2020 UPDATE: This year, Biltmore celebrates 125 years of welcoming guests into the home with a Virtual Tree Raising event, showing a behind-the-scenes look at the process and monumental teamwork that goes into the creation of this exciting tradition. Tune in on November 4, 2020, at 5 PM for the premiere. Get details on their website. For a photo tour of the tree raising process, see below.
The centerpiece for the Christmas at Biltmore celebration is the 35-foot Fraser fir Christmas Tree in the Banquet Hall of Biltmore House - a tradition started by George Vanderbilt himself. Navigating the massive tree in by the priceless artifacts and raising it around the massive chandeliers requires precision and an army of 50 "elves"! The tree is replaced mid-holiday season to ensure a fresh tree. This replacement tree arrives at the house by 4 AM and decoration is wrapping up by the time the first guests arrive at 9 AM. Enjoy this "behind the scenes" photo tour of the process.
After workers run steel poles under the tree, the wagon departs. This highly orchestrated team carefully carries the massive tree into the front door.
PULL! Coming into the Banquet Hall is a little tricky. This scene may remind you of squeezing your tree through your front door.
Ropes from workers in the balcony and on the main floor guide the tree carefully around the chandelier (and it's very close!). Since the Banquet Hall is 70 feet high, there is plenty of room at top. Scaffolding is quickly assembled to begin untying to release the branches. The tree was grown at Andrews Nursery in Newland. We had special access inside the Banquet Hall to photograph the arrival. Great news! You can watch from home with Biltmore's live stream on their Facebook page.
The tree is decorated with 500 ornaments up to several feet long, 500 lights and 500 packages (as George Vanderbilt decorated the tree).
Meanwhile throughout the house and other buildings on the estate, find 55+ more decorated Christmas trees each created by Biltmore designers with different themes each year. You can learn some of their techniques and tips at a daily "how to" seminar at A Gardener's Place in the Conservatory. See more photos of Biltmore House Christmas.
The tallest Christmas tree is the 55-foot-tall Norway spruce with 45,000+ lights on the front lawn of Biltmore House lit for candlelight evenings.
For tour info, specials and more, go to our complete Christmas at Biltmore Guide.