Oktoberfest Bier Garden in Helen, Georgia

Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia

Guide to Helen Oktoberfest

Alpine Helen's Oktoberfest celebrations have been going on for 50 years, involving multiple weeks of traditional dancing, food, and, of course, beer from September to October. In 2020, however, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Bavarian town of Alpine Helen-White County has postponed the 50th anniversary of Oktoberfest and the longest running Oktoberfest in the United States.

While the Helen Chamber of Commerce has deemed it best to postpone their official 50th Oktoberfest festivities at the Festhalle until 2021, the city’s restaurants, shops, hotels and amusements still will be open and offering their own Oktoberfest fun for all. Alpine Helen-White County invites visitors to commemorate Oktoberfest through pop-ups, German music and eats, while exploring the outdoor offerings of this North Georgia treasure.

When to Go to Helen for Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest parade in Helen, Georgia
Oktoberfest parade in Helen, Georgia

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Oktoberfest with a parade beginning at noon on Sept. 12, 2020, in downtown Helen. During September and October, there will be pop-up celebrations throughout the town. Businesses and restaurants are still open, and visitors are welcome to explore the best of Alpine Helen-White County, which shows off autumn brilliance with fall color and cool mountain temps.

Where to Stay in Helen for Oktoberfest

Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen
Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen

Accommodations book up for Oktoberfest quickly, so make plans in advance. Alpine-inspired hotels like Valhalla Resort Hotel and The Heidi Motel are popular options for their amenities and quirky suites, respectively. There are also outposts of national chain hotels in town.

If you're traveling with a group, a rental cabin can better accommodate you, which you can find in Unicoi State Park and Smithgall Woods State Park or with companies like Cabin Rentals of Helen, Georgia Mountain Rentals and Pinnacle Cabin Rentals. Some have hot tubs and others have full kitchens.

Campgrounds are another option, whether you're looking for basic tent sites or RV sites with all the bells and whistles. You can also stay in nearby communities like Cleveland, Dahlonega and Blairsville. Helen is an easy drive from Atlanta, less than two hours, and only an hour from the Lake Lanier area.

What to Do in Helen for Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is all about the nods to German traditions.

Enjoy live music and dancing

The event has a rotating group of musical acts, playing traditional German tunes and modern favorites. Dance the polka and others with festival regulars. Sing along with the songs like “Ein Prosit.”

Beer at Helen Oktoberfest
Helen Oktoberfest. Photo by @floridadonny
Eat and drink

The Festhalle has the ceremonial tapping of keg like you'd see at the Munich version of the celebration. The tents have a selection of German and American beers for those who are of age.

Hofer's of Helen exterior

You can't visit Helen for Oktoberfest without trying some German food! Hofer's of Helen is where to start your day with delicious pastries or, later in the day, Reuben sandwiches made by Germans who immigrated to the town in the 1950s. Cafe International and The Troll Tavern are also lunch options. Bodensee has authentic favorites like spaetzle, goulash and wursts. The Heidelberg German Restaurant, Old Bavaria Inn Restaurant & Lounge, Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese Cafe and Hofbrauhaus are additional options.

The bars and restaurants in town have Oktoberfest specials. It should go without saying, but if you’re going to imbibe, make a plan to get home safely via taxi or designated driver.

Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia
Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia
Explore nearby attractions

While you're in the area, take advantage of the natural surroundings with a hike to Anna Ruby Falls or visit one of the many nearby vineyards for a tasting.

Published: August 2020
Written by: Caroline Eubanks