Thinned traffic and vegetation, no bugs, crisp comfortable weather, the same quality German food and beers, quiet but quite festive nonetheless. December is a great time for relaxing or giving the family a special holiday getaway in Helen. The entire month is a comforting mug of hot cocoa.
December in Helen seems relatively quiet after the Oktoberfest season has ended and the leaves have fallen. But the beginning of winter is an even more hallowed and historic celebration season, especially for families. Helen remains Germanic year-round, and since we aren’t in the actual Alps, the weather hovers in between 53 and 32 degrees, leaving the outdoors open to you as well.
When you come into town, try something warm and broth-y from Bodensee Restaurant and find a bock beer to drink with it. Winter is prime time for German brewing, and especially the bock beers that require months of cold storage (bocks are hearty, clean-tasting beers with deep color and high-ish ABV). Get the kids some cider and warm pretzels. You can probably find a warm fireplace, too. Now that you’re settled in, be part of our Christmas festivities all month long.
Chistkindlmarkt (December 1-2; 8-9)
Christmas markets originated in Germany as last-chance winter stock-up markets. Between the 1200s and 1400s they transformed into celebratory events. Craftspeople sold baskets, toys, and woodcarvings, as well as winter treats—almonds, nuts, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and other baked goods. Items from Christmas markets became gifts for Christmas or New Year’s. Nearly every town in Germany has a Christmas market, which adds to the sense of community warmth and shared culture that we feel during the holidays. We carry on this tradition with handmade crafts, warm drinks, performances, and other attractions.
The Christmas Parade in Helen has an array of floats, familiar as well as distinctly German Christmas characters, music, dance, and treats. Later in the afternoon, children are invited to decorate traditional lanterns for lighting in the yearly Lantern Parade. At the end of this parade, which proceeds from downtown to the Festhalle, we’ll have s’mores and hot chocolate around a bonfire.
Breakfast with Santa (December 16)
Der Weihnachtsmann brings German children toys every year. Make your reservation (ticket link above) to have breakfast with Santa at the Unicoi State Park Lodge.
Victorian Christmas (December 7-8;14-15)
Hardman Farm is a state historic site you can enjoy year-round with and Indian Mound, an authentic 18th-century home and dairy farm. During Christmas, Hardman Farm carefully recreates how houses in the Victorian era would have been decorated. Christmas music and treats are available to be enjoyed each night (ticket link above).
The great thing about December in Helen is that you can get your fill of holiday activities, and otherwise, you’re free to be as leisurely and relaxed as you like.