Ein Prosit! Your Guide to Oktoberfest

(Image credit: @floridadonny)

Oktoberfest is an annual festival in Munich, Germany, held over a 2-week period in September and ending on the first Sunday in October. 

The festival’s origins can be traced back to October 12, 1810, in celebration of a marriage between the Crown Prince of Bavaria (who became King Louis I) to Princes Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  Royal weddings have always been over the top, and this festival concluded with a horse race.  In 1811, the horse race was combined with a state agricultural fair.  In 1818, booths serving food and drinks were introduced.

By the late 20th century, the food and drink booths had morphed into large beer halls complete with balconies and bandstands.  Each brewery in Munich erects a temporary structure, which can seat up to 6,000.  The festival in 2022 starts on September 17 and runs through October 1 in Munich. 

In Georgia, Helen’s Oktoberfest (one of the oldest in the nation) starts September 29th and runs through October 30th.  These celebrations, which feature beer and German food, try to reproduce the Bavarian sense of gemutlichkeit (cordiality).

The celebration is open to all ages.  Admission is $8 during the week and $10 on Saturdays (free admission on Sundays!).  Doors open at 6 pm throughout the week, and 1 pm on weekends.

You can plan to stay in Helen at The Heidi Motel or, if you’re planning on going with a group of friends or family, rent a cabin at nearby Unicoi State Park and work a short hike into your itinerary.

Start your food adventure with Hofer’s of Helen for Reuben sandwiches, made by Germans who immigrated to the town in the 1950s.  The Heidelberg German Restaurant and Hofbrauhaus are other options.  Please drink responsibly, and have a designated driver in your group.

There are other options for Oktoberfest in Georgia, including Oktoberfest Atlanta on September 30th as well as Gainesville’s first annual Oktoberfest at Smithgall Arts Center on October 1st.