Growing up in Atlanta, with extended family who lived far north of the city, I was blessed with so many great Georgia Christmas memories.
From riding the Pink Pig and watching the lighting of the Great Tree at Rich’s (now Macy’s) to cutting our own Christmas trees in the mountains, all of them became beloved traditions for getting my family into the holiday spirit.
As an adult, I loved seeing all the incredible Christmas lights in Georgia, including the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Callaway Gardens, and Lake Lanier Islands.
But these days I increasingly long to spend Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with deep blue skies, wide open spaces, and a genuine possibility of snow turning the scenery into a winter wonderland.
To that end, here’s our look at the best North Georgia Christmas events for 2020, including beloved mountain towns such as Blue Ridge, Blairsville, Clayton, Dahlonega, Helen, Hiawassee, and Lookout Mountain.
North Georgia Christmas Events Guide
- Christmas in Blairsville
- Christmas in Blue Ridge
- Christmas in Clayton
- Christmas in Dahlonega
- Christmas in Dalton
- Christmas in Dawsonville
- Christmas in Helen
- Christmas in Rome
- Christmas on Pettit Creek Farms (Cartersville)
- Goats On The Roof Christmas (Tiger)
- Holiday Lights at Cherokee Veterans Park (Canton)
- Lake Lanier Christmas Lights (Buford)
- Light Up the Holidays at Barnsley Resort (Adairsville)
- Mountain Country Christmas in Lights (Hiawassee)
- Rock City Christmas (Lookout Mountain)
CHRISTMAS IN BLAIRSVILLE, GA
The tiny North Georgia mountain town of Blairsville GA doesn’t get as much attention as its neighbors, Blue Ridge and Helen.
But for those who prefer not to deal with the endless traffic and crowded trails that result from an influx of tourists, therein lies a big part of Blairsville‘s charm!
Christmas in Blairsville is just as quaint and charming as you’d expect from a Blue Ridge town of less than 700 people.
From Dec 1 through 31, you can check out the Tour Of Trees at the Union County Community Center, where 40+ beautifully decorated trees and wreaths will be displayed.
Although their beloved annual Xmas event, Blairsville Christmas on the Square, has been cancelled for 2020, there are other fun options.
These include the Blairsville Holiday Stop & Shop at the Union County Civic Center on Dec 4-5, and the Holly Jolly Christmas- Breakfast with Santa (including photo opps) at the Union County Community Center on Dec 5.
CHRISTMAS IN BLUE RIDGE, GA
Like a lot of the North Georgia Christmas towns on this list, Fannin County is trying to figure out how to plan their holiday events safely in the middle of a surging pandemic.
They assured us there will be a Christmas in Blue Ridge GA this year, but details were still being fleshed out when this story was published. We remain in touch with local authorities, and will update this piece as more information comes in.
The signature Blue Ridge Christmas event, Light Up Blue Ridge, is happening, but likely on a limited scale. The action typically begins on “Blue Friday” (aka the day after Thanksgiving), with bargains for holiday shoppers, great food from local restaurants, and wandering carolers.
The following day, Santa & Mrs Claus usually arrive around 11am. After that, you can ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway’s Santa Express, which runs Fri-Sun starting Nov 27 and daily Dec 21-23. Santa & Mrs. C will be available for visits and photos in their Christmas caboose at the Depot.
And don’t miss Holidays at INOLA Blue Ridge, a living history colonial village all decked out in lights and Christmas cheer. Open Nov 27 to Jan 5, their events will include an ice skating rink, fireworks, visits with Santa & Mrs. Claus, and more!
READ MORE: The Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge, GA
CHRISTMAS IN CLAYTON, GA
But they also offer an array of great Christmas events the whole family can enjoy. First up is the Merry Market & Fundraising Jolly, held at the Rabun County Civic Center from 10am to 5pm on Friday, Nov 27 and from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, Nov 28.
The Merry Market features one-of-a-kind, locally-produced gifts such as Christmas arts and crafts, delicious baked goods, jams and preserves, honey and more.
Benefiting a local pet rescue, the Fundraising Jolly will feature a silent auction of fully decorated trees from the Annual Festival of Trees. There will also be Pet Portraits with Santa for $5 with donation of Pedigree pet food or $10 without. Reserve a slot at 770-843-8898.
Lastly, at 5pm on Dec 5, there’s the annual Clayton Christmas Parade. Hosted by the Rabun County Chamber of Commerce and City of Clayton, the parade will feature festive floats as well as an appearance by Santa himself! Call 706-782-4812 for more info.
READ MORE: The Best Things to Do in Clayton GA
CHRISTMAS IN DAHLONEGA, GA
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dahlonega is best known for its 1828 gold rush, its wealth of wineries, and a music scene (including the Bear on the Square Festival) that birthed the careers of Indigo Girl Amy Ray and country star Zac Brown.
The main Dahlonega Christmas event, Dahlonega’s Old-Fashioned Christmas, is a quaint, decidedly retro affair that makes the holidays a great time to visit the tiny town.
