There’s no better time than the holidays to experience the sights, sounds and grandeur of Hearst Castle. Set atop La Cuesta Encantada or “The Enchanted Hill,” Hearst Castle twinkles with thousands of Christmas lights and all the trimmings. Travel back to the time of Mr. Hearst, who loved to deck the halls and celebrate the holidays in style. Hearst Castle brings to life his love of all things Christmas, and invites you to join in the spirit of the season!
Hearst Castle Christmas
Nearly every one of Hearst Castle’s 68,500 square feet gets the holiday treatment from the end of November through the end of December. In the 1920s and ‘30s, William Randolph Hearst took great pleasure in decorating his home for Christmas, sharing his holiday cheer with famous guests. Today, the tradition continues with Christmas lights throughout the estate, enormous trees decorated as they would have been during Mr. Hearst’s lifetime, and huge wreaths hung outside. Several experiences exclusive to the holiday season allow visitors to glimpse Hearst Castle in a new and special way.
Hearst Castle Holiday Twilight Tour
From the end of November to the end of December, visitors can tour Hearst Castle in the evening, when the Christmas lights shine bright. This magical 75-minute tour takes in holiday highlights, and is designed for accessibility including wheelchairs, service dogs, visual and hearing impairment. Stops include the grand rooms of the Casa Grande, the gardens, kitchen, theater, and the Neptune and Roman swimming pools. All transportation to and from the Visitor Center is included, and reservations are strongly recommended.
Hearst Castle Holiday Feast
Visitors to the estate need not dream of dining at Hearst Castle― they can be personally invited! Members of the Foundation At Hearst Castle are invited to enjoy a black-tie dinner during the holiday season, among the art and antiquities of Mr. Hearst’s dining room. Named after the dining hall of a monastery, the “Refectory” was designed by architect Julia Morgan, who included medieval references throughout. Only the ketchup and mustard bottles on the table give away the fact that the room was, in fact, a modern construction.
Guests to Hearst Castle rarely get to experience the property in such an intimate, dramatic way. The evening includes a sparkling wine reception, multiple courses informed by the setting and the season, and music of the 1920s and ‘30s. The event is limited to just 75 guests, who are transported by private coach to the hilltop estate. In prior years, decadent courses include dishes of the era, including foie gras and oysters, duck confit, chocolate lava cake, and soufflé, all expertly paired with wine.
Hearst and Hollywood Tour
Available only during fall and winter, this tour explores the relationship between stars of stage and screen and William Randolph Hearst’s spectacular home. In the 1920s and ‘30s, the Hollywood elite made San Simeon their destination, that is, if they could score an invitation. In addition to Hearst’s longtime partner, Marion Davies, the property saw actors like Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, and others. This is a two-hour, semi-private tour, meaning your small group will have opportunities to choose from a number of areas to visit while on site. An experienced and knowledgeable guide will escort you through the estate, sharing stories, anecdotes and facts about Hearst’s famous guests.
Dinner and a Movie
Also presented by the Foundation At Hearst Castle, this black-tie fall event pairs a multicourse dinner with a film screening in Hearst’s private theater. The evening begins with a picturesque drive up to the estate, followed by a gourmet dinner with wine in one of Hearst’s guest houses. Afterward, walk through the manicured gardens to the opulent private theater of Casa Grande for a classic film or newsreels from Hearst’s heyday. Here, Hearst indulged in moving pictures with actress Marion Davies and their star-studded lineup of friends. Put yourself in their shoes ― or better yet, their seat! ― on this uniquely decadent night.
Hearst Ranch Winemaker Dinner
On a quintessential Central Coast fall evening, join the proprietors of Hearst Ranch Winery for a six-course seated dinner paired with their wines. While Hearst Ranch Winery lies a few miles away in Paso Robles Wine Country, its San Simeon tasting room boasts special ties to the coast. This event takes place in Old San Simeon’s historic warehouse, just downhill from Hearst Castle, overlooking the idyllic William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach. Prepared by esteemed caterers and accompanied by live music, this night showcases the very best of Hearst Ranch during Paso Robles’s Harvest Weekend.