Five Helen, GA Holiday Traditions We Love

This tiny Bavarian town in the heart of Georgia is rich with Christmas charm.

Katherine Owen
Helen, GA at Christmas
David Greear

Trade in Appalachia for the Alps this Christmas in Helen, Georgia, a charming small town known for its scenic natural surroundings, vineyards in the foothills, and alpine aesthetic. As they describe it themselves, “It’s the charm of Bavaria, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.” Back in 1969, the small mountain community decided it needed a facelift, and an artist stationed in Germany sketched up a more European façade for the town, which local carpenters and businesses adopted. Nearly 50 years later, this small mountain town—that sees 2 million visitors a year—still proudly wears its German influence. Which, as you can imagine, is impossibly charming during the holidays. Once Helen’s biggest celebration, Oktoberfest, is over, it’s on to more than a month of Christmas traditions. Think everything from a traditional Christkindlmarkt (a holiday market of sorts) to the annual downtown parade. Here, a few fun Christmas traditions on our holiday wish list this year:

1. Kick things off with The Lighting of the Village. On Friday, November 25, hear performances from local musical groups as Santa and Mrs. Claus light up the town center.

2. Switch gears a bit and see what a very Victorian Christmas is like. The Hardman Farm Historic State Site puts on tours Friday and Saturday nights beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, where you can see the historic home dressed in period holiday décor and learn about Victorian holiday traditions.  December 1-18.

3. Head to the equally charming town next door the weekend of December 3 for the Christmas in the Mountains Festival & Lighted Parade in Cleveland. Santa, his elves, and plenty of other characters make an appearance in this glowing affair.

4. The Christkindlmarkt. Held on the first two weekends of December, the traditional German event has booths where visitors can shop for gifts, decorations, and sweet treats.

5. The Annual Christmas Parade. See Santa swing through town as he makes his way from downtown Helen to the Festhalle on Edelweiss St.—what could be more enchanting? Plus, the parade is followed by a bonfire and s’mores. December 10.