Take a guided 90-minute tour of the historic Biltmore Estate this holiday season (tickets from $17 per person)!
Smaller may be better when it comes to Christmas gifts like bikinis and GoPro cameras. But for fairy-tale splendor, epic is best. Case in point: Biltmore Estate’s annual Victorian-style celebration (through Jan. 10), this year with the theme A Gilded Age Christmas. In an over-the-top tradition that began more than a century ago, the entrance to George Vanderbilt’s 240-room, 175,000-square-foot French Renaissance château in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N.C., is graced by a 55-foot Norway spruce lit by 45,000 tiny white lights and surrounded by hundreds of hand-lit luminaries. Inside, candles flicker and fireplaces crackle; carolers sing; and the halls are decked with enough boughs of holly, wreaths, ribbons, garlands, poinsettias, ornaments, lights and presents tucked beneath towering trees to fill several hundred of Santa’s sleighs. Event highlights include a gingerbread house-building lesson with a Biltmore pastry chef (Dec. 17 to 19); daily wine tastings at the Winery; and a bonfire in Antler Hill Village (Dec. 23 to 25). After a festive dinner, you can nestle snugly into bed at the charming new Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate or in the elegant hilltop The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Visions of sugarplums will definitely dance in your head. Village Hotel rates from $203, The Inn from $372, special holiday packages available, @biltmoreestate