'Bigger and better' Christmas arrives at Glensheen Mansion

With halls bedecked and sleigh bells a-ringing, there are few places more Christmassy in Minnesota than Glensheen Mansion.
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With halls bedecked and sleigh bells a-ringing, there are few places more Christmassy in Minnesota than Glensheen Mansion.

Setting aside the 118-year-old estate's somewhat murkier recent history, the 39-room mansion is full of festive splendor after its Christmas display opened to the public on Friday.

Christmas is becoming the busiest time of the year for the famous mansion, with the Duluth News Tribune reporting that a lot of that is down to visits from locals.

"Ninety-five percent of our visitors are from outside Duluth (throughout the year)," Glensheen director Dan Hartman told the newspaper. "But during Christmas, 30 percent are local. For a lot of Duluthians, this is their Christmas tradition."

With a stunning 25-foot Christmas tree greeting visitors as the main atrium, guests can find a further 24 decorated trees throughout the house – with the living room this year featuring an extra tree.

The mansion is strewn with hundreds of feet of garland and displays of traditional wooden decorations, while younger visitors are challenged to find all of the 20 elves hidden throughout the building.

Each guest gets a free cup of cocoa in the carriage house and will get to taste some shortbread cookies, based on the recipe used by Clara Congdon, who built the home with her husband Chester between 1905 and 1908.

Glensheen suggests guests come for a tour during the day before heading to the spectacular night-time Bentleyville Christmas lights display.

There will be more Christmas festivities at Glensheen this coming weekend, Dec. 3-4, when a pop-up Christmas village featuring 30 vendors will set up in log cabins on estate grounds.

If you've never been up to Glensheen before, here's a look at what you can expect this Christmas:

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