ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Christmas at Biltmore returns to the North Carolina estate now through Jan. 1, 2013.
Of the more than 50 decorated trees inside Biltmore House, the largest is the 34-foot-tall Fraser Fir in the 72-foot high Banquet Hall. This year, the tree was raised on Thursday, Nov. 1.
The Banquet Hall tree was brought in to Biltmore House by hand, carried by 30 to 40 Biltmore staff members. Both the Banquet Hall tree and the Front Lawn tree come from Andrews Nursery in Newland, N.C. The Biltmore staff has procured its Christmas trees from the Andrews family for more than 30 years.
The tree arrived by horse-drawn wagon as hundreds of Biltmore visitors waited in a biting wind. Santa and his wife were also on hand, as was a driver wearing a stovepipe hat.
With military precision, several dozen Biltmore staffers rolled the tree onto a set of poles, then carefully brought it through the front doors where it was snaked past the indoor Winter Garden and into the Banquet Hall. There, the team used ropes and manpower to hoist the tree into place and nail it into a wooden stand.
The whole affair took about 20 minutes.
The Biltmore uses 500 gift boxes, 500 ornaments and 500 electric lights to decorate the Banquet Hall Tree. The estate uses around 12,000 ornaments on the other trees inside Biltmore House, and that many again around the estate, for a total of 25,000 or more.