|During September and October Alpine Helen/White County, Georgia, shows off autumn brilliance with fall color and cool mountain air. Some head for the roads less traveled and quiet mountain cabin hideaways; others flock to the lively Bavarian-themed town of Helen for entertainment, dining, shopping–and especially for Oktoberfest.|
This Blue Ridge foothills area is often compared to towns in Germany’s mountain valleys, which inspired Helen’s Alpine architecture, cobblestone pathways and gingerbread-laced buildings. Kicking off the fall season is Helen’s Oktoberfest, a more than 50-year tradition involving weeks of dancing, entertainment, food, and, of course, beer–and wine. Featuring jovialität and fröhlichkeit from Thursday September 8 to Sunday October 30, 2022, it’s the longest-running of its kind in the United States and the Helen Chamber of Commerce’s biggest party of the year.
Starting at 6 p.m. on September 8 the doors of the riverside Helen Festhalle will open, welcoming visitors for German bands, dancing and authentic German food and beverages in an atmosphere like no other. At noon on Saturday September 10, the Oktoberfest Parade kicks off with a colorful swirl of costumed marchers and bands pumping out traditional music on bass drums, Alphorns, cowbells, accordions and more. The first keg-tapping of the festival will take place afterward at the Festhalle, 1074 Edelweiss Street.
Check the schedule for additional events. For instance, those age 21 and over can participate in Helen’s traveling Oktoberfest keg-tapping ceremony on Saturdays that rotates to various biergartens, restaurants and taverns. Keg tapping is a German tradition in which an officiant says a few words, the crowd chants and then imbibes from the freshly tapped keg. Listen for these two phrases: O’zapft is! (It’s tapped!) and “Oans, zwoa, drei, g’suffa!” (One, two, three. . . drink!).
Pop-up events throughout the town add plenty of fun, while shops and dining establishments create their own festival ambience. In the Festhalle, see performers in traditional dirndls, Tyrolean hats and lederhosen, sample the beers and the best of the wurst (six kinds), German potato salad, red cabbage, potato cakes, American dogs and more. Enjoy fine German cuisine, wine and brews all over town. But give local wine equal time! Take a break for serene vineyard and mountain views at several award-winning Helen-White County wineries.
Helen’s Oktoberfest Festhalle Hours and Admission:
September 8 – 25: Thursdays-Sundays
September 29 – October 30: Every day
Monday-Thursday: 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Friday: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Sunday: 1 to 7 p.m.
Admission: Monday-Friday $8, Saturday $10, Sunday free. Active and retired military with ID, free; kids 6-12 half price; under 6 free
More Fall Events
Plenty more events are happening in Alpine Helen/White County in the fall, from an active 5K run to leisurely, less-populated arts and cultural shows. Check the schedule for more events and details here.
Helen’s Alpine Village Arts & Craft Show
25 Chattahoochee Strasse, Helen, 706-878-3933
Live music, arts and crafts booths, retail booths for beer and local wineries, delicious food and much more.
October 7 – 16, select dates
Fridays & Saturdays, Oct. 7, 8, 14 & 15 at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, Oct. 9 & 16 at 2 p.m. in the Center Theatre
Sautee-Nacoochee Cultural Center
283 Highway 255 North, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia; 706-878-3300
Based on the beloved original Broadway performance by Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.
Artoberfest Arts and Fine Crafts Fest
Helen Arts and Heritage Center
25 Chattahoochee Strasse, Helen; 706-878-3933
A celebration of art, autumn, and the festivities of Octoberfest.
Great Helen Duck Race on the Chattahoochee
Paul’s Margarita Deck
8537 B South Main Street, 706-865-7725
Cheer on the launch of 2,400 unsinkable little yellow rubber ducks into the Chattahoochee River across from Paul’s Margarita Deck and watch the race to the finish line at the Helen Festhalle. A fundraiser for Family Promise of White County. Sponsor entry fee; $1,000 cash prize to the winning sponsor.
Oktoberfest Pro Tips
Helen has a road less traveled through town. Edelweiss Strasse runs virtually parallel to South Main Street, from the Budgetel Inn and Suites at the south end to the public parking at Chattahoochee Strasse at the the north end. Visit during the week to enjoy fewer crowds. Early risers enjoy more leisurely morning breakfasts and shopping before the party crowd gets started. Book accommodations well in advance. For more details go to https://helenchamber.com/index.html
Stay at the heart of the action in downtown Helen or head to the peace and quiet of a scenic mountain retreat. Pick from charming bed and breakfasts, quaint alpine-themed motels, cozy cabins, a vibrant collection of vacation rentals or a luxury boutique hotel. Whether you choose a remote cabin, a small property on the river or a branded hotel within walking distance of the Alpine Village, book early for this very popular celebration. Helenga.org/lodging
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