The 10 Best Christmas Towns in Georgia to Visit

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While there truly is no place like home for the holidays, there’s also plenty of time between Thanksgiving and December 24 to celebrate the season in one of the many festive Christmas towns in Georgia.

At this time of year, many of our favorite North Georgia towns get all dressed up in their holiday best, adorning their streets with countless Christmas lights and hosting loads of Christmas events.   

The palpable holiday cheer mixed with the down-home Southern charm these towns in Georgia are known for is sure to have you feeling holly jolly in no time.

Whether you’re visiting one of the North Georgia Christmas Tree Farms to cut your own tree, taking a road trip to the region’s best Christmas light displays, or simply looking for new places to celebrate the season, these mountain towns offer special memories for everyone to enjoy.

Read on for our guide to the 10 Best Christmas Towns in Georgia, including info about what makes each place so endearing and the holiday events you can look forward to when you visit!

READ MORE: The Best North Georgia Christmas Events for 2021

Best Christmas Towns in Georgia Guide

  1. Helen GA 
  2. Dahlonega GA 
  3. Blue Ridge GA 
  4. Ellijay GA 
  5. Hiawassee GA 
  6. Blairsville GA 
  7. Cleveland GA 
  8. Dawsonville GA 
  9. Dalton GA 
  10. Clayton GA

 

Best Christmas Towns in Georgia -Christmas Lights at the Gazebo in Unicoi Hill Park, Helen GA
The Gazebo in Unicoi Hill Park in Helen GA, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

1. Helen GA Christmas

If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas experience, a trip to Alpine Helen GA is simply a must.

The Bavarian-influenced town is unique at any time of year, with its quirky restaurants, shops, attractions, and rental cabins.

But in December, when the town is draped in twinkling lights and glowing with holiday cheer, it becomes an especially whimsical winter wonderland.

Celebrations kick off with the annual Lighting of the Village ceremony the day after Thanksgiving. This is where the downtown Helen Christmas lights are unveiled, and Santa and Mrs. Claus make their debut in Riverside Park.

The Christkindl Traditional German Market also opens that weekend, and the annual Helen Christmas Parade takes over the streets of downtown in early December, offering a jubilant display of costumed characters and festive floats led by Jolly Old St. Nick himself!

READ MORE: 10 Fun, Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Helen GA

Best Christmas Towns in GA - Christmas in Dahlonega GA
Christmas in Dahlonega GA, photo by UGArdener licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

2. Dahlonega GA Christmas

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Dahlonega GA offers exceptional views and lots of things to do, including several great wineries, a network of hiking trails, a vibrant music scene, delicious restaurants, and the historic town square. 

The town is best known as the site of Georgia’s 1828 gold rush. But it’s also one of the best small towns in Georgia to visit for Christmas, largely due to the month-long “Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas” event. 

The weekends are filled with holiday activities, including carolers in the square, seasonal shopping, live street performances, and horse-drawn carriage rides that commence after the annual lighting of the tree. 

There’s also an annual Christmas Parade filled with floats, characters, marching bands, and more, guaranteeing to give you that special hometown holiday feeling.

The Christmas celebrations spill over into January, so it’s also a great town to visit to ring in the new year!

READ MORE: The Best Christmas Lights in Atlanta and North Georgia

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Holiday Lights , part of Christmas in Blue Ridge GA
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Holiday Lights, photo courtesy Explore Georgia

3. Blue Ridge GA Christmas

Founded in 1886 with the arrival of the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad, Blue Ridge GA has grown to be one of Georgia’s most beloved mountain destinations.

Today, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway’s Holiday Express takes visitors on a magical one-hour journey, during which you can listen to holiday music and a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” while enjoying breathtaking mountain scenery and sipping delicious hot cocoa.

Blue Ridge offers a number of other festivities during the holidays, starting with their signature event, Light Up Blue Ridge, which begins on “Blue Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving). 

