Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas at Hearst Castle

I’ve heard that Christmas was one of William Randolph Hearst’s favorite holidays (didn't he get a way-cool sled one year?). So can you just imagine celebrating the holidays at Hearst Castle in San Simeon in the 1930s and 40s? (And they say the 1990s were the era of excess!)

The Julia Morgan-designed estate perched atop La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) was indeed an enchanting setting for Hearst’s little soirees; the famed publishing magnate entertained on a grand scale, and it's said that bigwigs fought over invitations to the Castle during the holidays.

Nowadays, Hearst Castle® is a state park, so you don’t need an invitation to Christmas—just a reservation (and it’s not too soon to start working on it). Hearst Castle is already quite decorative (to put it mildly). It looks like the top of a wedding cake. For a princess. So this may be gilding the lily, but what the heck, Hearst would have loved it: by December 1st the Christmas decorations will all be up and ready for you to enjoy. The Assembly Room, The Refectory, and The Morning Room are lavish with decorations—hand-made garlands, brilliant red poinsettias, and two 18-foot Christmas trees decorated with lights and traditional ornaments. (To see these rooms, sign up for The Experience Tour during the daytime.)

Details: Tours offered daily (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day). Reservations are highly recommended (availability is limited). The Experience Tour costs $24, $12 for ages 6-17; for reservations call 800/444-4445 or online at

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COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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