Gold Rush Festival- A Survival Guide

Cancelled for 2020. Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Festival happens every year the third weekend in October. The event is the largest festival of the year in Dahlonega and probably the largest festival in the North Georgia mountains. Ranked as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeastern Tourism Society, you should come and experience it at least once.

It has been estimated that over 200,000 people attend the event over the two day weekend so festival goers need to be aware of crowds. This article will provide tips on surviving the festival with all of those people. Come and enjoy the festival atmosphere and work around the crowds unless you like crowds.

The Gold Rush festival does not begin until Saturday morning but you will see evidence of the coming event if you travel downtown Friday afternoon and evening. The Historic Dahlonega square is blocked off with barricades to vehicular traffic Friday evening and the East-West streets are closed from the UNG campus near El Jimodor restaurant to Pueblos Restaurant on the other end. Then the 300 or more vendors move in to set up their booths that will be displaying and selling everything from art to jewelry to hand made furniture. Many festival food vendors will also be setting up to sell drinks, bratwurst, pork rinds, funnel cakes and more.

The Gold Rush Festival also has a great small town parade on Saturday from the Walmart intersection to the square with a grand marshall, festival king and queen. Check the timing if you’re there or plan on driving that way.

Timing is Everything

If you are staying with us for the festival weekend we recommend you enjoy dinner in Dahlonega Friday night before the Gold Rush festival begins. If the streets are blocked the parking areas around the square are a short walk away from the restaurants.

Saturday morning after eating your scrumptious breakfast at the inn plan to head to town by 10:00 am to check out the Gold Rush Festival before the afternoon crowds arrive. Finish up by noon or 1:00 pm and head out of town to one of the five wineries in the area that are mainly located north of town not too far from the inn. For lunch and/or dinner choose one of the wineries (see related blog post below) or the Riverside Tavern at Turners Corner north of the inn.

Getting back into downtown Dahlonega Saturday afternoon can mean a long wait in traffic – at least by our small town country standards. Make your plans accordingly.

Most of the waterfalls, hiking trails and wineries are north of town away from the Gold Rush traffic. These can keep you busy for the rest of your Saturday and Sunday as well. If you want to stop by the festival after breakfast to see if that special item you wanted on Saturday is still there, Sunday morning is a great time to head back to town. Crowds tend to be light until after 12:00 noon.

For more information visit

Dahlonega Wineries for Lunch (Frogtown and Montaluce also serve dinner)

For more information on other special events and festivals visit