Along with enjoying the many great Blue Ridge restaurants, carolers, and holiday bargains, you can also head to the Gingerbread Village at the Arts Center to view intricately decorated gingerbread houses.

If you spend the night at one of the many Blue Ridge GA cabin rentals, you can enjoy more merriment the next day. It includes live entertainment, a window decorating contest, photos with Santa, and a Christmas Parade.

While other local holiday events vary from year to year, Christmas in Blue Ridge GA never disappoints! 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge, GA

Downtown Ellijay
Downtown Ellijay at Christmas, photo via Facebook @downtownellijay

4. Ellijay GA Christmas

Recognized as the “Apple Capital of Georgia,” the mountain town of Ellijay is famous for its apple orchards and annual festivals, including the Georgia Apple Festival, Taste of Ellijay, and the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival.

While apple picking may be the main activity when Georgia’s fall colors begin to pop, December brings a whole basket full of holiday activities for visitors and locals alike to enjoy.

Quaint downtown Ellijay’s antique shops, North Georgia Wineries, and restaurants are all adorned in twinkling Christmas lights that accent the festively decorated windows, which can be admired as you stroll through town.

This peaceful small-town feeling is juxtaposed by the adventure-filled hiking trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest nearby, which are particularly beautiful if you catch them after a light snow. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Ellijay GA & Gilmer County

Mountain Country Chrismtas in Lights
Photo courtesy of Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

5. Hiawassee GA Christmas

Located right on the North Carolina border, Hiawassee GA is filled with breathtakingly beautiful scenery that manages to become even more magical around the holidays.

Hiawassee is home to over 100 miles of Lake Chatuge shoreline and the surrounding mountain vistas, as well as popular tourist hotpspots like High Shoals Falls, Brasstown Bald, and Hamilton Gardens.

While these attractions alone are worth taking a road trip for, the star of the show during Christmas in Hiawassee is the annual Mountain Country Christmas in Lights event.

Drawing thousands of visitors to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds each year, the attraction combines a spectacular Christmas light display, Appalachian crafts, mouthwatering festival food, and live music.

Santa Claus himself also joins in on the celebration to pose for photos with kids and families.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Hiawassee GA & Young Harris GA

Christmas in Blairsville GA- Christmas on the Square
Christmas in the Blairsville Square

6. Blairsville GA Christmas

At just over one square mile in size, with a population of less than 700 people, Blairsville GA’s charm lies in its authentic small-town feeling. But it seems just a little sweeter when mixed with some holiday cheer. 

Starting off the festivities in early December, the Holiday On The Square event takes place in downtown Blairsville and features pictures with Santa, a parade, and the town’s annual tree lighting.

Throughout the month you can meander through 40+ beautifully decorated Christmas trees at the Union County Community Center, and enjoy events like the Blairsville Holiday Stop & Shop and Breakfast with Santa.

Just outside of town (10 miles south, to be exact) is the beloved Vogel State Park which hosts their annual tree lighting event each year as well.

There you can watch as the tree is lit and enjoy live music, hayrides, and other festive seasonal activities.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Blairsville GA & Union County

Christmas at Babyland General in Cleveland GA
Cabbage Patch Christmas at Babyland General, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Cleveland GA Christmas

While often overlooked because it’s so close to the ever-popular Alpine Helen, Cleveland GA’s Christmas celebrations rank with some of the best in the state, drawing in crowds with infectious yuletide spirit.

The season kicks off with the Christmas In The Mountains Celebration & Lighted Parade, which is one of the biggest holiday events in White County.

There’s also a Holiday Market on the Cleveland Courthouse Square, the Merry Merchants Open House, and a Community Christmas tree lighting in Freedom Park. The night comes to a euphoric close with the annual Christmas parade in downtown Cleveland.

The North Georgia Wildlife & Safari Park in Cleveland also hosts its own holiday celebration, which is filled with delightful Christmas music, hot cocoa, and a live Nativity featuring the park’s animals.

