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.
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 20 best North Georgia Christmas events for 2023, 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 Happenings (Alpharetta)
- Holiday Lights at Cherokee Veterans Park (Canton)
- Holiday Lights of Hope at Hobgood Park (Woodstock GA)
- Lights of Joy (Kennesaw GA)
- Lights of Life (Marietta GA)
- Light Up the Holidays at Barnsley Resort (Adairsville)
- (Margaritaville) Lake Lanier Christmas Lights (Buford)
- Mountain Country Christmas in Lights (Hiawassee)
- Rock City Christmas (Lookout Mountain)
- World of Illumination (Marietta)
1. 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 mountain 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.
On Dec 2nd the Holiday on the Square event takes place which includes pictures with Santa at the Historic Courthouse from 2 pm to 5 pm, a festive parade starting at 6 pm, and the annual tree lighting following the parade.
Afterward, make sure to grab a bite to eat at one of Blairsville’s restaurants.
Other fun holiday events happening in Blairsville on Saturday, Dec 2, include the Holly Jolly Christmas- Breakfast with Santa (including photo ops) and a tiny train and the Union County Farmers Market’s ‘Kris Kringle Market’.
2. CHRISTMAS IN BLUE RIDGE GA
The signature Blue Ridge Christmas event, Light Up Blue Ridge, begins on “Blue Friday” (aka the day after Thanksgiving), with bargains for holiday shoppers, great food from local restaurants, and wandering carolers.
The Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association’s Holiday Art Show and Sale shows up on November 18 and runs through December 16. It is a perfect spot to finish your Holiday shopping, or just to enjoy an afternoon.
The annual Gingerbread Village at the Arts Center also opens on Blue Friday and remains open through December 11th featuring 65+ creatively decorated gingerbread houses for you to admire.
The following day, there is live entertainment, a window decorating contest, and a Christmas Parade at 5:30 pm.
Santa will also be at the gazebo for photos or you can drop off your Christmas list for him at Santa’s mailbox and receive a hand-written reply days later.
After that, you can ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway’s Holiday Express, which runs Nov 24-Dec 24.
READ MORE: The Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge, GA
3. CHRISTMAS IN CLAYTON GA
But they also offer an array of great Christmas events in Clayton GA the whole family can enjoy.
Starting off the holiday festivities is the Holiday Arts and Crafts Extravaganza, which will be held at the Rabun County Civic Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on November 24th and 25th.
The shopping extravaganza 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 charity, the event will also feature a silent auction of fully decorated trees from the Annual Festival of Trees.
Lastly, at 6 p.m. on December 2nd, there’s the annual Rabun County Christmas Parade, which features festive floats and even Santa himself!
4. CHRISTMAS IN DAHLONEGA, GA
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dahlonega GA is best known for its 1828 gold rush, its wealth of wineries, restaurants, 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 GA 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 November 24th with the annual tree lighting, with the historic town square (centered around a courthouse built in 1836) festooned in festive lights and decorations.
There are Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides around the public square to take it all in, and Santa will be available for family photos Nov 24-Dec 17 on Fridays from 3-6 p.m., Saturdays from 12-6 p.m., and Sundays from 1-5 p.m.
There will also be a Christmas Parade at 11 a.m. on Dec 9th, with floats, marching bands, costumed characters, civic organizations, and more.
Best of all, the Dahlonega GA Christmas celebration will last until December 31st, so you can ring in 2024 on a fabulously festive note!
READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Dahlonega GA
5. 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.
Downtown Dalton will host its annual Christmas Tree Lighting celebration on Nov 24, and the Spirit of Christmas Parade on Dec 14.
The Creative Arts Guild will be hosting their Mistletoe Festival on December 2, where you can find local artists selling handmade goods such as jewelry and decor. Perfect for doing some Christmas shopping!
But the town’s most unique Xmas event is the Christmas Shindig at Tunnel Hill. 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.
6. CHRISTMAS IN DAWSONVILLE, GA
Located 15 miles southwest of Dahlonega GA 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 Saturday, Nov 18, with the 10th 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 starting at 4 p.m.
The eventful day ends with the Lighting of the Tree at dusk, which signals the official beginning of the Dawsonville Christmas season.
7. CHRISTMAS IN HELEN, GA
For a unique Georgia Christmas with a heaping dose of Bavarian flair, head to the alpine town of Helen GA in December!
Christmas in Helen GA is always a hoot, with most of the local attractions decking their halls (and windows) with holiday spirit.
The joyous festivities kick off with the Lighting of the Village on November 24 from 5 pm to 7 pm. 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 Christkindl Traditional German Market will be open on Nov 25-26 and Dec 3-4 where you can shop for unique Christmas gifts and decorations as well as a variety of sweet treats.
The annual Helen Christmas Parade will take place on Dec 9 at 2 p.m., with costumed characters, festive floats, and, of course, Santa Claus himself spreading holiday cheer through the streets of downtown Helen.
8. CHRISTMAS IN ROME, GA
Located west of Cartersville in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Rome is a mid-sized town of 36,000+ people situated at the confluence of three rivers.
The annual Rome Christmas Parade will take place this year on November 28 and will be on Broad Street at 1st Avenue and end at 6th Avenue in front of the City Hall.
The event will start at 6:30 p.m. and feature a winter wonderland filled with festive music, floats, and fun holiday inflatables.
Another event being held for Christmas in Rome is the Winter Art Market at the Rome Civic Center on December 2 and 3.
9. CHRISTMAS AT PETTIT CREEK FARMS (Cartersville)
337 Cassville Road, Cartersville GA
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.
