FREE Holiday Events Happening This Weekend

Get in the holiday spirit at these FREE events!

Yule Log Celebration - Listing

Friday, December 12th: Children can search for the fabled Yule Log during the Yule Log Celebration at Reynolds Nature Preserve in Morrow. Other activities include ornament making, storytelling, face painting and seasonal refreshments.

Thursday, December 11th: Eat dinner by candlelight, take a horse-drawn carriage, roast marshmallows and meet Santa during the 12th Annual Hometown Christmas in downtown Warrenton. Don’t miss the tree lighting at 5pm!

Friday, December 12th: Dreaming of a white Christmas? Snowing on the Square in downtown Washington can make those dreams come true. Snow will fall at 6:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 11th – Friday, December 12th: Stroll the old-fashioned brick streets in your best Victorian finery and enjoy the carolers singing your favorite holiday songs, or board a horse-drawn carriage for a ride through these historic streets lit by candlelight during Victorian Christmas in Thomasville.

Tripp Christmas  - Tripp

Photo Credit: Tripp Family

Nightly: The Tripp Family invites you to experience their 500,000+ light display in Cochran. The lights are open for viewing nightly with Santa Claus making an appearance Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

Nightly: TMT Farms Christmtas Lights in Statesboro will be open every evening from 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. Drive through or park in the designated areas to explore on foot, and look for the antique and vintage cars, trucks and tools. Admission is free but donations of canned goods, gift cards or new/unwrapped toys are appreciated.

Saturday, December 13th: Take a Candlelight Christmas Tour of President Carter’s Boyhood Home to see the holiday decorations; listen to interpreters presenting President Carter’s memories and hear how these memories are special to him still. Tours will start at 6:30 p.m. and will end at 8 p.m. Time slots can be reserved by calling the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site at 229-824-4104.

Wreaths Across America Andersonville - Andersonville

Photo Credit: Andersonville NHS

Saturday, December 13th: Each December, Andersonville National Historic Site participates in the national Wreaths Across America program to remember and honor our military veterans. Sponsored wreaths will be laid on gravesites in Andersonville National Cemetery from 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

ENDING Saturday, December 13th: This is the final week to experience the famous Festival of Trees at Unicoi Lodge and Conference Center in Helen! The trees are open to the public from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday, December 13th: Enjoy one-stop holiday shopping, featuring arts and crafts, jewelry and more during the Simply Christmas shopping event at the Historic Haralson County Courthouse in Buchanan.

Santa McDonough - Listing

Saturday, December 13th: Meet Santa Claus during Santa Saturday on the McDonough Square! Santa will be available for meet and greets from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Photos for purchase will be available.

Saturday, December 13th: The Albany Area Arts Council (AAAC) and Albany Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) will present a Holiday Party from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Arts Council. Families will enjoy hands-on holiday art activities and the DCSS Elementary Art Show.

Saturday, December 13th: Enjoy an evening full of music and holiday spirit brought to you by Madison Main Street. Local choral groups, bands and musicians will perform holiday carols that are certain to warm your heart. Learn more here.

Sunday, December 14th: Welcome Santa Claus and his friends at the Royston Christmas Parade! The parade begins at 3:30 p.m.

11 Ways to Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of “Gone with the Wind”


Before there was Brad and Angelina, there was Scarlett and Rhett. Explore Georgia to celebrate 75 years of this quintessential Hollywood classic.



Photo Credit: Atlanta Restaurant Blog

Atlanta Movie Tours will offer their special Gone with the Wind tour on Saturday, December 13th.  Board a luxury coach for a 3-hour tour based on the world’s most famous novel with the woman who created it. Book your spot here.

In celebration of the film premiere’s 75th anniversary, Oakland Cemetery will bring back their special topic tour on Margaret Mitchell on Sunday, December 14th. Reserve your spot ASAP – tickets for the 3pm tour are already sold out! Click here for reservations.

The Road to Tara Museum, Margaret Mitchell House and Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square will be offering visitors a special admission rate of 75 cents at each location on Monday, December 15th. Click here to learn more.

10650053_10154898555050151_6880114776464112800_nMonday, December 15th: Join the Atlanta History Center in celebrating the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind by reliving the glitz and glamour of the 1939 Atlanta premiere through real-time updates and photos chronicling the event. To follow the live blog, visit and look for posts with #GWTWATL.

Watch a special 75th Anniversary Showing of Gone with the Wind at The Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum on Monday, December 15th. Film begins at 7pm with a pre-show at 6:30pm. Buy tickets here.


Travelguide2014(1)Relive the excitement of the 1939 premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on page 12 of the 2014 Georgia Travel Guide! Order your FREE copy here.

Discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most beloved novels through the Gone With the Wind Trail in and around Atlanta, an official state designated trail.

The Gone With The Wind Tour is a nostalgic audio narrative through the rich and romantic antebellum era that inspired Margaret Mitchell’s legendary novel. Be entertained with the tales of Mitchell’s world-renown Gone With The Wind and its unique literary ties to Jonesboro.

The University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the premiere of Gone With the Wind with a major exhibit. The UGA Libraries has the largest collection in the country of Mitchell’s personal papers and other materials, donated by Mitchell’s brother, Stephens Mitchell. The exhibit will remain on display through the end of 2014.

Photo Credit: Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast

Photo Credit: Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast

Spend the night in the Frankly Scarlett Suite at The Twelves Oaks Bed & Breakfast in Covington. In his book “Antebellum Homes of Georgia,” David King Gleason writes that Margaret Mitchell recommended Twelve Oaks as a model for Ashley’s home in the Gone With The Wind film.

Tour Stately Oaks Plantation in Jonesboro – the home that was said to inspire Margaret Mitchell’s Tara.



Surprising Suburbs: Montaluce Winery & Estates


IMG_3292Take wine tasting to a new level and move right in. That’s the way Montaluce Winery & Estates embraced me on a side trip from Dahlonega.

Treat the classic “Let’s do lunch” the same way; start early and stay late. Or longer. Overnight options here too.

Of course you’d expect the food and the wines to be excellent so here are six tips you might not be thinking about for stay-longer planning.

P1010662A neighborhood

Streets with names like Plaza Pomino and Via Montaluce, evocative of Tuscany whether you’ve been there, or just dream of a trip. Wind through woodsy and wide-open byways, meadows too as you seek the restaurant and tasting room.

Then take a walk afterwards. Stroll awhile.

Expansive views

The glass-walled dining room and the open-air porch give sweeping views of the vineyard where ten varietals are harvested.  Outdoors, the railing is wide enough to balance your wine glass comfortably and lean on your elbows to gaze.

P1010659Abundant colors

Executive Chef Sean Fritchle is an artist. Plating is the term used often in culinary conversation, referring to pretty ways the food might be arranged. Devise a new word for his artistry, and order the beet root salad no matter what you think about beets.

Rainbow quinoa involves heirloom merlot lettuce, toasted almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, lemon, feta and a dash of sauvignon blanc.

Panna cotta and pound cake might sound like a bland-colored desert, but not here. Bourbon peaches, raspberry pulp and canteloupe sorbet provide this rainbow.

Same for the tomato macaroon with blackberry tomato jam, almond tuile, blackberry sauce and thyme ice cream — sumptuous.

IMG_3300Fresh, natural, real food

The Montaluce Winery & Estates gardens are Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) and that’s important. To me it means they’re committed, practical and honest in a world where organic claims are dubious with so many hoops to jump through.

CNG means real food, no genetically modified substances, no synthetic chemicals and local farming, rooted in community.

Admire rough-cut cedar raised bed gardens in a big field across the way from villas where the neighbors live.  Tuscan kale grows here!

Also, heirloom lettuces and rainbow carrots, micro greens started inside in hydroponic Montaluce gardens, turnips, cucumbers and more.


Joy and curiosity permeated the luncheon guests throughout my afternoon, greeting one another, asking what another had ordered because it looked so spectacular.

The only electronic devices I saw interrupting meals were my own and my excuse is the professional need to share Montaluce wonders via real-time social media.

Full disclosure suggests I should advise you to employ the same disreputable table manners I used. I ate most of my delicate beet root salad with my fingers, wanting to separate each flavor instead of blending them with a proper forkful.

P1010655Spend some nights

Four privately owned villas can be rented with two-night minimum stays, housekeeper included. Three have three bedrooms and one has five. Prices start at $350 a night, or $500 for the largest.

Enticing names like Villa La Vigna Vista and Villa del Sole, or Villa della Luna and Villa Oliveti. Payments can be made directly through VRBO, Vacation Rentals By Owner, but the Montaluce website will provide the rental link and contact.

Le Vigne Restaurant serves lunch Tuesday – Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Sunday brunch  11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Saturday dinner 5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Wine tastings Tuesday – Saturday 11: a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday Noon – 5:00 p.m.

Photos by Christine Tibbetts

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at


These Georgia Cities Are Filled with Holiday Spirit

Photo Credit: Alpine Helen-White County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Credit: Alpine Helen-White County Chamber of Commerce

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the Christmas season in the South! There’s nothing like coming home for the holidays, and if you’re looking for family festivities guaranteed to warm your spirit like cold hands around a mug of hot chocolate, these communities all across Georgia can deliver on all of your Christmas wishes.

Albany, Georgia

Nothing says, “ho, ho, ho” like Christmas lights and you won’t want to miss the 24th Annual Celebration of Lights Christmas Parade, December 6 in Albany, complete with with marching bands, floats, many other entrants, and special appearance by Santa Claus. Afterwards, consider starting a new family tradition with a car ride or magical train ride on the Wiregrass Express through Chehaw’s Festival of Lights.

Augusta, Georgia

Don’t miss the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” performed live on stage at the historic Imperial Theatre!

Photo Credit: Fannin County-Blue Ridge Chamber of Commerce

Photo Credit: Fannin County-Blue Ridge Chamber of Commerce

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Beginning December 6th at Serenberry Vineyards in Morganton, enjoy an entire weekend of holiday cheer at the Mountain Wine Country Holiday Highway. The three-day excursion winds through 14 different mountain wineries for a unique holiday experience. Call (706) 623-8463 for reservations. While you’re in Blue Ridge, don’t miss out on the chance to take the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway‘s Santa Express or Night Train to Santa’s Pavilion.

Alpine Helen, Georgia

The Helen Arts and Heritage Center is proud to be hosting a historical look at the traditions of an old south Appalachian Christmas on December 9, and just outside of the Alpine Village, Helen’s Unicoi State Park and Lodge will be celebrating the season with their annual Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for the United Way of White County where visitors can bid on the numerous trees and wreaths decorating every corner of the Lodge.

Macon, Georgia

Macon’s College Hill Corridor, the 2-square mile area of town surrounding Mercer University, comes alive at Christmas time with its Christmas in the Corridor event, featuring guaranteed snow (in a part of the state that rarely has snow before New Years) and a snow slide, carriage rides, carolers, and holiday revelry. New to the Corridor this year will be the Macon Made gift tent, a pop-up market featuring wares made by 12 local artisans.

6 Can’t-Miss Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Georgia

It’s time to ring in the holiday season with joy, cheer and giant Christmas trees! Get in the holiday spirit at these community tree lighting ceremonies.

December 2nd: Bring the whole family to the Royston Wellness and Community Park for the Royston Tree Lighting! There will be holiday music, train rides, Santa and the lighting of the tree.

Kingsland - listing

December 4th: Downtown Kingsland comes together for the Annual Kingsland Christmas Tree Lighting and Downtown Open House. Starting at 5 p.m., the Kingsland Historic Depot offers snow in South Georgia. Beginning at 6 p.m., watch as the city lights the Christmas tree. Activities include: Live Christmas caroling, Christmas story reading, Santa Claus and free holiday refreshments – hot cocoa, wassail and Christmas cookies.

Photo Credit: Atlanta INtown Paper

Photo Credit: Atlanta INtown Paper

December 4th: Listen to live music from local schools, sample delicious holiday treats, get your picture taken with Santa and take a ride on the Vinings Express Train during the Vinings Jubilee Annual Christmas Tree Lighting! The event runs from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

McDonough - listing

December 6th:  Celebrate Christmas in McDonough at the McDonough Christmas Tree Lighting & Parade! The annual Christmas Tree Lighting will begin at 5 p.m. on the historic McDonough Square. The Christmas Parade will follow at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

December 6th: The 5th Annual Downtown Fayetteville Christmas Parade begins at 5 pm, followed by Fayetteville’s tree lighting ceremony at 6 pm. Free carriage rides with Santa Claus will be offered from 6-8 pm.

Photo Credit: Becky Morris

Photo Credit: Becky Morris

December 11th: Get your photo taken with Santa Claus, enjoy the beautiful sounds of Christmas carolers and drop off a Toys for Tots donations at the Light Up Brookhaven Holiday Tree Lighting! The fun starts at 6 pm.