Oktoberfest, also known as Alpine Helen, takes place annually in Helen, Georgia, starting on the second Thursday in September. Because the festival runs until the first Sunday in November, travelers have plenty of time to linger, observe the fall foliage change in the Blue Ridge Mountains and explore local sights. In 2011, the event marked its 41st year.
Travelers can experience the feeling of Gemütlichkeit - the atmosphere of community, cheer and belonging that is the heart of the experience of Oktoberfest (helenga.org). The village of Helen's Festhalle is the prime location for enjoyment of dining and refreshments, which features traditional food and drink. Within the Festhalle, rows of long tables are arranged so that diners can enjoy their food and the entertainment at the same time. Visitors can try a wurst, schnitzel or a brat on a roll, accompanied by German beer. Friday and Saturday night events require paid admission, while Sundays are free. Guests purchase food and drink separately.
Helen emulates a traditional Alpine village, including cobblestone streets and themed buildings. Visitors can enjoy scenic views of the North Georgia mountains while they buy unique gifts for the holidays. The town has more than 200 shops, including specialty stores for antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted quilts, pottery and furniture by local craftsmen. Nacoochee Village (nacoocheevillage.com), on the south side of Alpine Helen, is home to an antique mall, historic Nora Mill and Habersham Winery Visitors can tour the processing facility. ample and purchase locally made wines.
Make reservations for your lodging early if you plan to visit around the time of Oktoberfest. A stay in town is worth arranging, since most of the hotels are within walking distance of dining, shopping and festival activities. Guests can stay in accommodations that feature colorful exteriors and gingerbread trim, keeping with the theme and mood of the occasion. The Castle Inn (castleinn-helen.com) is one such place. The inn has a Bavarian-style exterior and offers rooms with river or mountain views. The Troll Tavern has live entertainment and on-site dining - indoors or outside alongside the Chattahoochee River. The Alpine Village Inn (helen-ga.net) is an Alpine-style lodge across from the Festhalle for those looking for easy access to the festivities.
Attend a Performance
Music is a highlight of Oktoberfest, which features performances by German and Austrian bands in traditional clothing. The 2011 lineup included bands such as the Sauerkrauts and Dan Witucki's Heimatland Musikanten. The Stratton Mountain Boys are known for their carved wooden instruments, musical saws and alphorns. They perform shoe slapping dances and Polka music. The band AlpenMusikanten features folk instruments and yodeling. Guests can participate in group dances and Polka dancing. Nacoochee Village also offers live music from its Rivermist Concert Series (nacoocheevillage.com) during a portion of Oktoberfest.