Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
While Georgia might not be known for its snowfall, that does not stop the state from hosting some magical holiday celebrations. Here are some of the top places to visit during the December holidays this year.
Starting off we have Dahlonega. This picturesque town has been featured in three Christmas movies, including the 2015 film “Christmas in the Smokies.” Dahlonega hosts a variety of events throughout December, including Christmas lights viewing, carriage rides and the festival of trees every day for the month. There will also be presentations of the musical “She Loves Me” at the Holly Theater every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The city describes their event as a “month long, family friendly, celebration.” Christmas in Dahlonega has been highlighted by Southern Living three times, by HGTV, Fox News, and by Martha Stewart as among the top Christmas towns in the country.
For a less modern holiday celebration, people can visit Thomasville. Thomasville hosts a Victorian Christmas event, inviting visitors to “Journey into the past as our turn-of-the-century Downtown ushers you into the spirit of Christmas long ago.” The event features opportunities to meet St. Nick, a live nativity scene, blacksmithing demonstrations, and live reindeer, among other attractions.
Jekyll Island is celebrating their 75th anniversary as a state park this year and hosting their annual Holly Jolly Jekyll event. Over 1 million lights have been strung throughout the island, including over 45,000 on the Great Tree, an enormous live oak that is estimated to be nearly 400 years old. Visitors can purchase tickets for light tours on “Jekyll’s jolliest trolley,” or drive themselves for a self-guided light tour. Trolley tickets are selling out fast, so be sure to buy them here if you plan to ride. There will also be a Light Parade on December 10, fireworks on December 22 and 29, and a drive in movie showing Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on December 20 and 27. A full event calendar is available on their website here.
Anyone hoping to recreate the magic of the film “The Night Before Christmas” can join the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway for their one-hour Holiday Express train ride. “The Night Before Christmas” will be played during the ride, and children will receive a Blue Ridge Scenic Railway jingle bell, a chance to see Santa Claus, and other gifts. Hot chocolate and other snacks are available for purchase in the concessions car. If you are interested, you can see ticket pricing and availability on their website here.
Last for this list is the Hills & Dales Estate in LaGrange. The 13,000 square foot home designed to highlight the gardens was completed in 1916. Sarah Ferrell planted a series of dwarf boxwood parterres in the terraces of the hill, and they have survived for more than 175 years there. The gardens of the Hills & Dales Estate are considered one of the best preserved 19th-century gardens in the country. Every December, the Callaway family home is redecorated for Christmas inside and out in a vintage style, with tours available from 10am to 5pm every day from December 2 to December 30. On December 10th there will be a Children’s Christmas Celebration, where “Children will delight in creatively icing Christmas cookies, crafting ornaments, and visiting with Santa.” The Children’s Christmas Celebration is free to the community.