Dahlonega Christmas

dahlonega christmas decorations

Imagine yourself in a quaint historic town with thousands of holiday lights, music playing, stores decorated with greenery and Christmas decorations, Santa visiting children, horse-drawn lighted carriages taking people around the decorated square. It almost sounds like a scene from an old holiday movie or something out of a Charles Dickens book. It’s a Dahlonega Christmas and it’s only a short drive from Atlanta and the shopping malls.

Dahlonega Christmas is a longstanding tradition. Last year it was featured in Southern Living bringing thousands of tourists to the area. The event which starts the end of November with holiday lights running through mid-January has also been featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Better Homes and Gardens, and Country Living. The Hallmark channel also discovered that Dahlonega makes a great Christmas town and filmed “Christmas in Homestead” a few years ago on the historic square.

The festivities begin the last Friday in November with the lighting of the square and the downtown Christmas tree at 6:00 pm. For the first time ever food trucks will be at Hancock Park from 3:00-7:00 pm Friday and Saturday and for the second and third Saturdays in December. This year Forever Plaid will be performing Christmas songs from their “Plaid Tidings” show on the Visitor Center Plaza Friday and Saturday – November 29 & 30 at 8:00 pm. Stores will also be open later than usual and carriage rides will be available for that romantic ride around the square.

If you can’t make the Dahlonega Christmas holiday kick off weekend the festivities will continue throughout the month and the lights will be lit until January 15th.

Winter Wine Walk Wednesdays will happen the first three Wednesdays in December from 5:00-8:00 pm.. For one price ($35.00 pp) enjoy wine and Charcuterie board hors d’oeuvres at five tasting rooms around the square.

The Holly Theater will have A Christmas Story stage performance the first three weekends in December on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Saturday December 7th will be filled with holiday cheer all day long with visits with Santa, a free Christmas concert at Hancock Park and the Old Fashioned Christmas parade from 4:00-5:00 pm. Having attended the parade in the past it is definitely a small town parade. It’s short on the floats but is still fun to attend. At 7:30 pm you can head to the Dahlonega United Methodist Church for The North Georgia Chamber Symphony holiday concert or catch A Christmas Story at the Holly Theater at 8:00 pm. In between activities enjoy the decorations and holiday atmosphere that greet you everywhere you turn whether you’re eating at one of our downtown’s great restaurants or food trucks, sipping wine at our tasting rooms, window shopping, snuggling with your sweetie on a carriage ride, or checking off that last item on your holiday shopping list.

As you can gather there is plenty to do to put you in the holiday spirit. The link below provides a complete calendar of all the activities. We hope you come and stay with us and experience the Dahlonega Christmas.


HemlockFest- Dahlonega’s Little Woodstock

hemlockfest festival

Hemlockfest is a unique 3 day music festival with a Woodstock vibe that happens the first full weekend in November. Since 2005 Hemlockfest has been raising funds to save the southeastern forests’ Hemlocks which are in peril and to reintroduce the American Chestnuts (more details below).

Festival guests have the option of purchasing passes to the events for 1 to 3 days. On site primitive tent camping sites are available for an additional fee- no trailers or motorhomes. Campers have access to pit toilets and primitive showers. Since it is an environmental festival campers are required to leave no trace and leave the campsite like they found it.

The Hemlockfest venue is Starbridge – a 50 acre private event facility east of Dahlonega (see map below) and provides an ideal location for the event. There is a nice 5 acre lake on the property for paddling canoes provided by Appalachian Outfitters. The event stage where the bands perform uses a sound system powered by solar panels.

