America’s largest home goes all-out for Christmas. All thanks to horticulturists, designers and staff behind the scenes.
On Christmas Eve 1895, Biltmore’s founder George Vanderbilt first opened the doors of his 8,000-acre estate to family and friends.
Today, Biltmore’s design team has interpreted the theme of “An 1895 Christmas” into this year’s holiday décor, taking inspiration from the estate’s archives with a focus on a traditional and classic Christmas. The grand décor features more than 100 Christmas trees, 25,000 ornaments, 100,000 holiday lights, nearly 6,000 feet of garland, 1,200 traditional poinsettias and additional favorite holiday plants.
Todd Roy is one of a half-dozen horticulturists at Biltmore. For the past five years, he’s served as horticulturist for Biltmore’s 7,000-square-foot Conservatory. He changes out the displays in spring, summer and winter, taking up to a year to plan.
This year, he’s incorporated a new breed of poinsettias, Golden Glow, from Mull’s Greenhouses in Shelby, NC.
“I love to see the transformation of the before and after,” says Roy. “As an artist, I love playing with color and texture. We take the same space each season and make it look completely different. There’s nothing we love more than seeing the reactions of our visitors.”
Christmas at Biltmore by the Numbers
- The largest tree inside Biltmore House is the Vanderbilt traditional fresh 35-foot-tall Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall. The decorative topper is an enormous eight-pointed, 36-inch Bethlehem star, custom built by a member of Biltmore’s engineering team.
- A lit 55-foot-tall Norway spruce encircled by 36 illuminated evergreens and shrubs decorates the Front Lawn of Biltmore House for Candlelight Christmas Evenings.
- There are around 45,000 lights and 150 candles inside Biltmore House. Approximately 135,000 LED and mini lights are in other areas around the estate.
- More than 55,300 lights illuminate the Front Lawn tree, with around 33,280 more on the surrounding trees and shrubs. Uplighting will illuminate the poplar trees lining the driveway.
- Biltmore staff members prepare and light 250 luminaries each day at dusk for guests arriving for Candlelight Christmas Evenings tours.
- The Banquet Hall Tree is decorated with 500 ornaments and 500 LED Edison bulb-style electric lights, along with an abundance of gift boxes tucked into the tree’s limbs.
- There are more than 1,200 traditional poinsettias found in the Christmas displays around the estate.
- Other familiar holiday plants and flowers include amaryllis, Christmas cactus, bromeliads, orchids, peace lilies, cyclamen, begonias, kalanchoe and potted green plants.
- There are 225 fresh wreaths and sprays, along with 90 faux pieces, around the estate. Wreaths are made of fresh white pine and Fraser fir, ornamented wit golden arborvitae, holly, or other natural materials such as twigs and cones.
- They use 3,120 feet of fresh evergreen garlanding 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 1,000 feet in Biltmore House and around 1,800 feet in other areas.