For a brilliant way to start the holiday season, visit Asheville's Biltmore Estate beginning Nov 3rd for Christmas in the daytime.

I know we literally just finished celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but it’s already Christmas in Asheville. This year, Christmas comes early to Asheville’s Biltmore Estate. Beginning this Saturday, November 3rd and continuing through to the new year, the historic home will be decked out in all its Christmas finery for daytime visitors.

From 9am to 4:30pm every day, visitor’s to Asheville‘s Biltmore Estate will be treated to dozens of Christmas trees, including the 35 foot fir tree loaded with oversized ornaments located in the Banquet Hall. The grand staircase is made even grander with dozens of feet of beautiful garlands woven throughout the banister. Hundreds of poinsettias bring a dash of holiday color to this Asheville home’s 250 rooms. Take a step back in time by visiting the Antler Hill Village on the grounds. The Conservatory holds a real treat for the eyes, with color exploding from every room.

The Biltmore will be holding free seminars on how to make your very own Christmas wreaths at home as well as other fun, traditional holiday decorations. Sign up for a red wine and chocolate tasting (for an additional fee). You can even start your Christmas shopping early by visiting the gift shop for a unique present under your family’s tree this year. To really get you in the mood, traditional organ music will play throughout the entire first floor, emanating from the Earnest Skinner crafted organ located in the Banquet Hall.

Tickets for the day celebration are $59 for adults and $29.50 for kids ages 10-16. You can make your reservation now by visiting their website. Each ticket includes a self-guided tour of the estate, access to the gardens, Antler Hill Village and the current in-house exhibit The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad and a complimentary wine tasting (for the adults) as well as guided tour of the estate’s own winery. Christmas comes early to Asheville‘s Biltmore Estate. Take a step back in time with your family at the largest privately owned home in the country.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here:

Western North Carolina Real Estate - Whether you're interested in buying or selling your Hendersonville/Asheville area home, consider using the services of Rich Cooke, John Knapp and Jan Knapp for your Western North Carolina real estate needs.


Gingerbread House Competition in AshevilleThe Grove Park Inn will be hosting its annual gingerbread house competition in Asheville soon and is currently accepting applications from competitors.  Beginning Monday, November 14, 2011, closed door judging of all contestants will start in the Grove Park Inn’s Grand Ballroom.  Awards will be handed out the same day.  However, if you don’t fancy yourself a gingerbread house architect, you can still enjoy all the entries beginning Wednesday, November 16th and continuing through New Year’s Day 2012, when they will be on full public display.

Contestants are allowed to bring their entries to the Vanderbilt Atrium (Level 7) from 2pm to 7pm on Sunday, November 13th and again from 7am to 8:30am on Monday, November 14th.  Judging will begin in the Grand Ballroom (Level 8) at 9:30am.  Awards will be handed out at 5:30pm and are open for the contestants as well as the general public to attend.  While judges look over all the entries, the public is welcome to participate in a jigsaw puzzle tournament (from 10am to 12pm), a scavenger hunt in the Great Hall (from 1pm to 2pm) or listen to live music performed by the NC Thumbpickers while enjoying an afternoon snack or drink in the Great Hall.  You definitely won’t be bored!

Entries in the Grove Park Inn’s National Gingerbread House Competition here in Asheville will actually get some air time on ABC’s Good Morning America during their December 23rd broadcast.  But you can get a preview by visiting the Inn and taking a tour any Sunday through Thursday until January 1, 2012.  Resort guests, of course, can view the displays anytime they wish.  Hour long tours will be available from 9am to 3pm Wednesdays through Sundays beginning November 16th.  On the tour, your guide will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the gingerbread competition as well as details about judging, how the winning entrants created their magnificent structures and more about the display itself.  The cost for the guided tour is just $12 per adult and $6 for kids ages 12 and under.  Reservations are required (800-438-5800).

Get in the Christmas spirit by either joining in on the Grove Park Inn’s gingerbread house competition in Asheville this Sunday and Monday or by visiting the public display of all entries beginning Wednesday, November 16th.  Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with friends and family.  It also brings out the amazing natural beauty we get to enjoy here in Western North Carolina.  The gingerbread house competition is just one of the fun ways to kick off the holiday season here in Asheville.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here:

Christmas at the Biltmore in AshevilleBuilt by George Washington Vanderbilt II (youngest son of railroad tycoon William Henry Vanderbilt), the Biltmore estate is one of Asheville‘s most opulent icons.  Over 2,000,000 square feet in size and still owned by Vanderbilt descendants, the Biltmore House welcomes thousands of guests every year.  Christmas comes to the Biltmore in Asheville beginning this Friday, November 4, 2011 with the Christmas at Biltmore Daytime Celebration.  The following weekend (November 11, 2011) is when this opulent estate begins their Candleight Christmas Evenings.

During the daytime celebration, guests will be treated to the most magnificent holiday decorations you are liable to ever feast your eyes on, including a 35 foot Christmas tree, decked out in ribbons, traditional ornaments and tons of lights.  This is only one of the several Christmas trees you’ll find around the estate.  Garlands sweep along the elegant banisters.  And Antler Hill Village, located on the grounds, is a perfect place to relax with the family and take in the sights.  The conservatory is bursting with red poinsettias, tropical flowers, white Christmas cactus and so much more.

At night, the estate simply glows from the millions of lights strewn about.  The ambiance of the estate takes on a totally different look when lit by thousands of candles.  The warmth of the lit fireplaces will get you in the holiday spirit as well.  The exterior lighting displays will simply take your breath away.

Fine dining is available at the Christmas style buffet.  You’ve never taken a wine tour like this before!  Wine tasting is even better by candlelight.  Do some Christmas shopping for that one-of-a-kind gift that evokes the feeling of days gone by.  The Winter Garden Choir helps ring in the holiday season with Christmas carol favorites.  There’s even a six foot long gingerbread replica of the Biltmore House set up in the main kitchen.

If you’re interested in experiencing Christmas at the Biltmore in Asheville, visit their website to reserve your tickets for the daytime festivities, candlelight evening celebration or even to spend a couple of days there.  Even though Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away, it’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit.  And what a unique way to do it!

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here: