Christmas Is A Magical Time At Biltmore Estate

Thursday, December 21, 2017 - by Dennis Norwood photographer Dennis Norwood and his wife, Gail, recently took a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. While there, they toured the conservatory and house, itself, as well as taking the extremely enchanting candlelight tour of the house and enjoying a delicious and romantic anniversary dinner at the estate's Deerpark Inn.

Christmas-time is a truly magical time at the estate.
The staff decorates the house, built from 1889-1895, to resemble the first Christmas the Vanderbilt family spent in their country home the year it was finished. Decorations include 55 fully decorated trees, including the traditional 35-foot Fraser fir in the banquet room.

That tree alone has 500 lights, 500 ornaments and 500 gift boxes. In addition to the trees inside the house, there are 58 additional trees in other areas around the estate. Inside the house there are 30,000 lights and 150 candles with a total of 130,000 LED lights on the entire estate.

There are over 22,000 ornaments on the Biltmore Christmas trees and at night 300 luminaries line the driveway up to the house.

The Candlelight Tour in the evening gives an entirely different perspective of the house and is seen as it might have been when the Vanderbilt family first enjoyed the holiday after its construction. The house is lit by candles and the lights on the trees with fires flickering in many of the fireplaces. Music by a talented choral group adds to the festive nature of the house.

During the day you will hear renderings by a computer-controlled 1916 Skinner pipe organ, located in the massive banquet hall. This instrument was donated to the estate in 1998 by a private individual. When the house was built Mr. Vanderbilt did have a pipe organ installed, which he later donated to All Souls Church, which he built in the village just outside the estate's gates.

George Biltmore *1862-1914) first visited Asheville in 1888 and the following year construction was begun on the palatial estate. The house contains 35 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces and 43 bathrooms, none of which are open to the public our guide laughingly informed us.

The family, who still owns the estate, first opened it to the public in 1930 in an effort to bolster the estate's financial position and at the behest of the City of Asheville, which hoped to help its tourist draw. In 1942 a train load of paintings an sculptures was moved to the state from the national Gallery to protect them from any attacks on the nation's capitol.

There are a variety of events throughout the year, notably highlighted by the changing gardens and Conservatory, home to some of the most beautiful flowers and plants in the region.

Throughout the warmer months several nighttime concerts are hosted on the grounds beside the house.

The estate has also been a location for at least 15 movies, including Being There, The Swan, Last of the Mohicans, Richie Rich, Hannibal, A Breed Apart, Mr. Destiny and Forrest Gump.

If you visit, there are several dining options on the Estate itself, from the elegant dining room at the Inn to several cafes and the extremely delicious buffet at the Deerpark Inn. The Stable Café is a recommend lunch location.While staying at one of the three options on Biltmore can be pricy, there are more than adequate hotels/motels nearby.

Christmas at Biltmore remains open through Jan. 7, and is well worth the short drive to Asheville. 

A new exhibit, "Glamour on Board: Fashion From Titanic the Movie," begins Feb. 9, 2018. It will be the first large scale exhibition of costumes from the movie.

For more information, including ticket pricing and purchase, go to


Dennis Norwood is a writer/photographer for The; he can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @DennisENorwood.

Baseball Legend Cal Ripken, Jr., Music, Larger-Than-Life-Sized Balloons Highlight Pigeon Forge’s New Music In The Mountains Spring Parade On May 4

With Cal Ripken, Jr. leading the way, Pigeon Forge’s (Tennessee) new Music in the Mountains spring parade is set for May 4 at 6 p.m. (Eastern) on the city’s Parkway with entries from Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia plus several new elements to extend the celebration into the weekend.   Mr. Ripken, a member of the National Baseball Hall ... (click for more)

This Week’s Tennessee Tourism Round Up

Spend a date night around the campfire, experience a 3D Rolling Stones’ concert, find out the latest runway fashions, interact with dinosaurs, savor barbecue or a slawburger and take a Tennessee Whiskey adventure. Here’s what’s going on across Tennessee this week. For a complete list of events, visit Ongoing  Nashville – Fifty photos in ... (click for more)

1 Person Killed In Plane Crash At The Collegedale Airport

A person was killed in a plane crash Friday evening. Charles Swain, who is the director of the airport said the plane is a total loss. It was a single-occupant plane. He said the plane was taking off when it crashed. The FAA and NTSB are investigating the accident. (click for more)

TVA Issues Water And Road Traffic Cautions In Areas Of Savannah Creek, Harrison Bay And Chickamauga Marina

The Tennessee Valley Authority is issuing water and road traffic cautions for transmission line work that will span from just north of Savannah Creek to Chickamauga Dam. This work is part of several projects to upgrade TVA’s transmission system to ensure continued delivery of 99.999 percent reliable power. Area residents should expect to see helicopters working in this area ... (click for more)

A Tribute For My Brother – Sgt. Jonathan Gardner, U.S. Army

Seven years ago today, my family and I found out that my brother, Sgt. Jonathan D. Gardner, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb, (explosively formed penetrator - EFP), while on a mission in Kuwait. The EFP went through the bottom of his seat and put a softball size hole in his upper thigh. The doctors said that if the bomb had entered the Humvee an inch to the right, he ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Black Telephone

If you have never seen one in an antique store you wouldn’t know that the first telephones were contained in a not-so-small wooden box that had a snout-looking mouth piece and a separate speaker that you would hold on your ear while you talked. This was many years ago when phones were fun as compared to today’s tiny cell phones that rudely interrupt us from the task-at-hand both ... (click for more)