the mansion on pathways lined with holiday luminaries. Inside, you’ll find each room aglow with candles, roaring fireplaces, Christmas trees, and early 20th century lighting. To add to the holiday spirit, a choir in the Winter Garden and musicians scattered throughout the house perform holiday classics for your enjoyment.
If you’re planning on experiencing Christmas at the Biltmore Estate, I have three pieces of advice for you. First, you need to book as early as possible. Dates sell out quickly. We visited the day after Thanksgiving, and my fiancé booked in April! Second, I highly recommend going to a Candlelight Christmas Evening Tour. There are a great deal less people at nighttime, so you’ll get to enjoy your time and see all of the details in each room. Third, you may want to consider seeing the mansion both during the day at night. If you wish to do so, book the Candlelight Christmas Evening Tour, and during checkout, you can upgrade your ticket to allow you to see the house during the day as well, at significant savings. Christmas at Biltmore and the Candlelight Christmas Evenings run from the beginning of November through early January. Check their website for exact dates.
Tips for Seeing the Biltmore Estate All Year Long:
- It takes a while to actually get to the mansion, so arrive at the main gate with at least 45 minutes early. There’s a significant drive from the main gate to the parking lot. From the parking lot you have to wait for, board, and take a shuttle to the house. If you miss the entry time on your ticket, they may not be able to accommodate you.
- Book your tickets for an early morning entry time. The crowds arrive in the late morning and early afternoon, so you’ll want to get there early.
- Purchase tickets and an audio guide online at their website. You’ll save time by not having to wait in line, and the audio guide will enrich your experience by providing information about the history of the house, its decoration and contents, and life on the estate.
- See the mansion first and then tour the gardens and the conservatory. The gardens are truly amazing, but even if you visit in winter, the huge conservatory is alive with magnificent tropical plants, it’s specially decorated for the holiday season. Don’t miss the gardener’s store located on the lower level (down the steps) behind the conservatory.
- Check out the wonderful gift shops located inside the former stables. You’ll have an array of shops to choose from including a Christmas store, candy shop, gift shop, bookstore, and toy shop. Each have their own array of goodies, so be sure to leave time to check them all out.
- There are many options for dining on the Biltmore Estate, but I recommend eating at the Courtyard Market. Right in the middle of the former stable compound is an outdoor (but covered and heated) café. We found the food there to the yummiest and cheapest. We enjoyed a Bavarian pretzel and German knockworst and brawtwurst. However, there are also other travel options including a full service restaurant, bakery and sandwich shop, and ice cream shop.
- If you’re so inclined, the Biltmore Estate also features a winery in Antler Village. There’s more information about the winery and Antler Village on their website.
Add-Ons to Your Visit to the Biltmore Estate
- Stay in the nearby city of Asheville which is full of quirky shops to explore and a plethora of restaurants to dine in. While in Asheville, check out:
- Loft of Asheville – a quirky gift shop where you’ll find unique and hilarious items that you never even knew existed!
- Perfect Gifts – another gift store full of fun products and cards for all occasions
- Old Europe Pastries – a cafe featuring coffee and gourmet European pastries that taste as good as they look!
- Rhubarb – a farm to table restaurant featuring a variety of small plates and larger dishes; reservations recommended
- Pack’s Tavern – a modern tavern serving a wide variety of dishes – We enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving buffet dinner there!
- Explore the shops in Biltmore Village. Located just outside the main gate of the estate, the village was designed by the same architects as the mansion and built as a place where estate workers could live with their families. It originally included rental cottages, a post office, shops, a school, a doctor’s office, and a church. Today, Biltmore Village features shops and restaurants for both tourists and locals to peruse.
- Visit the North Carolina Arboretum, and if you’re in the area during the holidays, experience their Winter Lights outdoor holiday light display! See my blog post: “Christmas at the North Carolina Arboretum: Winter Lights!”.
Locations of the Biltmore Estate and Add-Ons:
- The Biltmore Estate is located at 1 Lodge St. in Asheville. Click on the map below for specific driving directions.
- Loft of Asheville is located at 53 Broadway Street in Asheville.
- Perfect Gifts is located at 8 Biltmore Ave in Asheville.
- Old Europe Pastries is located at 13 Broadway Street in Asheville.
- Pack’s Tavern is located at 20 South Spruce St in Asheville.
- Rhubarb is located at 7 Southwest Pack Square in Asheville.
- The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way in Asheville.