The celebration runs from Nov 23 until Dec 30, and good old Santa Claus drops in for photos Thursday through Sunday of every week.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Christmas Tree Farms in Virginia
10. GOATS ON THE ROOF CHRISTMAS (Tiger)
3026 Highway 441 S, Tiger GA
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 be there from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. TBD, posing for photos with you!
Unfortunately, Santa will not have his baby goat this year. All photos are self-take and free.
11. HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS (Alpharetta)
The city of Alpharetta is packed with a variety of events during the holiday season that are perfect for enjoying with friends and family members of all ages.
Kicking off the holiday fun, there will be 3 tree lightings, starting on Nov 17. On Nov 19 the Lighting of the Avalon will also include special holiday performances and entertainment, fun activities, the official opening of the ice-skating rink, and even a magical visit from Santa.
Alpharetta’s first Holiday Hop and Shop event on Dec 2 will include four holiday art markets which will be set up across town. They will have a shuttle running between the markets for ease of transit. The shuttles will also stop at the Alpharetta Welcome Center which will be hosting a free photo with Santa event on the 2nd from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
12. HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT CHEROKEE VETERANS PARK (Canton)
7345 Cumming Highway, Canton GA
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 an almost 2-mile drive featuring over 2 million twinkling Christmas lights. They include animated displays, a drive-thru tunnel, 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.
Holiday Lights will be available from Nov 18th until Dec 31st, and it will be open daily no matter the weather.
13. HOLIDAY LIGHTS OF HOPE AT HOBGOOD PARK (Woodstock)
6688 Bells Ferry Road, Woodstock GA
Holiday Lights of Hope is a giant walk-through Christmas light attraction in Hobgood Park in Woodstock. Now in its 12th year, the attraction features over two million dazzling lights, including both traditional and animated displays!
There will be photo opportunities with Santa and a mile-long Christmas maze!
If you want to get some Christmas shopping done, you can meander through Santa Village and enjoy holiday tunes from Christmas carolers.
Tickets for the event are only $10, with children 12 and under getting in free, and the money will benefit the Anna Crawford Children’s Center. (The event is closed on December 24th-25th)
14. LIGHTS OF JOY (Kennesaw)
1510 Ben King Road NW, Kennesaw GA
Lights of Joy is known as the biggest residential Christmas light display in Georgia, featuring over 230 Christmas trees that are filled with lights.
Beginning Nov 26, several Christmastime figures will decorate the area and the lights can even be synchronized with 102.1 FM alongside nine different musical trees. This gives visitors an amazing dancing light display!
Due to this being a walk-through Christmas light display, there is parking available at the Futures Church across the street.
It is a free holiday event with a possible minimal fee for parking. Guests are asked to leave their pets at home.
15. LIGHTS OF LIFE (Marietta)
1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta GA
Lights of Life at Life University is one of the oldest holiday events in Atlanta, drawing in huge crowds each year.
Located on Marietta’s college campus, this 1.5-mile drive features a million LED lights and a 65-foot-tall Santa and sleigh display that’s the tallest in all of the Southeast!
They change up the light display each year so visitors will see something new no matter how many times they see it. This year’s light display will run from Nov 23 to Dec 31.
Buses are $20 and all trucks and cars are only $10. They also have a petting zoo, concession stand, Christmas train rides, and a chance to get photos with Santa!
16. LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS AT BARNSLEY RESORT (Adairsville)
597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville GA
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 mountain 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.
There will also be exciting visits with Santa, and opportunities to take photographs with the jolly big man on November 25.
All this holiday fun starts on Nov 22nd.
17. MARGARITAVILLE’S LAKESIDE LIGHT SPECTACULAR
7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford GA
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 Christmas 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 had officially been retired after nearly 30 years.
Fortunately, it was replaced with a new light display. Now called the Lakeside Lights Spectacular, the attraction is a walk-through light show set to holiday music, with hot cocoa and cocktails available for purchase along the way.
These Christmas lights and displays range from traditional holiday scenes to Margaritaville-themed arrangements and will run nightly from Nov 22 to Jan 15. There will even be carnival rides and holiday games!
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.
18. MOUNTAIN COUNTRY CHRISTMAS IN LIGHTS (Hiawassee)
1311 Music Hall Road, Hiawassee GA
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 23 – Dec 23 (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), country-style food, and of course pics with ol’ St. Nick.
They expand their arts and crafts booths for better shopping opportunities during this time as well.
Returning 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 $8 dollars for adults, while kids ages 12 and under are free!
19. ROCK CITY CHRISTMAS (Lookout Mountain)
1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain GA
Now in its 29th 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 17th through Jan 6 (closed Dec 24), their Christmas light display features 7 enchanted realms and a million LED lights, turning the rocky surroundings into a beautiful winter wonderland.
There’s no shortage of dazzling scenery when it comes to walking through the Grand Corridor in Yule Town or exploring the beauty of the Magic Forest.
Visitors can also enjoy a variety of seasonally appropriate activities, like decorating gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, eating holiday-themed fudge, and watching Santa while he is in his North Pole Workshop.
Souvenir photos of Santa are available at an additional cost.
NOTE: Guests must reserve an entry time in advance online. Tickets cannot be purchased upon arrival at Rock City.
20. WORLD OF ILLUMINATION (Marietta)
250 Cobb Pkwy N, Marietta GA
Coming back for another year of extravagant Christmas lights on November 15, World of Illumination is the producer of the largest drive-thru light show in the world.
This year’s theme of Enchanted Safari will be filled with hundreds of animated animal displays and millions of colorful lights.
There will also be a 500-foot-long tunnel of tentacles, sharks, and jellyfish, outfitted with LED lights!
The entire display takes 25-30 minutes to drive through and runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. Tickets start at $40 per car, making it a great option for your next holiday outing.
–by Bret Love; additional reporting by Christina Maggitas & Samantha Dickens.