It begins in Downtown Dahlonega on Nov 27 with the annual lighting of the tree, with the historic square (centered around a courthouse built in 1836) festooned in festive lights and decorations.
There are Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides ($10 for adults, $5 for children) around the public square to take it all in, and Santa will be available for family photos on Fridays from 5-7pm, Saturdays from 12-3:30pm and 4-7pm, and Sundays from 1-5pm.
There will also be a Christmas Parade at 5pm on Dec 5, with floats, marching bands, costumed characters, civic organizations, and more. Best of all, the Dahlonega GA Christmas celebration lasts until January 10, so you can ring in 2021 on a fabulously festive note!
CHRISTMAS IN DALTON, GA
Located in northwest Georgia less than 30 miles south of Chattanooga, the city of Dalton is best known as the carpet capital of Georgia.
But this bustling city of 33,000+ people has a lot of other things going for it, including a small but diverse assortment of Christmas events.
The seasonal events start with a Holiday Open House from Nov 5 to Dec 8. Shops in downtown Dalton will offer extended hours, special sales, and warm holiday greetings. There will also be pictures with Santa, horse & carriage rides, and special weekend performances.
Downtown Dalton will also host its annual Tree Lighting celebration on Nov 27, and the Spirit of Christmas Parade on Dec 8.
But the town’s most unique Xmas event is the Christmas Shindig at Tunnel Hill on Nov 27 and 28. Billed as “North Georgia’s most exciting Christmas variety show,” it will feature local singers, dancers, comedians, and more showcasing their talents with festive holiday flair.
CHRISTMAS IN DAWSONVILLE, GA
Located 15 miles southwest of Dahlonega in the foothills of the North GA mountains, Dawsonville is best known for Amicalola Falls, the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus, and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.
But Christmas in downtown Dawsonville GA is nothing to shake a stick at either, with loads of different options sure to appeal to every member of the family.
The holiday festivities begin on Friday, Dec 4, with the 8th annual Jingle Market offering a chance to shop for Xmas gifts from local vendors and dine from a variety of food trucks.
Kids can pose for pictures with Santa in race cars at the Racing Museum, roast marshmallows to make S’mores over a bonfire, and check out the Dawsonville Christmas Parade after sunset.
The eventful day ends with the Lighting of the Tree at 7pm, which signals the official beginning of the Dawsonville Christmas season.
CHRISTMAS IN HELEN, GA
For a unique Georgia Christmas with a heaping dose of Bavarian flair, head to the alpine town of Helen in December!
Christmas in Helen is always a hoot, with most of the local attractions decking their halls (and windows) with holiday spirit.
The Helen GA Christmas events for 2020 will reportedly be scaled back a bit due to the need for social distancing. But according to the Alpine Helen/White County CVB, the annual Lighting of the Village is still a go for 5pm on Nov 27.
In addition to unveiling the beautiful downtown Helen Christmas lights, the event will feature the arrival of Santa & Mrs. Claus to Riverside Park, musical performances, and other merriment.
The annual Helen Christmas Parade was also still on for Dec 12 at 2 pm as of press time, with costumed characters, festive floats and, of course, Santa Claus himself spreading holiday cheer through the streets of downtown Helen.
CHRISTMAS IN ROME, GA
Located west of Cartersville in the foothills of the Appalachians, Rome is a mid-sized town of 36,000+ people situated at the confluence of three rivers.
Christmas in Rome has been transformed for 2020 due to COVID concerns, most notably by the relocation of the Dec 1 Rome Christmas Parade to the Red and Gold Parking areas of the Rome Braves Stadium.
With its theme of ”Miracle on Braves Boulevard: Saluting the Heroes of 2020,” the event will start at 6pm and feature a winter wonderland filled with festive music, floats, and fun holiday inflatables.
Visitors are encouraged to bring posters thanking 2020 heroes for their service: Prizes will be awarded to the best posters, which will be displayed in downtown Rome for the holidays. You can also decorate your car to show off your Christmas spirit as you drive the parade route.
Other events being held for Christmas in Rome include a Holiday Open House on Nov 14, and the Roam Around Rome holiday shopping extravaganza on Dec 3, 10, and 17.
READ MORE: 30 Fascinating Blue Ridge Mountains Facts
CHRISTMAS AT PETTIT CREEK FARMS (Cartersville)
Encompassing 80 acres in Cartersville GA, Pettit Creek Farms has been in the Allen family since 1945, when Raymond & Fannie Mae Allen relocated to the current location after Lake Allatoona was expanded.
Today the working farm is run by their grandchildren, with the great-grandchildren being groomed to take over.
So it’s no surprise that Christmas at Pettit Creek is a family affair, with old-fashioned hayrides, a petting zoo with live Reindeer, and more.
There’s a live Nativity scene every weekend, and good old Santa Claus drops in for photos every Thursday through Sunday.
You may want to bring some extra cash, as they have hot apple cider, cocoa, and S’mores kits for roasting on the campfire. They also have real Christmas trees for sale!
