Oktoberfest in Helen

Photograph courtesy of Helen/White County CVB

September 11-November 2
90 miles from Atlanta

What it is A six-week festival in a logging town that reinvented itself as a Bavarian village in the 1960s. Now in its forty-fifth year, the event attracts around 50,000 annual visitors.

Why I go “Any of the regulars will fully admit that it’s fake, but it’s so charming that you kind of forget that when you drive into town. There’s this tight curve on the road, just south of town—you can look out over the village with its little spires. It’s so picturesque. If you’ve been to Bavaria and seen the little towns, it just brings back memories.” —Josef Henschen, a thirty-something engineer with Newcomb & Boyd, who dons his lederhosen and goes every year with his wife and friends

What’s to love Multigenerational revelers, beers from Germany, sausage and huge pretzels, German bands playing oompah music or polka versions of pop tunes (Henschen recently heard “Call Me Maybe”).

Insider tip The main festhalle doesn’t open until 1 p.m., but arrive before 10:30 a.m. or get stuck in traffic, advises Henschen.

Where to stay The Helendorf. Bavarian decor on the outside, North Georgia country-cozy on the inside—
located on the Chattahoochee River, right next to the festhalle.

Where to eat Get your schnitzel on
at Bodensee Restaurant; pastries at Hofer’s bakery.

What to do Go tubing, visit Unicoi State Park, shop for Bavarian imports (cuckoo clocks!) or tacky souvenirs, do the polka.

This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.