Looking for family-friendly things to do to pair with your North Georgia vacation in October? Plan to attend the one-of-a-kind Gold Rush Days Festival in Dahlonega, GA, only 65 miles north of Atlanta. Kid-friendly activities, like gold mining, plus a cool parade, 100s of art and craft exhibits, and classic fair food make this festival a hit every year (since 1954). It’s always held in Dahlonega Square on the third weekend of October, which is a fantastic time to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains — as the leaves begin to decorate the landscape with vibrant colors!
In fact, this North Georgia event has been voted one of the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. Not to mention, this mountain festival acts as a fundraiser for Lumpkin County residents and local businesses in need. With such popularity, the Gold Rush Days Festival in downtown Dahlonega typically receives 200,000+ festival-goers by the weekend’s end!
Kicking off this fall festival in Dahlonega is the fun parade on Saturday! The annual parade starts at the Sheriff’s Department in town and ends at the University of North Georgia drill field, so be sure to get there early (around 1:00-1:30 p.m.) to nab a good spot.
See characters and pageant winners waving on floats. Watch and cheer as local marching bands make their way past. Get ready to snap a quick selfie when show cars and hot rods ride by. Ooh and aah as horses trot down the street. And oh-so-much more at Gold Rush Days!
King & Queen of Gold Rush Days
Nominated by community members, friends, and family, the Gold Rush Days king and queen are chosen each year to honor those whom the townspeople have looked up to over the decades. Contestants must be 60+ years of age and reside in Lumpkin County to be considered for nomination.
Announcing the king and queen of the fall festival is a neat local tradition to witness, and it dates back to 1954! The lucky winners receive plaques, ribbons, flowers, and of course, royal crowns!
200+ Art & Craft Exhibits
Local crafters and artists showcase their unique talents and creations, such as jewelry, paintings, pottery, quilts, toys, and woodworks, at the Dahlonega Gold Rush Days Festival. There are also kid-friendly activities, like face painting, gold panning, and Georgia gem mining!
Note: Commemorative T-shirts help support the Empty Stocking Fund which helps local families in need for the Christmas season, providing toys, toiletries, and food.
Beats & Eats
FREE entertainment is always a plus on your North Georgia vacation. Gold Rush Days features live music and performances from local Appalachian artists on stage to keep everyone entertained and upbeat in the town square.
Of course, to enjoy the festivities to the fullest, you’ll need to refuel from time to time as well. And there are plenty of food vendors to choose from! Grab snacks at carts or opt for a full meal at a food booth, featuring classic fair food and Southern treats.
What Inspired Gold Rush Dahlonega?
Well, it’s actually based on the real Dahlonega gold rush in 1828 — considered America’s first gold rush — and commemorates the city’s discovery of gold! Back in those days, gold rushes were quite a big deal, so the festival is a unique way to remember this special Georgia gold rush and party in the North Georgia Mountains.
Dahlonega Gold Museum
Filled with neat artifacts, genuine gold nuggets, and a jewel-centric gift shop, consider adding the Dahlonega Gold Museum to your list of fun things to do while in town!
Festival Dates & Details
October 21-22, 2023 (Saturday & Sunday)
9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (each day of the event)
Dahlonega, GA 30533
Where to Stay
Our North Georgia cabins keep you near Dahlonega and offer a comfortable and relaxing place to stay in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Stay at a 1-bedroom cabin with your partner or share a large group cabin with family and friends. If you have fur babies, we offer pet-friendly vacation rentals of all shapes and sizes. Cabin rental amenities are entertaining and offer more ways to have fun and make memories together on your North Georgia vacation!
- Admire mountain views from a rocking chair while sipping a cup of coffee every morning.
- Take a dip in the steamy hot tub to soothe tired muscles after walking around the festival all day.
- Watch DVDs/Blu-rays on a big screen TV while curled up next to the roaring fireplace.
- Open a good book to read in your king-size bed before drifting to dreamland in the mountains.
- Wake up to morning hues dancing on the river and fix breakfast in the fully equipped kitchen.
- Play in the game room with a pool table, air hockey table, foosball table, shuffleboard table, or arcade games.
- Roast marshmallows and chat for hours around the blazing firepit after wining and dining at Frogtown Cellars.
- Tap into the FREE high speed Wi-Fi to post photos and videos from the Gold Rush Days Festival.
You can also opt for an outdoor lounge with a fireplace and TV, yard games, a wet bar, a washer and dryer, and/or a grill. Many of our cabins are semi-private and feature easy driveways to make traveling in the mountains easier for YOU.
Book YOUR North Georgia cabin experience today and plan to attend the annual Gold Rush Days Festival in nearby Dahlonega!