If the words â€œOctoberâ€ and â€œHelenâ€ are in the same sentence, there can be no doubt weâ€™re talking about the major festival that takes place every year in Georgia. It is the largest festival of its kind in the United States. Yes, weâ€™re talking about Oktoberfest!
In October, Helen fully embraces its Bavarian inspiration by enveloping itself in traditional German culture through music, food, beer, and clothes. Oktoberfest is a festival lasting all through October that is fit for all ages with something for everyone.
Itâ€™s the perfect complement to the area around Helen. As Helen transforms into almost another town entirely, the foliage is turning from green to bright red, gold, and copper.
Keep reading to learn more about what you can expect from Oktoberfest.
Alpine Helenâ€™s Oktoberfest has been a 50+ year tradition! It imitates Germanyâ€™s Oktoberfest, which started back in 1810. In Germany, itâ€™s the largest and longest folk festival, lasting from mid or late September to the first Sunday in October.
This authentic version of Oktoberfest includes an extravagant parade with horse carriages and floats, restaurateurs and showmen, music bands, riflemen, and a lot of beer.
Whatâ€™s the point in celebrating a traditionally Bavarian custom if you canâ€™t do it properly with the right food? There are several restaurants that serve traditional German foods. Some of these restaurants are:
You can look forward to chowing down on bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, German potato salad, Knockwurst, Bauernwurst, SpÃ¤tzle Suppe, and of course, pretzels!
All the bars and restaurants in Helen will be having Oktoberfest specials. Youâ€™ll be able to enjoy more delicious options than usual during the year. By the way, you should also try one of the hand-made German pretzels. They’re huge and worth sharing with friends, along with mustard of cheese dip!
Youâ€™re going to need something to help wash down your dinner. As we touched on earlier, beer is a major component in the traditional Oktoberfest, usually having tents dedicated to each kind of beer. That tradition has carried through to the modern American version.
To start, thereâ€™s a traditional ceremony for tapping the first keg of the celebration that would typically be done by the mayor of Munich. In Helen, they do the same thing.
After that, there are a number of tents with different selections of both German and American beers for anyone old enough to drink them.
And there isnâ€™t just beer, of course. Thereâ€™s also wine and plenty of drinks that those under 21 can have, such as sodas.
If you want to learn more about local breweries or wineries, North Georgia has plenty to choose from. Check out these articles if you’d like to learn more:
You canâ€™t have a celebration without music. That just wouldnâ€™t be right. One of the major highlights of Oktoberfest is the traditional music played by local music bands that are way too much fun to listen to and dance to!
Have you ever danced the â€œpolkaâ€? What about the Waltz? Or the Chicken dance? Itâ€™s an experience you canâ€™t miss! Just be sure to drag your friends into it with you so that they canâ€™t make fun of you for it. You can try singing and dancing to classic German songs like,
- â€œBayerischer Defiliermarschâ€
- â€œTrompeten Echoâ€
- â€œAuf und Neiderâ€
- And of course, â€œAnnaliseâ€
You just have to first learn how to pronounce them.
There isnâ€™t just traditional music though. Modern music will be included too.
This year, special guest Brandon Maddox will be visiting in person and playing for two days in several locations in Helen. If youâ€™re unfamiliar, heâ€™s a country artist, probably most well-known for his hit single â€œDixie Chaser.â€
Activities of Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest in Helen, GA does it right! Every day has different events! Weekends will have activities entirely different than what youâ€™ll find during the week. There are rotating musical acts and local activities like arts and crafts booths everywhere.
Nearby, in areas like Elijay, you and the family can
- Go to the Georgia Apple Festival
- Visit Burtâ€™s Pumpkin Farm
- Pan for gold in Dahlonega
- Attend the Hiawassee Mountain Fall Festival
The events during the week will tend to be more family-friendly. Whereas, the weekends may be more targeted to college students and adults.
You donâ€™t have to limit your fun to what the festival offers either. There are still all of the activities you can normally do in Helen, such as ziplining, tubing (if itâ€™s not too cold), shopping, hiking, trying archery, and more.
Last, but not least, we have to bring up the dancing again. Itâ€™s the cherry on top of the town’s nod to German traditions and that includes dressing for the occasion.
In a way, Oktoberfest has its own dress code. Itâ€™s not something you have to do by any means, but there is something to the idea that you get a richer experience when you go all the way.
- Bavarian Alpine hat
- Beer Steins
Everyone dresses up in the Bavarian garb of lederhosen and dirndls, but if you donâ€™t have those, donâ€™t worry. The shops have lots of hats and regular shirts with lederhosen printing.
We know Oktoberfest is the major event in Helen during this time of year, but we canâ€™t forget everyoneâ€™s favorite spooky time of year.
Dedicated to all things spooky, Helen celebrates Halloween all through the season of fall and enjoy some family-friendly events like:
- Haunted ghost tours
- Halloween parties
- Halloween cooking classes
- Halloween bar crawls
- Scarecrow trail
The little Alpine village of Helen always has the Bavarian spirit running through it all year round. Â But in October it transforms from a fairly quiet tourist town to Germany 2.0.
Why not join the festivities this year? Thereâ€™s still plenty of time to make your plans.