Downtown Helen, Georgia

Downtown Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Guide to Helen Oktoberfest 2024

Alpine Helen's Oktoberfest celebrations have been going on for more than 50 years, involving multiple weeks of traditional dancing, food, and beer from September through October. Held in the city’s riverside Festhalle, the permanent home of the festivities, the celebration is the longest-running of its kind in the United States.

Revelers dress in traditional attire, lederhosen and dirndls, while dancing to the polka. Find out for yourself what makes this tradition so unique by planning your own trip to the event!

When to Go to Helen for Oktoberfest

A woman enjoying the sights and sounds of Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @viajando_con_carlita

Celebrate the start of Oktoberfest with a parade at noon on Sept. 7, 2024, in downtown Helen. Helen’s Oktoberfest runs from Thursday to Sunday through September and daily from Sept. 26 to Oct. 27, 2024.

Like with its German counterpart, the celebrations at Helen's Oktoberfest are wildly different from weekday to weekend. Weekends are popular with tour and college groups, while weekdays tend to be a bit more family-friendly. The event is open to all ages. Admission is $10 during the week, $12 on Fridays & Saturdays, and free on Sundays, with food and drink available for purchase. The doors open at 6 p.m. throughout the week and at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Where to Stay in Helen for Oktoberfest

Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia
Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

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.

Dogs in costume at Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @theadventuresof3pups
Even dogs can get in the spirit at Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @theadventuresof3pups
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 in Helen, Georgia
Hofer's of Helen in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

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. Photo by @westy4xer
Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @westy4xer
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: December 2023
Written by: Caroline Eubanks
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