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Nov. 20, 2018
6:58 am


Holiday activites around Lanier

By Jane Harrison
Communities near Lake Lanier’s shores and in the mountainous headwaters brim with holiday activities from festive parades and light spectacles to dips into cold lakes and first day hikes at state parks. Here’s a sample of celebrations:
Magical Nights of Lights, Buford. 25th anniversary drive-through holiday light spectacle and Holiday Village with Santa visits, marshmallow roasting, carnival rides and more through 5-10 p.m. through Jan. 3, Lanier Islands Resort, 7000 Lanier Islands Dr. $45 personal vehicle with 10 or fewer passenger, additional cost for more occupants, $35 on-line tickets.
Children’s Performances, Gainesville. Music and storytelling at Ivester Amphitheatre, 11 a.m. Dec. 2 & 16, Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville Garden, 1911 Sweet Bay Dr. Free with garden admission., 404-888-4760.
• Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas. Daily festivities including Santa visits, caroling, lighting of luminaries, special music, Historic Downtown Dahlonega., 800-231-5543.
A Victorian Christmas at Hardman Farm, Sautee-Nacoochee. Tours of historic home with Victorian themed holiday décor, walk on lighted Unicoi Road, 4-7 p.m. Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15,16, Hardman Farm State Historic Site, 143 Hwy. 17. $12 adults, $10 seniors, $7 youth, $3 children younger than 6 (plus tax).
Holiday Festival/Christmas Tree Lighting, Flowery Branch. Holiday market, parade, hayrides, s’mores, refreshments, live entertainment, Santa visits, tree lighting, noon-6 p.m. Dec. 2, 5517 Main St.
Holiday Parade & Festival, Buford.  Santa arrives in parade on Main Street Downtown 11 a.m., festival, vendors and performances 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2.
Christmas in the Mountains, Cleveland. Old fashioned Christmas with carols, hot cocoa and cookies, kids’ activities, crafts, Santa visits, food booths and more, 5-8 p.m., parade with lighted floats 7 p.m., Dec. 2, Downtown Cleveland.
Christmas at the Gorge, Tallulah Falls. Santa visits, crafts, snacks, 1-3 p.m. Dec. 2, Tallulah Gorge State Park 338 Jane Hurt Yarn Dr. $5., 706-754-7981.
Christmas on Green Street, Gainesville. Holiday parade, tree lighting, carriage rides, tours of historic homes led by docents, choir performances, amusement rides for children, Santa visits, caroling, roving performers and more, 4:30 p.m. Dec. 3, Green St.
Christmas in Cumming Arts & Crafts Festival. Handmade crafts, visits with Santa,  Arts & Craft Festival 4-9 p.m. Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 9;   photos with Santa, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 8, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Dec. 9, Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Rd. Arts & crafts admission $1 adults, free to children 12 and younger.
Breakfast with Saint Nick, Gainesville. Continental breakfast and crafts with Santa, 9-11 a.m. Dec. 9, Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville Garden, 1911 Sweet Bay Dr. $17 adults, $12 children 12 and younger; $2 discount for garden members. Space is limited. Register in advance., 404-888-4760.
Caroling through the Park, Royston. Caroling, hayrides, ornament-making, hot chocolate, photos with Santa, 4-6 p.m. Dec. 9, Victoria Bryant State Park, 1105 Bryant Park Rd. $2 hayride, $5 parking. 706-245-6270,
Christmas in the Park, Oakwood. Choir performances, free hot chocolate, marshmallow toasting, ornament making, pictures with Santa, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 9; Santa arrives by fire engine, 6 p.m. Bring canned or non-perishable food item for pantry.
Breakfast with Santa, Helen. Pancake breakfast, crafts, and games, 9 a.m.-noon Dec. 16, Unicoi State Park, 1788 Hwy. 356. $5, plus $5 parking., 706-878-2201.
First Night Dahlonega. More than 20 musical performances at five venues near the town square, plus New Year’s countdown and Nugget Drop, 6 p.m. Dec. 31, Downtown Dahlonega. $10 for First Night button.
Dropping of the Edelweiss/New Year’s Party, Helen. Music, food, party hats & favors, cash bar, dancing, champagne toast, 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Helen Festhalle, 1074 Edelweiss Strasse.  $20 person, $35 couple, free to children younger than 6, half price for children 6-12., 706-878-1908.
Polar Bear Plunge, Helen. End the year with a dip into Unicoi Lake, warm up with bon fire, hot chocolate, meet at beach at 9:30 a.m., plunge at 11 a.m. Dec. 31, Unicoi  State Park, 1788 Hwy. 356. $10 individuals, $30 family, $5 parking., 706-878-2201.
Polar Bear Plunge, Gainesville. Leap into Lake Lanier to begin 2018, check in 10:45 a.m., jumps begin at noon Jan. 1, Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Rd. $30 individuals, $90 family of four.
New Year’s Day 5K, Cumming. 8:30 a.m. Jan. 1, North Forsyth Middle School, 3845 Coal Mountain Rd. $18.
First Day Hike on Lake Lanier, Gainesville. Ranger-led 1.5 mile hike on Huckleberry Trail with views of Lake Lanier and after-hike campfire at Shelter 4 with s’mores and hot chocolate, 10 a.m. Jan. 1, Don Carter State Park, 5000 North Browning Bridge Rd. $5, plus $5 parking. Register in advance., 678-450-7726.
First Day Hike, Winder. 6.7 mile moderate hike on Lake Loop Trail, 10 a.m. Jan 1, Fort Yargo State Park, 210 S. Broad St. $5 parking., 770-867-3489.
First Day Hike, Sautee Nacoochee. Short walk on historic Unicoi Turnpike, perhaps the oldest road in Georgia; visitors welcome to roam the grounds of former farm, noon-12:30 p.m. Jan. 1, Hardman Farm Historic Site, 143 Hwy. 17., 706-878-1077.
First Day Hike, Dukes Creek Falls, Helen. Guided 2.3 mile hike to cabin for hot chocolate, plus another 2 miles to the falls, 1-4 p.m. Jan. 1, Smithgall Woods State Park, 61 Tsalaki Trl. $5 parking., 706-878-3087.
Family Tradition First Day Hike, Tallulah Gorge. Meet at old jail house for 1.5 mile hike with various activity stops, 2-3:30 p.m. Jan. 1, Tallulah Falls State Park, 338 Jane Hurt Yarn Dr. $5 parking., 706-754-7981.
First Day Hike, Helen. 2.5 mile ranger-led hike around Unicoi Lake; hikers get hiking stick medallion or pin, 10 a.m.-noon Jan. 1, Unicoi State Park, 1788 Hwy. 356. $5 parking., 706-878-2201.
First Day Hike on Bear Hear Gap Trail, Blairsville. Moderately challenging hike for mountain and valley views, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Jan. 1, Vogel State Park, 405 Vogel State Park Rd. $5 parking., 706-745-2628.
First Day Waterfall Hike, Dawsonville. Guided strenuous hike with 604 stairs to tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi, 10 a.m.-noon Jan. 1, Amicalola Falls State Park, 280 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd. $5, plus $5 parking., 706-265-1969.
• First Day Hike, Elberton. Guided 1.4 mile hike along Blackwell Bridge Trail, 10-11 a.m. Jan. 1, Lake Russell State Park, 26250 Russell State Park Dr. $5 parking., 706-213-2045.

Posted online 12/1/17

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