GOATS ON THE ROOF CHRISTMAS (Tiger)
If truly bizarre Georgia Christmas events are more your speed, make plans to visit Goats On The Roof, a roadside attraction on Hwy 441 S in the tiny town of Tiger, GA.
If you’ve never been there, it’s a crazy place. There are actual Goats on the roofs of multiple buildings, all connected by a sky bridge (the only thing missing is a troll!).
The Goats (who tend to prefer shade in the heat of summer) can also come down to ground level to be fed and petted by visitors, with goat chow available for purchase.
If that’s not enough interaction for you, then check out Goats On The Roof Christmas. Santa will there every weekend from Nov 9 to Dec 22, posing for photos with you AND the goats!
Santa’s hours will be Friday 2 to 5pm; Saturday 11am to 5pm, and Sunday 2pm to 5pm. For info on individual and group rates, call 706-782-2784.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT CHEROKEE VETERANS PARK (Canton)
If you like Christmas in Georgia, Americana, and military veterans, you’ll LOVE this unabashedly patriotic holiday celebration at Cherokee Veterans Park in Canton GA.
The park is home to a monument that’s dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of all the military veterans who have served our country.
Starting in late November each year, this all-American attraction offers a 2-mile drive featuring over a million twinkling Christmas lights. They include animated displays, two drive-thru tunnels, and a 1/4-mile devoted to the various branches of the US military.
Tickets are $20 per car, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to various non-profits, including CRPA Play it Forward, Papa’s Pantry, and Veterans of Cherokee County.
The attraction will be available until December 31, and will open at 6pm daily, rain or shine.
LAKE LANIER CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Back in December 2008, Mary and I fell in love and kissed for the first time at Lake Lanier Islands‘ Magical Nights of Lights. We’ve been back almost every year since then to celebrate the holidays at our special place, creating lots of great family memories.
So it was with great sadness that we learned our beloved drive-through Christmas light display has officially been retired after nearly 30 years.
Fortunately, there will be new Lake Lanier Christmas Lights on display for 2020. Now called the Lakeside Lights Spectacular, the new attraction will be a walk-through light show set to holiday music, with hot cocoa and cocktails available for purchase along the way.
There will also be carnival rides, holiday games, and socially-distanced visits with Santa. The attraction runs nightly from Nov 20 through January 5, then moves to weekend-only nights until February 21.
Lanier Islands will also offer holiday-themed accommodations at the Legacy Lodge, including a Breakfast & Santa Package, Virtual Elf Tuck-In Package, Elf PJ Story Time Package, and Complete Holiday Adventure Package. Check rates for the Legacy Lodge at Booking.com.
LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS AT BARNSLEY RESORT (Adairsville)
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Adairsville, GA, Barnsley Gardens is famous for its historic Manor House ruins, which date back to the pre-Civil War era.
Now a posh luxury resort, Barnsley annually decks its gorgeous English-style garden and ruins with a dazzling array of colorful holiday lights.
Decorating Christmas cookies, making gingerbread houses and wreaths, and telling stories around the campfire are just a few of the holiday-themed events offered at Barnsley Resort throughout the holiday season.
Unfortunately, this year the festivities are understandably limited to guests and members, so you’ll want to book a room asap to join in on all the holiday fun. Check rates for the Barnsley Resort via Booking.com.
MOUNTAIN COUNTRY CHRISTMAS IN LIGHTS (Hiawassee)
Located on the shores of Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds are best known for hosting the Georgia Mountain Fair and Georgia State Fiddlers Convention.
But on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from Nov 26 to Dec 26 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), the venue is also home to the Mountain Country Christmas In Lights.
This Southern-fried annual attraction combines a spectacular holiday light show with Christmas music (often provided by local church groups), Appalachian arts and crafts, country-style food, and of course pics with ol’ St. Nick.
New this year is “Cow Town,” which offers attendees a chance to milk a cow or help make butter, ice cream, and soap the old fashioned way, using traditional methods and tools.
Best of all, admission is just $6 dollars for adults, while kids ages 12 and under are free!
ROCK CITY CHRISTMAS (Lookout Mountain)
Now in its 26th year, the Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City is an award-winning celebration of the season straddling the Georgia-Tennessee border.
Named one of the Top 20 Events in the region by the Southeast Tourism Society, this annual attraction is arguably one of the best places to spend Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Open from Nov 20 through Jan 2, their colorful Christmas light display features 30+ holiday scenes (including the Arctic Kingdom and Magic Forest) and nearly a million LED lights, turning the rocky surroundings into a winter wonderland.
Visitors can also enjoy a variety of seasonally appropriate activities, from decorating gingerbread cookies (to-go kits available) and drinking hot cocoa, to eating Reindeer (Kettle) Corn and seeing Santa in his North Pole Workshop. Souvenir photos of Santa are available at additional cost.
NOTE: Guests must reserve an entry time in advance online. Tickets cannot be purchased upon arrival at Rock City. Leashed pets are welcome. –by Bret Love; additional research by Harrison Lewis