A small town street lit up with holiday lights.

Christmas in Dahlonega, Georgia

These 8 Georgia Small Towns Do Christmas Right

You can't help but feel festive during the holidays in these charming Georgia small towns.

There is just something special about celebrating a Southern Christmas in a charming little town – something that makes it distinctive and memorable. Georgia is full of enchanting small towns, and these locations take pride in knowing how to create holiday celebrations your entire family will remember for years to come.

Woman and child holiday shopping in a small town.

Step into another world in Alpine Helen during the holidays. Photo by @thatplaygroundlife

1. Helen

Fröhliche Weihnachten!! That's German for Merry Christmas, if you’re not familiar. Partake in festive Alpine cheer as you head to Helen for the annual Christkindlmarkt – a tradition that lines the center of town with gifts, decorations, candied treats and more. It's open the last weekend in November and the first weekend in December, but you'll also want to bring the family when Santa arrives on his Bavarian sleigh as part of the Helen Christmas Parade in early December.

Visit Helen

Santa driving a shiny red antique car.

Santa at Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia

2. Cleveland

Not too far from Helen is Cleveland, which offers several unique holiday experiences. Get outside for a brisk hike at Yonah Preserve Trails, and visit The Cottage Vineyard & Winery to relax with a glass of wine while enjoying the view of the North Georgia mountains. Visit on Dec. 2, 2023, for the Christmas in the Mountains Celebration & Lighted Parade. Explore Babyland General Hospital, and shop for special gifts for children and the Cabbage Patch fans in your life.

Visit Cleveland

Holiday decorations on a small church.

Holiday decorations on a small church in Thomasville, Georgia. Photo by @robbiecaponetto

3. Thomasville

Step back in time during Thomasville's Victorian Christmas Dec. 14-15, 2023, when the downtown comes alive with performers, carolers and musicians dressed in historic attire. Enjoy live reindeer carriage rides, a live nativity, marshmallow toasting, chestnut roasting, plein air artists and much more.

In addition to the festival, Thomasville is a great place for Christmas shopping: Southlife Supply Co, Kevin's Fine Outdoor Gear and Apparel, Kathy's Shoes, Mode Boutique, Toscoga Marketplace and so much more. Thomasville is an award-winning "small-town," and its Christmas cheer exemplifies why it's a well-deserved award!

Visit Thomasville

A Christmas tree and decoations inside a historic home.

Holiday decorations at Hills & Dales Estate in LaGrange, Georgia

4. LaGrange

Home to the Callaway family, you can enjoy the 1916 Hills & Dales Estate (Fuller and Ida Callaway's home,) decked in decadent holiday decor, or dazzle the kids with a nearby stop in Pine Mountain at Callaway Resort & Gardens’ Fantasy In Lights. Did you know National Geographic dubbed it one of the world's best places for Christmas sparkle? Want to dive a little deeper into the first Christmas experience? Make a stop at the Biblical History Center for a historical experience of the season.

Visit LaGrange

5. Dahlonega

Video by @jeremysatterfield

Christmas trees, mistletoe and thousands of twinkling lights adorn historic Dahlonega from the Friday after Thanksgiving with the Lighting of the Square until year-end, creating an old-timey holiday experience during Dahlonega's Old Fashioned Christmas. A hometown parade welcomes the Jolly Old Elf on Dec. 9, 2023, followed by carolers, live music, wine tastings, horse-drawn carriage rides and more. Don't miss a visit with Santa in the Public Square, where you can take a picture with Santa in front of the Christmas tree every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Visit Dahlonega

Two people sitting at a table in a restaurant.

The Sinclair in Madison, Georgia

6. Madison

Named "One of The South's Best Small Towns" by Southern Living in 2018, Madison is home to the largest collection of 19th-century architecture in Georgia with a mix of Greek revival, late Victorian and Romanesque-style buildings. See them decorated for the season, and stroll through the festively decorated downtown sampling holiday treats at the many restaurants and sweet shops. In November, visit for Shop, Sip & Stroll Saturdays to enjoy retail promotions, light refreshments and holiday music. And, don't miss the Holiday Tour of Homes Dec. 1-2, 2023, featuring cottages and historic homes all dressed up for the holidays.

Visit Madison

Exterior or a tea shop light up at night in a small town.

Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia

7. Blue Ridge

Ahhh, the Blue Ridge Express at Christmas … what a way to kick off the season. Listen to a Christmas story, sing carols and meet with the big guy, St. Nick. There are also daytime and nighttime pavilion rides, which are longer tours and a chance to meet with Santa on the pavilion.

If you can’t make the train ride, then see Santa and Mrs. Claus before and during Light Up Blue Ridge on Nov. 25, 2023, the official lighting of the Christmas tree in Blue Ridge.

Visit Blue Ridge

White lights hang in a large tree at night.

Holiday lights on Jekyll Island, Georgia

8. Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island is home to more than a million lights during the Holly Jolly Jekyll season. The Great Tree alone has more than 45,000, which is more per square foot than the NYC Rockefeller Center Christmas tree! Purchase tickets online for the guided tram tours that take place on select nights. Trolley riders will enjoy festive holiday beverages, music, and a one-of-a-kind tour souvenir!

Don't miss the light parade, holiday fireworks, and special drive-in movie presentations. Check the Jekyll Island events calendar for a full lineup of holiday fun that starts Nov. 24, 2023!

Visit Holly Jolly Jekyll

Published: August 2023
Written by: Lesli Peterson
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