The holidays are a feast for the eyes at Biltmore Estate in Asheville. (Shutterstock) Holidays at Biltmore Estate
The holidays are a feast for the eyes at Biltmore Estate in Asheville. (Shutterstock)

Biltmore Estate is the largest privately-owned home in America. And this time of year, it’s a feast for the eyes.

The Biltmore Estate, located just south of Asheville in tiny Biltmore Village, is one of the most recognizable places in North Carolina. 

The mansion, inspired by the châteaus of the Loire Valley in France, is located on a 125,000-acre property that was purchased by George Washington Vanderbilt II in 1888. The home, now known as the Biltmore Estate, took six years to complete and was finished in 1895. 

The mansion was the home of the Vanderbilt family for decades before being opened to the public in 1930, as the Great Depression had consumed the country. The Vanderbilts were encouraged to open their home to boost tourism, and for nearly 100 years people have been visiting ‘the Biltmore House’.

While Biltmore is incredible any time of the year, Christmas is especially unique. Here are the 5 things you can see at Biltmore Estate this Christmas:

  1. Candlelight Christmas Evenings

Between now and Jan. 7, evening visitors to Biltmore can experience an incredible celebration of the holiday season. 

At night, the estate shines with a vast light display. The centerpiece is the 55-foot Norway Spruce on the Biltmore lawn. 

Since the 1970s, the Christmas tree at Biltmore has been purchased from Andrews Nursery in Newland, North Carolina. Beyond the incredible Christmas tree, Biltmore treats its guests to a festive experience both on the Estate grounds, as well as inside the mansion. Tickets for Candlelight Christmas Evenings can be purchased here.

Image via The Biltmore Company
  1. Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius 

Running until February 20, 2023, Biltmore offers its guests a chance to see this temporary exhibit that highlights the incredible life and career of Leonardo da Vinci. 

A true Renaissance Man, da Vinci was an inventor, sculptor, painter, and so much more. Visitors to the exhibit are given the opportunity to learn about his life’s work. Tickets to the exhibit are only available during the daytime and prices depend on the day of the week. Tickets can be purchased here.

Image via the Biltmore Company
  1. Biltmore Winery

“We have a river. We have a château. We have the land. We have no vineyard. Every French château has a vineyard.” – William A.V. Cecil

George Washington Vanderbilt had a love for wine, and his grandson, William Cecil, continued that passion by establishing Biltmore Winery in the 1980s. In the decades since, Biltmore Winery has grown into an operation that produces over 150,000 crates of wine per year. Visitors can maximize their Biltmore experience with a stop here. 

To visit the winery, you must either purchase a ticket to the estate, be an annual pass holder, or have a reservation to stay at a Biltmore property. Wine tastings are available on a limited basis and those interested must make a reservation in person the day you visit the Estate. 

The Winery is open from 11:00-8:00, Sunday-Thursday and 11:00-9:00, Friday and Saturday.

Image via The Biltmore Company

         Photo Credit: The Biltmore Company

  1. Antler Hill Village

Visitors can go to Antler Hill Village to enhance their Biltmore experience. 

Biltmore Winery is part of the Village. It also includes an exhibit on the Vanderbilt family, a playground for children, and a farm with horses, pigs, goats, and more. The Village gives visitors a sense of just how vast the estate property is and what it contains.

Images via The Biltmore Company, The Museum of the American Architectural Foundation
  1. An Appreciation for Architecture

When you lay eyes on Biltmore Estate, either in a photo or in person, you get a sense of how incredible the structure is. 

The Estate is heavily influenced by French architecture in the Loire Valley. Vanderbilt visited England and France to find inspiration. 

Several parts of Biltmore Estate have similarities to Château de Blois in France, including the Biltmore Stair Tower and the east façade colonnade. Vanderbilt also visited Château de Chambord and the Château de Chenonceau for inspiration.

While the architecture of Biltmore is always something to marvel at, Christmas lights on the grounds and inside the home make this American icon even more enchanting. And if you’re fortunate, you might even visit with snow covering the grounds.