10 Ways to Celebrate Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega GA

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[Updated on November 20, 2023] Widely regarded as one of the best places in the North Georgia mountains to live, Dahlonega GA is one of those old-timey small towns that visitors often compare to Mayberry.

It originally grew out of the gold mining boom of the early 19th century, when the Georgia gold rush brought thousands of prospectors to Dahlonega and nearby Helen

Nearly 200 years later, the town of Dahlonega is best known for its fantastic wineries and restaurants, its music scene (Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray and country star Zac Brown lived there), and its numerous festivals and historic sites

Christmas in Dahlonega, Georgia is our favorite time, when the entire downtown area is decorated with Christmas lights and Christmas trees.

The shops on the Historic Square get into the festive spirit, with holiday cheer aplenty. 

The Old Fashioned Dahlonega GA Christmas recently earned accolades from Southern Living, which referred to it as a “perfect Christmas Town” that might just steal your heart.  

Read on for our in-depth guide to the Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega GA, including info on all the best holiday events, activities, and attractions.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Towns in Georgia to Visit

Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega GA Guide

  1. Dahlonega Arts Alliance Christmas Market 
  2. Dahlonega Old Fashioned Christmas Parade
  3. Dahlonega Festival of Trees
  4. Get a Free Photo With Santa
  5. See a Show at the Historic Holly Theatre
  6. Send a Letter to Santa
  7. Shopping at Cranberry Corners
  8. Sweet Treats at the Fudge Factory
  9. Take a Carriage Ride on the Dahlonega Square
  10. Watch the Lighting of the Square

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Dahlonega GA & Lumpkin County

Dahlonega Arts Alliance Christmas Market in Dahlonega GA
Dahlonega Arts Alliance Christmas Market

1. Dahlonega Arts Alliance Christmas Art Market 

Hancock Park, North Park St at Warwick St, Dahlonega GA • [email protected]

Official Website

The Dahlonega Arts Alliance is the premier organization for the arts (and artists) in Dahlonega and Lumpkin County, and hosts numerous seasonal activities over the course of the year. 

The annual Christmas Art Market is arguably among their most eagerly anticipated Dahlonega events, showcasing original arts and crafts from local artists in Hancock Park. 

This is a great chance to do some Christmas shopping, with vendors offering everything from paintings and photography to jewelry, toys, and folky Christmas decorations.

While not technically part of the Christmas Art Market, there is a DAA Gallery Open Holiday Open House on Friday, Nov 24th from 4PM-8PM at Canvas & Cork Gallery and Wine Tasting Room with live artist demos.

The official Christmas Art Market is held on Nov 25, from 10AM to 5PM in downtown Dahlonega in Hancock Park featuring original local art and handmade crafts.

With many of the best Downtown Dahlonega restaurants just a few blocks away, this is a great way to spend a day.

READ MORE: The Best North Georgia Christmas Events

Santa Claus at the Dahlonega Christmas Parade
photo courtesy Dahlonega Downtown Business Association

2. Dahlonega Old Fashioned Christmas Parade

Downtown Dahlonega Historic District • (706) 864-3711

Official Website

Organized by the Dahlonega Downtown Business Association’s Christmas committee, the annual Dahlonega Christmas Old Fashioned Parade ranks among the town’s most beloved Christmas events

The 2023 Dahlonega Christmas parade hits the streets of the Historic District on Dec 9th starting at 11AM.

There will be festive floats, dancing, music, marchers passing out candy for kids, and a special appearance by Santa!

Prizes are awarded for First Place Float, Car/Truck, and Walkers, as well as one Grand Prize (which St. Peter’s Lutheran Church took home in 2021). 

Note that roads leading into the heart of Downtown Dahlonega will begin being shut down along the Christmas parade route a half-hour before start of parade.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in Atlanta (2022)

Festival of Trees at Hancock Park- Dahlonega Old Fashioned Christmas
Festival of Trees at Hancock Park

3. Dahlonega Festival of Trees

Hancock Park, North Park St at Warwick St, Dahlonega GA • [email protected]

Official Website

Christmas trees are arguably among the most beloved symbols of Christmas, and decorating them is one of our favorite holiday traditions. 

