If you enjoy the holiday season, the German-style town of Helen is one of the best places to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Backdropped against the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find holiday activities for the whole family in Alpine Helen.
Helen is known for celebrating German tradition throughout the whole year. And the best way to celebrate Christmas in Helen, Georgia is by attending the town’s main Christmas events.
At these events, you can participate in parades and victorian holiday traditions, while also shopping for specialty gift items and enjoying delicious food.
In this article, I’ll explore a little more about these activities during everyone’s favorite time of year.
About Christmas in Helen, GA
The city of Helen is modeled after a Bavarian town and is known for celebrating traditional German events at Christmas time. Originally a logging town, Helen is now one of the most popular spots in Georgia. If you want to learn more about Helen, check out this article here.
Here are the top things to do in Helen during the Christmas holidays!
1. Annual Lighting of the Village
The Annual Lighting of the Village begins the Christmas season in Helen at end of November.
What Happens: As Christmas decorations start to go up, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus ride into town on their sleigh. They go down into Riverside park at dusk and the whole town celebrates with them.
As they ride in with the sunset, the entire town of Alpine Helen turns on their Christmas lights to celebrate their arrival!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration without music, so the local bands will come together in the park to play just before the Clauses arrive. Also, the kids can have time to meet Santa after the grand entrance!
When. The date may change each year, but it is normally around November 25th or Thanksgiving Day. Check out the city’s official website for more information.
2. Annual Helen Christmas Parade
The Annual Helen Christmas Parade takes place shortly after the town lighting. In early December, an impressive parade goes through downtown Helen.
What Happens. Unique holiday floats, military veterans, local bikers, and fire trucks all take part in the festivities. Also, Santa Claus will be there! (He and Mrs. Claus didn’t leave after the village lighting ceremony)
When. The event occurs around December 10th early in the afternoon. Check out the event website here.
3. Hardman Farm Victorian Christmas
During the Christmas season, the Hardman Farm Historic State Site transforms to show you Victorian Christmas traditions from the 1800s.
What it Is. The guide tours include:
- a display of Victorian fashion
- period holiday decor
- lights and Christmas trees
- a banjo player and live music
- marshmallow roasting
- carriage rides
When. Fridays and Saturdays in December. Check out the website here for this year’s dates.
The Hardman Farm is the site of a tremendous amount of history in the Helen, GA area year-round. It contains fascinating history about the Civil war and pioneer life.
4. Christkindlmarkt – Outdoor Traditional Christmas Market
Helen’s annual Christkindlmarkt is a unique outdoor event that is modeled on traditional German Christmas markets.
History. Christkindlmarkt is a special tradition that originated in Nuremberg, Germany in the 14th century.
What it Is. Not only do vendors set up booths to sell books and gifts, but Christkindlmarkt comes complete with traditional costumes, music, family-friendly shows, and traditional foods & drinks.
It is a festive atmosphere, especially if you get to experience snow! An example of the traditional hot drinks you’ll find is “Gluhwein,” which is a warm, spiced drink made from red wine loaded with Christmas flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, citrus, and cloves.
When. Christkindlmarkt takes place during the first two weeks of December. Check out the event website for days and details this year!
5. Christmas in the Mountains Festival & Lighted Parade
The annual Christmas in the Mountains Festival is good ole fashioned parade that’s usually hosted in downtown Cleveland. It is sometimes held in Helen, too.
What it Is. This parade takes place at night and the parade floats are more traditional. You’ll also find:
- Christmas carols and carolers
- arts and crafts for the kids
- hot cocoa and cookies, along with food and drinks
When. The event usually begins at 6 pm on December 3rd.
6. Shopping for Unique Christmas Gifts at Local Stores
Christmas shopping in Helen is another way to create holiday memories with and for your loved ones! You’ll find plenty one of a kind Christmas gifts to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year!
Some of what you’ll find include:
- artist-decorated Christmas decorations (ex. hand-painted Santas)
- hand-made toys like matryoshka dolls
- specialty gift items like Steinbach nutcrackers
We’re going to give you a small list of some hot spots to shop at where you’ll find some amazing items and goods.
Where to find Toys & Gifts in Helen, GA:
Jolly’s Toy Store – Children’s toys from around the world.
Tim’s Wooden Toys – An amazing little shop full of hand-made wooden toys such as ping-pong crossbows from a master craftsman.
The Christmas Shoppe – truly unique gifts such as Lenox teapots, snow babies, German and European ornaments, gorgeous nativity scenes, and much more!
Where to Buy Christmas Decorations in Helen, GA:
Christmas and More store – You’ll find plenty of Christmas decorations for your house here. Snowmen, Santa Clauses, Elves, The Holy Family, mini silver Christmas trees, and more.
The Glassblowing Shop – The master flame worker, Scott Warner, can make just about anything out of glass, from wedding cake toppers to dragons and swords. Candy for the eyes!
Buying Christmas Treats and Foods in Helen, GA:
Hansel & Gretal Candy Factory – You can’t miss the gingerbread house in town. All things chocolate, caramel, and colorful can be found here, and they’re always innovating with flavors.
Kopper Kettle Fudge – It’s not Christmas without rich fudge. Hansel and Gretal haven’t totally taken over the market and it’s worth seeing what the Kopper Kettle offers!
7. Have Your Own Christmas Photoshoot in Helen
There are a number of scenic spots that are decked out for Christmas! They make for incredible pictures to keep as memorabilia forever!
I can help you get started with a few suggestions.
- You can start with a picture of yourself before you actually enter Helen and have the town as a really charming backdrop.
- The Santa Clause statue and Santa’s sleigh outside of The Christmas Shoppe are prime locations for festive footage.
- Head to the pedestrian bridge on Main Street that goes across the Chattahoochee river during the evening. When the lights are on, it’s really magical!
Also, find any of the decorated Christmas trees and take pictures of yourself in front of them.
And there are also naturally beautiful spots to take pictures at. Helen is pretty well known for its waterfalls and gorgeous trails.
8. Warm Up with Hot Food and Drinks
Even if you get rain instead of snow, that doesn’t mean you don’t get cold! When the wind has numbed you down to the bone it’s time to thaw out with something hot and delicious!
There are a number of restaurants in Helen where you can take shelter and warm up. Try seasonal favorites like hot chocolate or cider. Or perhaps stop in at Bodensee for a traditional German Christmas dinner!
9. Stay for Christmas in a Castle
Since you were going to stay for part of the Christmas season, why not stay somewhere unique? The Castle Inn is modeled after a medieval English tavern. It has great views of Main Street and the Chattahoochee River downtown.
When you get back from shopping or Christmas events, you’ll be welcomed with a warm bed, complimentary coffee, and a flatscreen TV to watch Christmas movies.
In the morning, you can feel like royalty with the cheese and fruit trays that the hotel offers.
Situated in the northeast Georgia mountains, Helen is a top Christmas town. You can enjoy classic events like the annual Helen parade and lighting of the village, Christmas music, outdoor market shopping, and delicious food.