Christmas at Biltmore during the daytime includes access to Biltmore House,
the Gardens and Antler Hill Village & Winery. The village links to the
Winery, where visitors may take a complimentary guided tour culminating with
a complimentary wine tasting.
Biltmore House is a Châteauesque-styled mansion near Asheville, North
Carolina, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It
is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 135,000 square
feet and featuring 250 rooms. Still owned by one of Vanderbilt's
descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples
of the Gilded Age, and of significant gardens in the Garden à la française
and English Landscape garden styles in the United States. In 2007, it was
ranked eighth on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American
Institute of Architects.
In the 1880s, at the height of the Gilded Age, George Washington Vanderbilt,
youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt, began to make regular visits with
his mother, Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt (1821–1896), to the Asheville, NC
area. He loved the scenery and climate so much that he decided to create his
own summer estate in the area, which he called his "little mountain escape",
just as his older brothers and sisters had built opulent summer houses in
places such as Newport, Rhode Island, and Hyde Park, New York.
View of the west side of the house from the Shrub gardenIn an attempt to
bolster the Depression-driven economy, Vanderbilt's only child, Cornelia
Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, and her husband, John Amherst Cecil, opened Biltmore
House to the public in March 1930. Family members continued to live there
until 1956, when it was permanently opened to the public as a house museum.
Visitors from all over the world continue to marvel at the 70,000 gallon
indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, early 20th century exercise equipment,
two-story library, and other rooms filled with artworks, furniture and
19th-century novelties such as elevators, forced-air heating,
centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms and an intercom system. The estate
remains a major tourist attraction in Western North Carolina and has over 1
million visitors each year. The grounds include 75 acres of formal gardens,
a winery and the Inn on Biltmore Estate, a AAA four-diamond 213-room hotel.