The Dahlonega Festival of Trees isn’t nearly as large as ones we’ve seen in bigger Blue Ridge Mountain towns such as Asheville and Roanoke

But what the Hancock Park display (which runs from December 2 through the end of the year) lacks in size, it more than makes up for in festive holiday Christmas spirit

Each of the colorful Christmas trees is sponsored by local businesses and non-profit organizations, and decorated to the nines with unique (and sometimes wild) themes. 

With the park located just a few blocks from the Dahlonega Square, it makes a great place for a romantic stroll after dinner at one of the nearby restaurants

READ MORE: North Georgia Christmas Tree Farms Where You Can Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Photos with Santa during Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega Georgia
Santa Selfie during Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega

4. Get a Free Photo With Santa

Dahlonega Vistors Center, 13 South Park Street, Dahlonega GA • (706) 864-3711

Official Website

I’ve been a huge Santa fan all my life. And my excitement at seeing the jolly old elf in person hasn’t waned a bit even now, when I’m in my 50s. 

So when we saw Santa and his sleigh outside the Visitors Center during Christmas in Dahlonega last year, we couldn’t wait to snag a selfie!

It was a warm, sunny day in the North Georgia mountains, and the big man looked hip in his reflective shades, smiling broadly as he chatted with the wide-eyed kids. 

The best part is that posing for photos with the Dahlonega Santa is 100% free, and his engaging elf assistant is happy to snap a few shots for families that want to pose together.

Santa will be available in front of the Christmas tree on the Dahlonega Square from Nov 24 to Dec 17, on Fridays from 3-6PM, Saturdays from noon-6PM, and Sundays from 1-5PM.

READ MORE: 15 Fun, Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Helen GA

Historic Holly Theater in Dahlonega GA
Historic Holly Theatre

5. See a Show at the Historic Holly Theatre

69 W Main St, Dahlonega GA • (706) 530-5162

Official Website

There have been several recent Christmas movies filmed in Dahlonega (including Hallmark’s Christmas in the Smokies and Christmas in Homestead). 

But Hollywood’s love for the charming mountain town dates back to 1915, when The Plunder was filmed in one of the area’s abandoned gold mines. Nearly a half-dozen films were shot in Dahlonega during the silent movie era.

Randall Holly Brannon opened his first movie theater in the Price Building back in 1939. Originally known as the Dahlonega Theater, it was temporarily closed in 1943 due to a fire next door. 

Four years later, Brannon got permission to build a new theater, now known as the Holly Theatre, with a gorgeous  Georgia Marble facade and seating for 500 people.

The theatre closed in 1979, and the building was used as a church for many years. Eventually community members came together and restored the historic site to its former glory, using it for musicals, plays, children’s theatre, live music concerts (mostly tribute bands).

Their 2023 holiday slate includes “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Nov 25 and “Elf the Musical” from Dec 1 to 17. Check their website for tickets and showtimes.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in NC (2022)

Letters to Santa Mailbox in Dahlonega GA Christmas
Letters to Santa Mailbox in Dahlonega Square

6. Send a Letter to Santa

Dahlonega Vistors Center, 13 South Park Street, Dahlonega GA • (706) 864-3711

Official Website

With Santa hanging out in front of the Visitors Center 3 days a week from Nov 25 to Dec 18, there are lots of opportunities for kids to get some face time to share their Christmas wish list. 

But for those who can’t make it on weekends, are too shy to ask, or just want to make REALLY sure St. Nick doesn’t forget their requests, there’s also a “Letters for Santa” mailbox right next to the Visitors Center. 

Writing a letter to Santa is one of those timeless children’s Christmas traditions that never goes out of style. 

The Dahlonega Visitors Center makes it easy by offering blank letters at the counter.

