The holidays shine brightly around Lake Lanier and in the mountain headwaters. Boat parades, dulcimer pickin’, snow tubing, carriage rides, Santa visits, tree lightings and numerous other traditional and non-traditional activities abound in the diverse environment spanning small mountain towns to the bustling lake shore.
A sample of area Holiday Events:
Nov. 22 – Jan. 15 – License to Chill Snow Island/Lakeside Lights Spectacular, Buford. Snow tubing, ice skating, carnival rides, s’more making, plus walk-through holiday light extravaganza with festive music; Snow Island 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Nov 4- Feb. 25; Lights Spectacular 5-9 p.m., Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, 7650 Lanier Islands Pkwy. Various prices. www.margaritavilleresorts.com
Nov. 18 – Holiday Bazaar, Gainesville. Shop for ornaments, handmade gifts, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Hall County Farmer’s Market, 734 E. Crescent Dr. www.exploregainesville.org.
Nov. 18 or Dec. 16 – Hops & Holly Wreath Making, Gainesville. Make evergreen wreath, sip a brew, 2-3:30 p.m., Gainesville Garden of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1911 Sweet Bay Dr. $50, $45 members. www.atlantabg.org. 404-888-4760.
Nov. 18 – Cumming City Center Winter Market/Tree Lighting. Artists sell homewares, fashion accessories and more beginning at 10 a.m. followed by 6 p.m. holiday celebration with live music, family activities, warm drinks and desserts, Cumming City Center, 423 Canton St. www.cummingcitycenter.org.
Nov. 18 – Jingle Mingle, Gainesville. Kiddy train rides, carriage rides, open house and live music at historic buildings, holiday shopping, Santa’s arrival and Lighting of the Chicken ceremony, 4-6:30 p.m., Historic Gainesville Square. www.exploregainesville.org.
Nov. 18 – Celebrate the Holidays, Braselton. Annual parade, tree lighting, live reindeer, entertainment, market and more, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., downtown Braselton & Town Green. www.explorebraselton.com.
Nov. 22-Jan. 5 – Wilshire Wonderland of Lights, Gainesville. Stroll through beloved Gainesville park decorated with holiday lights, Wilshire Trails Park, 849 Wilshire Trials Rd. www.gainesville.org.
Thurs.-Sat. Nov. 23-Dec. 9, nightly Dec. 14-23 – Mountain Country Christmas in Lights, Hiawassee. See Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in holiday lights, plus music, arts vendors, food, Santa visits and Cowtown exhibit with cow milking, butter, ice-cream making, 6 p.m., 1311 Music Hall Rd. $7, free to children 12 & younger. www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.org.
Thru Jan. 7 – Old Fashioned Christmas, Dahlonega. Annual celebration with near-daily holiday activities beginning with Lighting of the Square 5:30 p.m. Nov. 24, carriage rides, Santa visits, food trucks, Festival of Trees, and more. Holiday parade with 11 a.m. Dec. 9, Historic Downtown Dahlonega. www.dahlonegachristmas.com.
Nov. 25 – Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting, Clermont. Annual holiday parade with floats, bands, tractors, antique cars & Santa, followed by tree lighting, 5 p.m., Main Street. www.clermontga.com.
Tues.-Sun., Nov. 28-Dec. 31 – Holiday Tree Trail, Gainesville. View six-feet Fraser firs decorated by local clubs, organizations and businesses, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Gainesville Garden of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1911 Sweet Bay Dr. $14.95 adults, $12.95 children ages 3-12, free to children younger than 3 and members. www.atlantabg.org. 404-888-4760.
Fridays and Saturdays in December – Victorian Christmas at Hardman Farm, Sautee Nacoochee. See Mansion at West End decorated in period décor, learn about Victorian holiday traditions from re-enactors, plus live music, s’mores around a bon fire, 4-7 p.m. . $15-$49, free to children 5 and younger. Registration required. www.gastateparks.org. 706-878-1077.
Dec. 2 – Christmas in the Mountains Festival & Lighted Parade, Cleveland. Parade, open houses, market on downtown square, Cleveland County Courthouse, 5-8 p.m., intersection Ga. 129/115. www.whitecountychamber.org.
Dec. 3 – Christmas on Green Street, Gainesville. Annual celebration on Historic Green Street with antique car parade, marching bands, and floats, plus food trucks, activities and performances at historic homes, 2-7 p.m. See new schedule: www.exploregainesville.org.
Dec. 5 – Holiday Craft-Making, Gainesville. Create a holiday craft, free with regular admission, 10 a.m.-noon, Gainesville Garden of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. $14.95 adults, $12.95 children ages 3-12, free to children younger than 3 and members. www.atlantabg.org. 404-888-4760.
Dec. 9 – Holiday Boat Parade, Lake Lanier. Festival of lights on the water with decorated boat; parade begins at 5 p.m., north of Port Royale and floats toward Aqualand Marina for judges’ review before heading to Margaritaville for music and awards. Rain out day Dec. 10. Entry fees $75-$200. www.georgiasheriffsyouth.org.
Dec. 9 – Annual Christmas Parade, Helen. Fire trucks, horses, dirt-buggies, floats, candy, Santa, 2 p.m., Downtown Helen. www.helenga.org.
Dec. 9 & 10 – Christmas at the Inn, Toccoa. Festive dulcimer music, hot apple cider and teacakes, 19th-century stagecoach inn decorated with greenery and handmade ornaments, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Traveler’s Rest Historic Site, 4339 Riverdale Rd. www.gastateparks.org, 706-886-2256.
Dec. 9 – Holiday Jamboree on the Mountain, Clarkesville. Live music, nature crafts, Santa visits, hayrides, Mellinger Center/campground, 3-5 p.m., Black Rock Mountain State Park, 3805 Black Rock Mountain Pkwy. $5 parking. www.gastateparks.org, 706-746-2141.
Dec. 14 – Happy Holiday Hike, Helen. Naturalist-led hike to covered bridge to learn some fun holiday lore, plus hot cocoa and cookies at the visitor’s center, 10 a.m.-noon, Smithgall Woods State Park, 61 Tsalaki Trl. $5 parking. www.gastateparks.org, 706-878-4308 ext. 7.