8 Helen, Georgia, Holiday Traditions We Love

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

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. Helen describes itself as having "the charm of Bavaria, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains."

In 1969, the small mountain community decided it needed a facelift. An artist stationed in Germany sketched a more European façade for the town, which local carpenters and businesses adopted. Nearly 50 years later, this small mountain town—which sees millions of visitors yearly—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) to the annual downtown parade. Here are a few fun Christmas traditions that will put a trip to Helen, Georgia, on our holiday wish list.

helen georgia Christmas tree
Hint: It has something to do with the reason Santa comes on December 24. Alpine Helen-White County Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Lighting of the Village

Kick things off with The Lighting of the Village. In late November, hear performances from local musical groups as Santa and Mrs. Claus light up the town center. The start of the holiday season invites children (and adults) to meet the Clauses.

Hardman Farm Historic State Site
Hardman Farm Historic State Site. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tour the Hardman Farm Historic State Site

Switch gears a bit and discover more about a Victorian Christmas. The Hardman Farm Historic State Site conducts tours Friday and Saturday nights beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, where you can see the historic home dressed in period holiday decor and learn about Victorian holiday traditions. The 19th-century Italianate mansion is a favorite Georgian landmark.

Middleburg Hunt Christmas Parade hunting dogs
Robbie Caponetto

Christmas in the Mountains Festival & Lighted Parade

Head to the equally charming town next door for the Christmas in the Mountains Festival & Lighted Parade in Cleveland, Georgia. Santa, his elves, and plenty of other characters appear in this glowing affair. Enjoy a day filled with Christmas corals, hot cocoa, activities, food booths, and more.

handmade ornaments for sale
Laura Battiato / Getty Images

The Christkindlmarkt

Held on the first two weekends after Thanksgiving, the Christkindlmarkt is a traditional German event with booths where visitors can shop for gifts, decorations, and sweet treats. Stroll through vendor booths, enjoying the smells of roasted chestnuts, almonds, and baked goods. The tradition continues with handmade crafts, performances, and additional events.

Helen, Georgia
John Greim/Getty Images

Annual Christmas Parade

See Santa during the Annual Christmas Parade as he travels through the town from downtown Helen to the Festhalle on Edelweiss Street. A bonfire with s'mores follows the parade. Music, dancing, and treats fill the day. This Christmas event, including the Lantern Parade, has unique traditions, including German Christmas characters and floats.

Santa's List
Getty Images / Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Breakfast with Santa

Sit down to breakfast with jolly St. Nick. Join for a festive morning event held in Unicoi State Park Lodge. Delight in the magic of this yearly event.

Christmas Shoppers
Mario Tama / Staff / Getty Images

Visit The Christmas Shoppe

There's no better place to shop for Christmas decor than The Christmas Shoppe in Helen, Georgia. Browse the selection of Jim Shore figures and a collection of German and European-made ornaments. Find the perfect souvenir or gift, including nutcrackers, Russian dolls, or a snow globe.

alpine coaster
alpine coaster. Courtesy of Boris23 / Wikimedia Commons

Ride the Georgia Mountain Coaster

Zip through the mountains as if you were riding on Santa's sleigh. This unique alpine mountain coaster. The Georgia Mountain Coaster is open daily, weather permitting.

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