Come in from the cold: Biltmore offers new audio tours & orchid talks in a setting fit for "Downton Abbey"

Jan 07, 2014, 16:27 ET from Biltmore

ASHEVILLE, N.C., Jan. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- January through March is typically a quieter time of year for visiting America's largest home, allowing time to discover extra touches throughout the estate. Special deals combined with warm indoor attractions make a wintertime visit at Biltmore the best value of the year.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140107/CL42282)

Travelers can take advantage of the lowest admission prices of the year Jan. 13 through March 19. Estate admission begins at $39 when tickets are purchased seven or more days in advance. Regular tickets are $49, and kids aged nine and younger are free. Tickets include free new audio tours of Biltmore House.

Discover more at Biltmore this winter
At no additional charge Jan. 13 through March 19, two new audio tours give an updated interpretation of Biltmore's grand rooms, architecture, collection of art and antiques, as well as true stories about the Vanderbilt family, their guests and servants. For the first time, Biltmore has introduced a children's audio tour in addition to the standard audio tour, created to give kids an imaginative connection to life in the Vanderbilt household.

Travelers won't want to miss a brand new area to explore in Biltmore House in 2014: the second floor living hall. This is the latest restoration project undertaken by Biltmore's curatorial staff and reopened to the public last fall.

Garden walks and orchid talks
More indoor enchantment awaits in the Conservatory. Possibly one of the warmest spots in North Carolina's mountains in winter, the Conservatory is filled with thousands of tropical plants, including an orchid display at its showiest peak in March. Orchids and Biltmore have a long history; in fact, some 800 orchids were on Vanderbilt's list to be purchased for the Conservatory in 1894. Through the efforts of Biltmore's orchid expert, the estate has procured heritage varieties found on the 1894 list, now on display in the Conservatory.

Weekdays in the Conservatory (Mon.-Fri., Jan. 20 through March 19, 11 a.m. daily), expert gardeners discuss the many types of orchids in bloom and topics such as Biltmore's heritage orchids, the history of orchid cultivation, and details about Biltmore's Conservatory. Growing tips and general care information will also be offered. Capacity is limited and orchid talks are free with the price of estate admission.

The south's "Downton Abbey"
As the new season of "Downton Abbey" airs on PBS, fans of the show have taken note of similarities between Biltmore and the period drama hit. Thematic story lines overlap with the time when George and Edith Vanderbilt lived in the 250-room Biltmore House and raised their daughter Cornelia. Parallels between Biltmore and Downton Abbey can be brought to life in two specialty tours. During the Butler's Tour, visitors discover how Biltmore House functioned, past and present, and learn about the work of the Vanderbilt's domestic servants. As for the opulence upstairs, it's easy to imagine what it would have been like to stay at Biltmore with the Vanderbilts as your hosts during the Vanderbilt Family & Friends Tour. Both tours are offered daily for $17 per person. Advance registration is required. An afternoon English tea service at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, complete with traditional English finger sandwiches, scones and tea pastries, will round out a day in the spirit of "Downton Abbey."

Warm-up at the Winery
A stop at Biltmore Winery is a delightful way to spend a winter afternoon with free guided tours of the production facility and complimentary tastings. Specialty wine tours offered at an additional price include the Red Wine and Chocolate Seminar and the Biltmore Bubbles Tour.

Special rates at the Inn on Biltmore Estate
The four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate has special winter pricing with savings up to half off. Rooms start at $149 per night.

For more information, guests should visit Biltmore.com or call 800.411.3812.

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