The holiday season can be stressful — there’s so much to plan for and get done that it’s easy to forget that it should be a time to enjoy the special people in your life. Sometimes we just need a reminder to slow down and spend quality time with our closest friends and family, and a trip to the Biltmore is a great way to experience everything that makes the holiday season extra special while making lifelong memories. There’s so much to see and do at the historic estate, it’s likely to become a new yearly tradition.

While the Biltmore is always worth visiting, during the holiday season it’s especially exceptional. The house is completely transformed from top to bottom for Christmas, and the decorations are over-the-top, elaborate and absolutely mesmerizing.

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One of our favorite parts of Christmas at Biltmore is the 55-foot-tall Norway spruce that’s center of attention on the front lawn.

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Even the estate’s lion statue shows off for the holiday season.

Every detail is so thought out and intricate, it takes the estate’s floral department years to plan and execute the holiday decor in the house. Each year the decor theme changes and is planned five years in advance, so it’s always exciting to see what they’ve come up with from year-to-year.

This year’s theme is “Hearth and Home,” which features garland draped mantels, thousands of twinkle lights, vintage ornaments, toys and traditional holiday colors including warm reds, greens and enchanting golds. Just inside the house there are 62 decorated trees to see!

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Just a peek at this year’s beautiful “Hearth and Home” theme.

You can experience the Biltmore on your own self-guided tour, or you can take advantage of one of their specialty tours. One of our favorite tours is the Rooftop Tour, a guided tour that takes you to the top of the mansion, balconies and other areas that you wouldn’t typically see on a self-guided tour. The Rooftop Tour is an additional $19 after daily admission. (See tour times here.)

Now through January 7, 2017, guests can bundle up and experience another speciality tour — Candlelight Christmas Evenings, a seasonal tour that gives guests the chance to walk through the house at night with fireplaces ablaze and Christmas lights lighting the way. You will need reservations for the nightly tour. Visit biltmore.com for tickets.

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Guests can take in panoramic views from the very top of the mansion on the Rooftop Tour.

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From floor to ceiling, the Biltmore house is all decked out for the holiday season.

There are several photographers set up around the house who are ready to take family pictures, which can then be purchased. (Might be a great idea for this year’s holiday cards!) If you’re looking to take your own pictures, there’s no shortage of places around the estate. One of the best places to snap a few pictures is the hill directly across from the house — it’s a hike, but completely worth it! You’ll get great views of the entire house, front lawn and Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Views of the entire house and front lawn from the hill directly across from the house

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Make the hike all the way to the top of the hill and check out the incredible marble statue named Diana.

We also love the views of the South Terrace for pictures. You'll get a unique view of the mansion.

We also love the views of the South Terrace for pictures. You’ll get a unique view of the mansion.

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Like we said, there’s no shortage of picturesque spots around the estate!

Once you’ve been through the mansion and taken some pictures, you’ll also want to meander through the estate’s conservatory, where there are hundreds of seasonal poinsettias, wreaths and plenty of exotic plants and even butterflies.

The outdoor gardens are also sensational and constantly changing from season to season. While we were there, the gardens were full of burnt orange and vibrant yellow mums.

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We love visiting the conservatory to see rare and exotic plants.

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The gardens outside the conservatory change seasonally, but they are always breathtaking.

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The rose garden boasts 250 different varieties of the most beautiful roses you’ve ever seen.

Biltmore’s Antler Hill Village is full of shopping, dining and (our favorite of all!), WINE! So not only can you get some of your holiday shopping done, but you can also enjoy a great meal and complimentary wine tasting.

Make sure you save plenty of time to visit Biltmore’s Winery — as a complimentary tasting is included in your admission. Whether you like whites or reds, sweet or robust, there’s seriously something for every palate.

After the wine tasting, relax at the Wine Bar with a glass of wine, cheese plate and chocolate truffle pairings. It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up after so much walking and exploring.

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You can spend hours wandering around the shops and cafes in Biltmore’s Antler Hill Village.

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We found these adorable Biltmore tree ornaments and other great gifts for friends and family in Antler Hill Village shops.

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Antler Hill Village is just as beautifully and elaborately decorated as the mansion itself.

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Just a few of the many bottles of wine you can taste while visiting Biltmore.

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Allen was not only very knowledgeable about the estate’s wines, but he was also a good sport as we asked lots of questions and took plenty of pictures.

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After your wine tasting, we suggest grabbing a glass of your favorite wine and a snack at the Wine Bar!

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We could’t resist trying the Wine Bar’s hazelnut and double chocolate truffles with a glass of the Biltmore Estate Limited Release Merlot.

With 8,000 acres of land to explore and countless outdoor activities including horseback riding, sporting clays and fly fishing, you may want to consider staying on the estate overnight or for an entire weekend, to truly get a full Biltmore experience. There are two great accommodation options right on the property,  The Inn on Biltmore Estate, an up-scale, four-star hotel with personalized services, and the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, which is conveniently located in the heart of Antler Hill Village and leads right to the winery!

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The Antler Hill Village gazebo with The Inn at Biltmore Estate overhead.

If you can swing it, we suggest going on a week day to avoid large crowds — but no matter when you go, you and your loved ones are sure to have an incredible time establishing your new annual holiday tradition!

Biltmore Estate is located at 1 Lodge St., Asheville, NC 28803. Daytime tickets to the Biltmore Estate are $65 for adults and $32.50 for children between the ages of 10-16. Visit biltmore.com to order tickets online and check for specials.

Here’s to the start of a festive holiday season and memories that will last a lifetime!

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