Local reviews the Biltmore experience at Christmas
I’m not what you’d call an upper-crust kind of guy. The few times I’ve tried to make my way into the more structured world of the elite, I didn’t like it. But what I do like? I like the trappings. I love the tapestries and giant fireplaces and everything that came with being insanely wealthy in old Europe or the new world. In short, I like Biltmore and places like it. The grandeur appeals to my imagination. And while I wouldn’t want to live in that world, I like to visit it, maybe even imagine myself in it.
Christmas at Biltmore is especially magical. And, the holiday doesn’t end on December 25. When you’re as rich as the Vanderbilts, you get to choose when Christmas is over. This season, Christmas at Biltmore begins Nov. 3, 2023 and extends to Jan. 7, 2024. Christmas decorations will stay up the entire time.
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What can you do at Biltmore? What to expect
The expansive mansion was built in the 1890s as a summer home for a ridiculously wealthy member of the Vanderbilt family George Vanderbilt. It is essentially a village with a hotel, an inn and cottages you can rent for overnight stays. There’s hiking, craft demonstrations and live music at the bandstand seasonally. There is also a farmyard where kids can see laying hens, lambs, calves, goats and draft horses.
So what do you even wear when you visit such a place? Since Biltmore is so opulent, many people feel compelled to dress up a little. But remember you’re going to be doing a lot of walking and exploring, so I’d focus on wearing clothes that are comfortable. You’re not going to be running into any of the Vanderbilts, so you don’t have to impress anybody. The only place you need to dress up at Biltmore is The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, where business casual attire is recommended. Finally, if you’re planning to visit for Christmas, the prices are a little higher, so expect to pay a little more.
How much does Biltmore cost at Christmas?
During the holiday season, there are a few options – each with tiered ticket prices.
For $110 to $140 per person, you get a tour of the house with an audio guide, access to the grounds either the day before or after your evening visit as well as access to Antler Hill Village and Winery and a wine tasting.
For $145 to $175 per person, you get all that plus entrance to the art exhibit, Chihuly at Biltmore and free next-day access to the grounds.
Finally, the $380 to $410 tier offers an evening visit to Biltmore with an audio guide and a 90-minute tour that will give you the perspective of the Vanderbilts’ very first guests. All tiers come with complimentary parking. You can purchase tickets online here.
What can you do for free at Biltmore?
You may be wondering since you have to pay to hike the grounds if there’s anything you can do at Biltmore for free. The good news is, you have two options for free entertainment. If you like to window shop, you can visit the gatehouse shop or the Shops at Biltmore, located across from the entrance to the mansion. The Shops at Biltmore are a series of shops, restaurants and cafes. The village features tree-lined streets, vintage cottages and brick walkways. It’s charming. It’s picturesque. But it ain’t exactly Biltmore.
Also, admittedly, if you lack self-control and end up buying souvenirs from the gatehouse or the Shops at Biltmore, these experiences may become considerably less free rather quickly. Finally, if you’ve already purchased an admission ticket, you’ll be able to partake in free wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery.
Is Christmas at Biltmore worth it?
I would say Christmas at Biltmore is worth the splurge, especially at the baseline tiers. It is a unique experience that you and your family will be unlikely to forget. That being said, the upper tier is a bit steep for my taste.
If you’re looking to save some cash, I recommend checking out some of the special offers and discounts, including military and senior citizen discounts, which are updated throughout the year on the Biltmore website. You may also be able to save a little extra money by booking a tour on a weekday instead of the weekend when pricing is usually a bit cheaper. Reserving your tickets early is also recommended if you want to save some money on admission. To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit the Biltmore website.
Have you visited Biltmore at Christmas? Let me know in the comments. Read the web story version of this article here.