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Just an hour and a half outside of Atlanta lies the picturesque German town of Helen, Georgia. Nestled in the mountains of North Georgia, this charming Bavarian village transforms into a lively hub of German tradition and culture during its annual Oktoberfest celebration. This year, the festivities run from September 9 through October 29, offering visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in German history and traditions.
Looking for another way to get an authentic German experience without needing your passport? Check out our guide to a day trip in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Get more details >> One-Day Trips: Frankenmuth, MI (aaa.com)
Although we arrived a little later than the 1 p.m. gate opening, the square was still buzzing with excitement when we got there around three. We gladly paid the $12 Saturday admission fee, excited to see what this slice of Bavaria in the state of Georgia had in store for us.
Our first stop was the Festhalle, where an array of mouthwatering German delicacies awaited us. From sauerkraut to red cabbage and a variety of wurst options—including my favorite, the cheddarwurst. We then turned our attention to the beer selection in the nearby biergarten. There, we discovered an impressive assortment of German beers and wines, alongside some recognizable domestics. With food and drinks in hand, we wandered to the outdoor seating to enjoy our meal.
As we savored our food and drinks, we took in the sights. Festivalgoers donned traditional German attire, and the lively sounds of the band Prost playing traditional Bohemian polka music filled the air. It's worth noting that every weekend the festival features a different musical act, ensuring that each visit to Oktoberfest is a unique experience.
Afterward, we set out to explore the town of Helen itself. The charming shops in downtown specialize in authentic, imported memorabilia like hand-painted china, cuckoo clocks and tasty chocolates, which you can find at the Hansel and Gretel candy shop. There are plenty of other things to do in Helen with its numerous restaurants and hotels, making it an ideal destination for an extended visit. If you're an outdoor enthusiast, the surrounding North Georgia area offers several hiking trails with waterfalls, state parks and creeks for fishing. It's also the perfect stop to see the changing of the leaves.
Before concluding our Oktoberfest adventure, we made one last stop at the Festhalle. There, we indulged in a giant pretzel paired with rich beer cheese and a slice of decadent German chocolate cake.
As the day ended, we hopped on the train that transported us back to where we had parked. Helen, with its array of charming hotels, cozy bed and breakfasts and diverse dining options, offers more than just an event. For those seeking an authentic German experience without leaving the country, Helen, Georgia’s Oktoberfest is a must-visit destination.
Oktoberfest dates and times:
Sept 7 – 10, 2023 (Thursday – Sunday)
Sept 14 – 17, 2023 (Thursday – Sunday)
Sept 21 – 24, 2023 (Thursday – Sunday)
Sept 28 – Oct 29, 2023 (nightly)
Monday through Thursday: 6:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Friday: 6:00 PM – Midnight
Saturday: 1:00 PM – Midnight
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Monday – Thursday: $10.00
Friday/Saturday pass: $20.00
Active & Retired Military: Free with a military ID
Under 6: Free
Age 6 – 12: Half price