As mentioned earlier the purpose of Hemockfest is to save the hemlock trees and reintroduce the southeastern chestnut trees. The hemlocks are being threatened by a parasitic insect called the wooly adelgid and festival proceeds are used to fund predator beetle labs at the local universities to raise the beetles for release in hemlock populated forests. Hemlocks are large evergreen trees that thrive in the shade and provide wildlife habitat and help with soil erosion on mountainsides and streams. They like acid soil and grow in higher elevations where other trees cannot survive. Ten years ago we visited western North Carolina near Grandfather Mountain and saw hundreds of miles of dead hemlocks, as far as you could see. The National Forest Service claims millions of hemlocks have been lost already. Such a loss is devastating to the eco system.

Since 2016 Hemlockfest has also raised money for the American Chestnut tree that has been wiped out by a fungal blight. 100 years ago the tree was a dominant hardwood species in the Appalachian forests. A blight resistant version of the tree is now being introduced in the forests.

Now for the fun part of this blog. When we attend Hemlockfest it seems like a small version of Woodstock. With live bands playing most of the day and into the evening, and attendees dancing and singing it is always a festive event. Food and local craft beer are available so you won’t go hungry or thirsty. Shenanigan’s is always there with a volunteer staff serving food and donating the proceeds to the cause. Artists are there selling their unique creations as well and we always seem to bring something back. Educational exhibits and talks about the hemlocks are also provided. A silent auction with unique items is located near the main stage area.

Come stay us and spend the day at Hemlockfest. Enjoy a unique festival while helping save the hemlocks and reintroduce the chestnuts.

For more information on Hemlockfest and to purchase tickets online visit their web site. http://hemlockfest.org/blog/

Gold Rush Festival- A Survival Guide

gold rush festival

Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Festival happens every year the third weekend in October. The event is the largest festival of the year in Dahlonega and probably the largest festival in the North Georgia mountains. Ranked as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeastern Tourism Society, you should come and experience it at least once.

It has been estimated that over 200,000 people attend the event over the two day weekend so festival goers need to be aware of crowds. This article will provide tips on surviving the festival with all of those people. Come and enjoy the festival atmosphere and work around the crowds unless you like crowds.

The Gold Rush festival does not begin until Saturday morning but you will see evidence of the coming event if you travel downtown Friday afternoon and evening. The Historic Dahlonega square is blocked off with barricades to vehicular traffic Friday evening and the East-West streets are closed from the UNG campus near El Jimodor restaurant to Pueblos Restaurant on the other end. Then the 300 or more vendors move in to set up their booths that will be displaying and selling everything from art to jewelry to hand made furniture. Many festival food vendors will also be setting up to sell drinks, bratwurst, pork rinds, funnel cakes and more.

The Gold Rush Festival also has a great small town parade on Saturday from the Walmart intersection to the square with a grand marshall, festival king and queen. Check the timing if you’re there or plan on driving that way.

Timing is Everything

If you are staying with us for the festival weekend we recommend you enjoy dinner in Dahlonega Friday night before the Gold Rush festival begins. If the streets are blocked the parking areas around the square are a short walk away from the restaurants.

Saturday morning after eating your scrumptious breakfast at the inn plan to head to town by 10:00 am to check out the Gold Rush Festival before the afternoon crowds arrive. Finish up by noon or 1:00 pm and head out of town to one of the five wineries in the area that are mainly located north of town not too far from the inn. For lunch and/or dinner choose one of the wineries (see related blog post below) or the Riverside Tavern at Turners Corner north of the inn.

Getting back into downtown Dahlonega Saturday afternoon can mean a long wait in traffic – at least by our small town country standards. Make your plans accordingly.

Most of the waterfalls, hiking trails and wineries are north of town away from the Gold Rush traffic. These can keep you busy for the rest of your Saturday and Sunday as well. If you want to stop by the festival after breakfast to see if that special item you wanted on Saturday is still there, Sunday morning is a great time to head back to town. Crowds tend to be light until after 12:00 noon.

For more information visit https://goldrushdaysfestival.com/

Dahlonega Wineries for Lunch (Frogtown and Montaluce also serve dinner) https://www.georgiamountaininn.com/2019/09/04/dahlonega-wineries-for-lunch/