Special Starry Night Tours are also available, allowing you to take a walk through the zoo under the stars and enjoy the season alongside family, friends, and some incredible animals!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Waterfalls Near Helen GA

Santa & Mrs Clause arrive for Christmas in Dawsonville GA
Santa & Mrs Clause arrive for Christmas in Dawsonville

8. Dawsonville GA Christmas

Whether you’re tasting 150-year-old recipes at the Moonshine Distillery, hiking to Amicalola Falls State Park’s 729-foot waterfall, or making a pit stop at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, Dawsonville GA has a lot to offer.

Each season in Dawsonville offers its own unique set of activities. There’s an array of Georgia wildflowers in the spring, exploring art galleries in the summer, and leaf-peeping in the fall.

But enjoying a good old fashioned small-town Christmas in the winter is our favorite. The festivities start in early December with the Jingle Market, where you can buy gifts from local vendors and enjoy local food trucks.

Before the annual Dawsonville Christmas Parade later in the evening, kids can pose for pictures with Santa in race cars at the Racing Museum, or roast marshmallows over a bonfire.

Closing out the eventful night is the annual Lighting of the Tree at dusk, which marks the official beginning of Christmas in Dawsonville.

READ MORE: The 15 Best North Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

Dalton Christmas Parade
Dalton Christmas Parade, photo via VisitDaltonGA.com

9. Dalton GA Christmas

Located in the northwest corner of Georgia, between Atlanta and Chattanooga, the city of Dalton offers a splendid mixture of traditional and modern flair.

With a population of 33,000+, Dalton offers an abundance of activities year-round. They include outdoor adventures at the Johns Mountain WMA and along the Conasauga River, exploring the arts and culture scene, and enjoying a meal at one of the town’s many critically acclaimed restaurants.

But Christmas in Dalton is noteworthy as well. The town’s festive events start with a Holiday Open House, wherein shops downtown offer extended hours and special sales.

There are also pictures with Santa, carriage rides, and special live performances on the weekend.

Downtown Dalton is where you can see the annual Christmas Tree Lighting celebration and, soon after that, the Spirit of Christmas Parade.

However, Dalton’s most special holiday event is the Christmas Shindig at Tunnel Hill, an annual variety show that features local dancers, singers, comedians, and more.

READ MORE: 101+ Things to Do in North Georgia

Santa at Rabun County Chamber of Commerce & City of Clayton Christmas Parade
Rabun County/City of Clayton Christmas Parade

10. Clayton GA Christmas

If you’re a nature lover, Clayton GA (the largest town in Rabun County) is the place to be.

Clayton is home to 4 state parks, 4 lakes, several of the tallest North Georgia mountains, and 17 of the most beautiful North Georgia waterfalls (including Panther Falls, Angel Falls and Minnehaha Falls). 

Outdoor attractions may be the town’s biggest claim to fame, but Christmas in Clayton GA is quite a show. There are plenty of Christmas lights sprinkled throughout the town, plus an array of events the whole family can enjoy.

It starts with the Holiday Arts & Crafts Shopping Extravaganza at the Rabun County Civic Center, where you can shop for one-of-a-kind locally made gifts, delicious baked goodies, and more.

There’s also a silent auction of decorated trees from the Annual Festival of Trees, which benefits a local charity.

And you won’t want to miss the annual Clayton Christmas Parade, which features festively decorated floats and an appearance by Jolly Ol’ St. Nick himself! –by Christina Maggitas; lead photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Growing up in rural south Georgia, Christina Maggitas developed a love for nature at a young age and spent the majority of her formative years outdoors. Since first visiting the Great Smokey Mountains with her family as a child, she has always admired the beauty of the Blue Ridge region and spends as much time as she can hiking north Georgia. She has a passion for writing and storytelling with the hopes of inspiring others to enjoy the great outdoors. Currently, Christina is a senior at Kennesaw State University where she is studying Journalism and Emerging Media.