December in Helen is a time of grandeur, with German Christmas flare in the Blue Ridge Mountains that every family must experience at least once. Here are 13 Christmas events that make 2019 your year to visit!!
Find one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts with German flair, sample pastries and raise a pint to the most wonderful time of the year all while making your holidays brighter with a weekend or week-long getaway.
Lifetime Movie Magic
“Christmas Love Letter,” a Lifetime Films movie was filmed in Alpine Helen and is set to air at 6pm, December 21. You can take in the sights from the movie while you’re in town, including a carriage ride through Downtown Helen Georgia.
Click on the movie photo from Sunshine Films to see trailer.
Fun fact: Parts of this movie and another Helen-shot Holiday Film coming out in 2020 were filmed at Cimmi’s Courtyard Cafe. You MUST make a point of coming here during the holiday season for breakfast all day long. The staff is so sweet, and the food y’all. OMG!
The boys has choco chip pancakes, Dan had a Philly cheesesteak, which he devoured (the roll was perfect, he said) and I had the country-fried steak with their homemade biscuits. Gah – ya’ll so good!
Hofer’s is our other go-to place when we visit, and if you come during the holidays then you’ll want to get the kids a hot apple cider and yourself a Glühwein, a traditional German beverage offered during the Christmas holidays. It is made from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and vanilla pods.
Festival of Trees
Visit Unicoi State Park and Adventure Lodge in Helen, Ga from Nov 13 – Dec 7 for the Festival of Trees. You’ll see a number of festive Christmas trees and wreaths, all of which are available for bidding. All proceeds are awarded to the United Way of White County.
If your timing is right, you can visit Santa while taking in the trees. About mid-month you and the kids will want to enjoy Breakfast with Santa. Your all-you-can-eat buffet includes pancakes, French toast, waffles, frittata, fruit, bacon, sausage and so much more. The kids will love the decorating station, where you can top your pancake or waffle with chocolate chips, gummy bears, and all the fun things that Buddy the Elf eats at every meal!
Afterward, grab a photo with Santa, enjoy holiday crafts, and head outside to roast marshmallows! You can pay at the door, but the line is long, so be sure to register beforehand to make your morning easier. Check out the Unicoi events page for dates and times.
Christkindlmarkt Traditional German Market
One of the most unique Christmas markets in the North Georgia area, this shopping opportunity takes place Nov 30 – Dec 1 and again Dec 7-8 at the Helen Market Platz in the center of town. It’s the ideal place for stocking up on stocking stuffers, with specialty gift items, decorations, assorted savory food, drinks and candied treats.
Alpine Golf Games
If you’ve ever been to Helen, you know you have to play some Alpine Golf, right? During Christmas, I highly recommend heading there just before sunset. As dusk is approaching, thousands and thousands of holiday lights turn on within the mini gold course and it is DAZZLING! I’ve never seen anything like it. Don’t miss this chance to get an all-new mini golf experience.
Victorian Christmas at Harman Farm
Visit Helen to see Georgia’s newest park – Hardman Farm State Historic Site – to see the house decorated in period holiday cheer. Learn about Victorian holiday traditions from 4pm – 7pm the weekends of Dec 6-7, Dec 13-14, and Dec 20-21.
You’ll purchase tickets in the Visitor Center, then tour the gift shop inside.
Outside, purchase hot cider or hot chocolate, and then warm up by the fire. The Boy Scouts offer free s’mores making packets that the kids will love.
After that, hop aboard a horse-drawn wagon that takes you to the Victorian home of Captain James Nichols, father of Anna Ruby (for whom Anna Ruby Falls is named.) Tour the home with Christmas trees in every room, live music in the parlor, and “members of the family” in period dress sharing what is was like during an 1870’s Christmas.
After your self-guided tour (including a photo op with Santa) then take the horses back to the main building, or walk the trail through old-fashioned lantern light.
Christmas in the Mountains Lighted Parade
Make your way to Downtown Cleveland on Dec 7th at 7pm for the annual Christmas parade. Visit and get your photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and shop at the Holiday Market on the Cleveland Courthouse Square. Make your way over to Freedom Park for a luminaria lighting, food, musical performances and activities for the kids, as well as the lighting of the community tree.
Cabbage Patch Christmas
While you’re in Cleveland, don’t miss the chance to see Santa (select dates) at Babyland General Hospital. The photos are very affordable, and you’ll have the chance to see the Babyland Hospital decorated with Christmas light-ed trees and festive decor!
Helen Christmas Parade
If you miss the Lighted Parade (or even if you don’t!) then follow up the next weekend in Downtown Helen for another Christmas celebration. This parade takes place Dec 14th at 2pm. It’s their 50th year, so expect big things…and yes, the Big Man – Santa himself – will be there. Rain or shine!
This is such a fun small-town parade with fire trucks, horses, dirt-buggies, unique floats, and TONS of candy! The best place to be is across the street from the Downtown Gazebo!
Hike Anna Ruby Falls
Ok – is this officially a Christmas event in Helen? No…BUT you still need to do it. Why? Because during winter, the Smith Creek and two falling rivers that make Anna Ruby Falls shine in all their glory! With the trees bare, you are able to see the full majesty of this area.
It’s a different experience than you will ever have in summer or spring. Plus, you want to be sure to brush up on your Anna Ruby experience before visiting Hardman Farm for the Victorian celebration.
See the Lights on the Georgia Mountain Coaster
We recommend taking a ride (or 2 or 3) on the Georgia Mountain Coaster at night!! Yes, you’ll want your gloves and hat for this adventure, for sure. But, as one of the tallest points in Downtown Helen, you get a spectacular view of the city lighted up for holidays. It’s just pure WOW!
Pro tip: Your second ride on the coaster is 1/2 price!! That’s a no-brainer, right!!
Make it a Merry Weekend
The very best way to enjoy a Christmas weekend in Helen is to make it a long weekend, complete with a fire, hot cocoa, and lots of snuggles.
This year we stayed at Peace in the Woods from Georgia Mountain Rentals, and we HIGHLY recommend it! We didn’t want to leave!
This 2-bedroom, 2-bath includes a hot tub, fireplace (a must in winter!) and two porches. It’s secluded, but still close to town, and the kitchen has everything you need.
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Disclosure: Thanks to Helen for having us to facilitate this post. Opinions here are always our own.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.