'The Art of Christmas' theme of this year's 'Christmas at Biltmore'

J. H. Osborne • Nov 2, 2018 at 9:00 AM

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — "The Art of Christmas" is the theme for "Christmas at Biltmore" this year, which officially begins Saturday and runs through January 6, 2019. To create this year's decorations in America's largest private home, Biltmore's design team found inspiration from the 250-room chateau's vast art collection.'

In the "Breakfast Room," for example, the inspiration is from two paintings by Renoir — drawing not only from the colors Renoir used, but also seeking to reflect where Renoir painted them, the Mediterranean.

Christmas has been a special time at Biltmore since 1895, when its builder George W. Vanderbilt first opened his new home to family and friends that Christmastime. The big attraction then was a towering Fraser fir tree, decorated for a party that included gifts for the children of estate workers.

More than 100 decorated Christmas trees will greet Biltmore visitors this year, but the Banquet Room tree remains the star. It arrived by horse-drawn carriage at the mansion's front door on Thursday morning and was carried inside and raised into place by dozens of estate workers.

Once again they completed the task without any catastrophes, hoisting the estimated 3,000-pound tree upright at just the right angle to avoid chandeliers above and artwork on the wall.

The tree agan comes from Andrews Nursery in Avery County, N.C.

In a nod to that first tree back on Christmas Eve 1895, the tree is decorated with:500 ornaments; 500 gift boxes; and 500 LED Edison-style lights.

A first this year: the horse-drawn carriage bringing the tree to Biltmore's front door has a marching band escort.

Some tidbits:

• The Banquet Room tree is replaced mid-holiday season to ensure a fresh tree for guests to enjoy and for the safety of the house. The replacement tree usually comes into the house at around 4 a.m. on the day it is replaced, and decorating is nearing completion by 9 a.m. when the first guests arrive.

• 7,527 feet of fresh evergreen garlanding is used during the season, made of mixed white pine and Fraser fir. The garlands are replaced weekly to maintain a fresh look and fragrance for our guests. Faux garlands add another 1,200 feet in Biltmore House and around 1,500 feet in other areas.

For more information visit www.biltmore.com.

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