Ho! Ho! Ho! From Alpine to Appalachian, get ready to celebrate the holidays in Alpine Helen, a Bavarian beauty set in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, and enjoy traditions in the nearby communities of Sautee, Nacoochee and Cleveland.
Fill up your shopping bags at Helen's Christkindlmarkt, a German tradition where the center of town is filled with booths offering specialty gift items, decorations, assorted savory food, drinks and candied treats. Sponsored by the Helen Chamber of Commerce, the fifth annual Christkindlmarkt will take place in the Helen Market Platz 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23-25, and Dec. 1-2. Santa will also be available for photo opportunities in the band shell during Christkindlmarkt, noon-4 p.m. Another "can't-miss" holiday happening: the Helen Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Helen-White County Convention and Visitors Bureau, winds through town 2 p.m., Dec. 1.
Seasonal festivities officially kick off at Babyland General Hospital in nearby Cleveland with Appalachian Christmas, Saturday, Nov. 17. In Helen, the holidays are marked with pomp and circumstance as Santa and Mrs. Claus sleigh into town via horse drawn carriage during the Annual Lighting of the Village, 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 23. Performances by local musicians will have everyone basking in the holiday spirit and children can gather round Santa from 6:30-9 p.m. as he settles in at the downtown band shell. All of Helen will be aglow with lights, marking the official start of the most wonderful time of the year, and everyone is welcome to join in this annual festival celebration.
Nacoochee Village marks the season 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Dec. 8 with complimentary photos with Santa, live music, special sales and seasonally-inspired refreshments. A White Christmas cash donation, sponsored by Caring and Sharing of White County, will also be accepted by all merchants during this time to benefit those in need. Find additional details at www.NacoocheeVillage.com
Adding to the holiday hoopla, the Festival of Trees begins Nov. 21 at Unicoi State Park Lodge and will sparkle until Dec. 8. Deck the Halls at Unicoi State Park Lodge on Dec. 1, and, also, don't miss the Annual Christmas in the Mountains Festival, 3-8 p.m. The Lighted Christmas in the Mountains Parade begins at 7 p.m. in downtown Cleveland.
Find one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts with German flair, sample pastries and raise a pint to the most wonderful time of the year all while making your holidays brighter with a weekend or week-long getaway. Spend time in the nearby village of Sautee where authentic Appalachian artwork, pottery and hand-made toys make it easy to find something for everyone on the Christmas list. After shopping, relax at one of the area wineries, complete with breath-taking views: Habersham Winery showcases 150 medals awarded in both national and international competitions; Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards is North Georgia's newest winery; and, Yonah Mountain Vineyards is home to Georgia's only wine cave.
Don't miss a thing: stay in downtown Helen or immerse yourself in a true mountain experience by renting a nearby cabin. Visit www.HelenGA.org
for accommodation details and complimentary assistance planning your getaway.
Since 1872, the Old Sautee Store has been famous for the combination of old store museum and gourmet foods and fine jewelry.
- Photo2 by Alpine Helen-White County Convention and Visitors Bureau