11/1/2012 - Holiday season stands tall at Asheville's Biltmore
The holiday season in Asheville, N.C., begins today at the Biltmore House, when a horse-drawn carriage driven by Santa Claus delivers the Christmas tree.
A 35-foot Fraser fir will be decorated and placed in the banquet hall at the chateau-styled mansion. The tree will be carried into the house by hand by 30 to 40 employees.
Once the tree is inside, the staff will hoist it into place using ropes and pulleys to secure it. The tree will come to life with the holiday spirit as members of the floral and engineering services teams decorate the tree with more than 500 large ornaments, hundreds of lights and many gift-wrapped packages.
Christmas at Biltmore will be celebrated beginning Saturday through Jan. 1. To accommodate the holidays, from Nov. 9 to Dec. 31, the estate is open 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The decorations and holiday cheer will be reminiscent of what the estate was like during the time of its builder George Washington Vanderbilt III.
Vanderbilt first opened the house to family and friends 117 years ago on Christmas Eve. Thousands of visitors have continued the tradition of touring the estate during the holiday season.