So all you have to do is fill it out, drop it in the bright red mailbox next to the huge Downtown Dahlonega Christmas tree, and they’ll ship it right to the North Pole for you!

READ MORE: The Best Christmas Lights in Atlanta and North Georgia for 2022

Christmas at Cranberry Corners in Dahlonega GA
Christmas at Cranberry Corners

7. Shopping at Cranberry Corners

44 N Park St, Dahlonega GA • (706) 864-6577

Official Website

If you’re looking to do some Christmas shopping in Dahlonega GA, the Historic Square is a great place to start. 

From the Dahlonega General Store and The Pig & the Poppy Gift Shop to numerous antique and boutique stores, you’ll find an intriguing array of Downtown Dahlonega shops within a short walking distance.

But if decorating your home for the holidays is one of your favorite annual Christmas traditions, you may want to make a beeline for Cranberry Corners, the cutest little Christmas store in town. 

Opened in 1995, the Southern Living-approved gift shop boasts an eclectic array of hand-carved Santas, Christmas ornaments, and vintage holiday decor all year round.

But of course they also offer great gift ideas for everyone on your Christmas list, from women’s clothing and accessories to gourmet food items, handmade soaps, garden decor, and more. 

READ MORE: 8 Great Wineries in Dahlonega GA

Christmas at the Fudge Factory in Dahlonega GA
Christmas at the Fudge Factory

8. Sweet Treats at the Fudge Factory

8 N Park St, Dahlonega GA • (706) 864-3988

Official Website

From the old-fashioned Kilwins chain to the locally-owned Paul Thomas Chocolates & Gifts, the Dahlonega Square has no shortage of shopping options for those seeking sweet treats

But the Fudge Factory in Dahlonega is the oldest confectioner in the area. Opened in 1982, the shop specializes in hand-dipped chocolates and more than 15 varieties of fudge.

They really go all out with “decking the halls” at during Christmas time, decorating inside and out with Christmas trees, wreaths, stockings, garlands, ornaments, and more. 

It’s one of our favorite stores in Dahlonega for picking up sweet stocking stuffers.

Our favorites range from gourmet chocolate peanut butter cups, buckeyes, and divinity to “the Dahlonega Nugget,” a local favorite featuring pecans covered in homemade caramel and dipped in chocolate.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Towns in North Carolina

Christmas in Dahlonega GA- Downtown Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
Downtown Dahlonega Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

9. Take a Carriage Ride on the Dahlonega Square

 Historic Dahlonega Square • (706) 867-9395

Official Website

Owned by the same family that owns Forrest Hills Resort, Dahlonega Carriage and Horse rides is one of the best places to go for horseback riding in Georgia

They offer everything from guided horseback rides and hayrides on their 140-acre property to private events such as wedding carriages and western-style Chuck Wagon dinners. 

But their most popular offering is horse drawn carriage rides in and around the heart of town. 

It’s a charming experience straight out of a fairytale, but never more magical than during the Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega, Georgia.

The lights on the Cinderella-style carriage, the Christmas lights on the trees and buildings, and the echoing clip-clop of the horses’ hooves on the pavement makes this a old time holiday experience you won’t soon forget!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Dahlonega GA

Old Fashioned Christmas in Downtown Dahlonega GA
Lighting of the Square in Dahlonega

10. Watch the Lighting of the Square

Historic Dahlonega Square • (706) 864-3711

Official Website

One of the most popular North Georgia Christmas events, the Lighting of the Square in Dahlonega marks the official start of the mountain town’s holiday season.

One of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Dahlonega, the 2023 event starts at around 4PM on Friday, November 24. 

There will be live Christmas music from the Visitor Center balcony, and then the Tree Lighting will occur at 6PM. 

From the restaurants and shops to the Dahlonega Gold Museum at its center, the entire Dahlonega Square will be lit up in the festive sights and sounds of the season. They’ll remain lit every night through January 8, 2023. 

Remember that there will be road closures around the Square, so check the official Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas website for updated info.  –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

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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!

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together. Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama. Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.