Everyone must experience a Helen, GA Christmas at least once!
This beautiful German-inspired town is a great backdrop for a picture-perfect holiday adventure in the Blue Ridge mountains. Find one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts, eat delicious food, take in the beauty, get out in nature, and raise a pint to the most wonderful time of the year.
Ready for a German Christmas? Here are 13 Christmas events and adventures that make Helen the perfect place to spend the holidays.
LIGHTING OF THE VILLAGE
DATE: Nov. 26, 2021
Start the holidays off right with the annual Lighting of the Village in Riverside Park.
This fun event kicks off the holiday season in Helen! On Friday, November 26, Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at Riverside Park as the village is lighted to begin the holiday season. Musical performances by local groups will precede his arrival and children are invited to meet with Santa from 5 – 7 p.m.
The actual lighting of the village will take place at 6 p.m. Gather up family and friends and enjoy the lights and Santa at this fun, FREE event.
LIFETIME MOVIE MAGIC
December in Helen is a magical place — which is why quite a few Christmas movies are filmed here! If you want to feel like you stepped right into a Christmas movie, a visit to Helen is a must-do.
Christmas Love Letter, a Lifetime Films movie was filmed in Alpine Helen and released in 2019. You can take in the sights from the movie while you’re in town, including a carriage ride through Downtown Helen Georgia. And another Helen-filmed treat called A Taste of Christmas debuted in 2020. Look for a few familiar faces when you watch that one (yes – us!!).
DELICIOUS EATS IN HELEN
Speaking of Christmas Love Letter, parts of it and A Taste of Christmas 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 had 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!
MORE HELEN RESTAURANTS: 15 Restaurants in Helen: Best Places To Nosh
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.
Ready for a Christmas-themed adventure? Savor a sip at Tantrum Brewing during the Southern Christmas & Beer pairing, December 9. Call for details 706-809-2888.
CHRISTKINDLMARKT TRADITIONAL GERMAN MARKET
DATES: Nov. 27-28 and Dec. 4-5, 2021
One of the most unique Christmas markets in the North Georgia area, this shopping opportunity takes place 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. November 27-28 and December 4-5, 2021 at the Helen Marketplatz in the center of town.
The Christkindlmarkt is a traditional German event that offers everything from unique Christmas gifts and decorations to an assortment of savory and sweet foods, drinks and candied treats. It’s the ideal place for stocking up on stocking stuffers and special gifts.
ALPINE MINI GOLF
If you’ve ever been to Helen, you know you have to play some Alpine Mini Golf, right? During the holiday season, you can play mini golf surrounded by lights!
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 golf 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 HARDMAN FARM
DATES: Fridays and Saturdays beginning Dec. 3 and ending Dec. 18, 2021
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 at the open house from 4-7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in December, highlighted by twinkling candlelight and live music.
Pre-registration is required.
Come see the house in period holiday decor and learn about Victorian Christmas traditions from docents dressed in their finest 1870’s garb. This open house on Friday and Saturday nights in December is highlighted by twinkling candle lights and a walk down the Unicoi Road.
At this fun event, you can purchase hot cider or hot chocolate and 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,) you’ll then take the horses back to the main building, or walk the trail through old-fashioned lantern light. (You can also bring a flashlight!)
CHRISTMAS IN THE MOUNTAINS LIGHTED PARADE
DATE: Dec. 4, 2021
While you’re spending time in Helen, make time to visit nearby Cleveland, GA to see their annual Christmas in the Mountains Lighted 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. The parade will begin at 7 p.m.
CABBAGE PATCH CHRISTMAS
Note: Dates for 2021 have not yet been released.
While you’re in Cleveland, don’t miss the chance to see Santa (select dates) at Babyland General Hospital, where the famous Cabbage Patch Kids are “born.”
The photos are very affordable, and you’ll have the chance to see the Babyland Hospital decorated with Christmas trees and festive decor!
HELEN CHRISTMAS PARADE
DATE: Dec. 11, 2021
If you miss the Lighted Parade in Cleveland (or even if you don’t!), then follow up the next weekend in Downtown Helen for another Christmas celebration. This parade takes place Dec 11, 2021 at 2 p.m. 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, Smith Creek and the 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?!
FESTIVAL OF TREES
2021 Update: Canceled in 2021.
Visit Unicoi State Park and Adventure Lodge in Helen, Ga 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.
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. We stayed at Peace in the Woods from Georgia Mountain Rentals, and we HIGHLY recommend it! We didn’t want to leave! If this one is taken, grab one of these rentals or Downtown hotel rooms:
MORE HOLIDAY FUN:
- CHRISTMAS TRAIN RIDES: 23 Spectacular Train Rides in Georgia and the Southeast
- CHRISTMAS EVENTS: Christmas in Atlanta: Your Guide To Only The Very Best Christmas Events
- CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: 27+ Sparkling Christmas Light Displays in Atlanta
- CHRISTMAS TREES: 17+ Unforgettable Christmas Tree Farms in Atlanta You’ll Adore
- ICE SKATING: Avalon Ice Skating Rink: Festive Holiday Skating in Alpharetta
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