The Biltmore welcomes guests to their hearth and home for Christmas

John Warner—photo courtesy of The Biltmore House
Biltmore Estate Tree Raising 2016

The tradition of decking the halls at The Biltmore House began in 1895 when George Vanderbilt invited friends and family to his home on Christmas Eve. Today the festivities begin in November with what has come to be known as tree-raising day. Attendance has grown annually for this event largely due to word of mouth among regular estate visitors. “They begin lining up on the driveway in front of the House to welcome Santa as he escorts the tree traveling on a horse-drawn flat-bed wagon,” said LeeAnn Donnelly, with The Biltmore House. “Other guests file into the house to claim a spot at the rope for the best viewing once the tree arrives in the banquet hall because it’s not every day that a crew of 40 people maneuvers a multi-ton tree through the halls of America’s largest home.”Once that 35-foot tall Fraser fir goes up the act of adorning the places and spaces on the grounds requires seven full time floral designers and a back-up staff of fourteen from their floral reserve team. This year those designers chose hearth and home as the theme to weave into the displays throughout the estate. The sense of place and gathering by the fireside conjures up Vanderbilt’s original plan for his home during the holiday season. The designers have brought in warm hues, soft textures, and ornaments inspired by yesteryear to accentuate the mantels and fireplaces around the home.Holiday events at the Biltmore House began on November 4 and will run through January 8, 2017. Information on the schedule and tickets can be found at: