Old Town Helena is now an entertainment district—here’s what you should know

Main Street is full of cute shops in turn-of-the-century buildings. Photo via Shelby County Tourism

If you’ve ever driven through Old Town Helena, you’re familiar with the picturesque restored buildings from the early 1900s filled with specialty boutiques and delicious restaurants. The area is now an official entertainment district. Here’s what it means.

The Ruling

Downtown Helena, Alabama. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

According to the Shelby County Reporter, Helena, AL’s City Council voted on August 10 to establish the Old Town area of Helena as an entertainment district.

Essentially, what it means is altering the open container laws in one specific area—usually one with several bars and restaurants—so that patrons are free to walk around the area with alcoholic beverages.

The parameters? You must stay within the boundaries of the district, you must use the specialized cups and the policy is only in effect between noon and midnight. The goal of entertainment districts is to give local businesses a boost while giving patrons some extra freedom.

Here’s a refresher on other entertainment districts around the Birmingham area:

The Reasoning

Helena has come a long, long way since its founding in 1877. City leaders hope this new designation will encourage that growth to continue. Photo via City of Helena

Leigh Hulsey, Pelham native and current Council President Pro Tempore, introduced the ordinance. She shared her reasoning with reporter Alec Etheredge:

“We have watched businesses struggle down there. They want the council to help. We are in the position now to try this. If it does not work, we can get rid of it.

It is not permanent. I feel that we have successfully shown that we can do this with the Buck Creek Festival. It leads me to believe that it won’t be an issue now.”

Leigh Hulsey, Helena City Council, Place 1

Helena’s Buck Creek Festival is an annual free, family-friendly community event that’s usually held on the second weekend of May in Helena’s Amphitheater Park. This year, it’s been rescheduled to October 23-24. Want a sneak preview? Check out this video.

We’re excited to see how this new policy boosts Old Town Helena. What’s a must-see while you’re there? Let us know on social @BhamNow

  • A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.