A Guide to St. Patrick's Day Celebrations in Savannah, with videos

St. Patrick's Day in Savannah

Can you all believe that lil’ ol’ Savannah, Georgia hosts the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the whole United States?? That’s right! The city is swamped with almost half a million visitors every March 17th, plus all the locals. That’s a heap o’ honorary Irishmen! Savannah’s been doing this since 1813, so they’ve had almost two centuries to get it right. If you don’t mind crowds and crave something different, this is for you. If you’ve never been to Savannah before, and you're planning to visit Savannah, I suggest you read all my Savannah hubs before making the trip. I used to live near this beautiful city, and I can offer you lots of advice and tips. The links to the articles are found below this one.

St. Patrick's Day in Savannah - River Street.
St. Patrick's Day in Savannah - River Street.
Attend St. Patrick's Day mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Attend St. Patrick's Day mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

What's so special about Savannah's St. Patrick's Day?

So what all goes on in the fair Savannah to commemorate the patron saint of Ireland? Lots of things! For one, the famous fountain in Forsyth Park begins to spout green water several days in advance of the all-important day. Then, on the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, the Tara Feis Irish Celebration is held at Emmet Park, on East Bay Street. This is a kid-friendly even that features Irish music, Irish foods, Irish dancing, Irish games, and Irish arts and crafts. Sample some authentic cuisine while you’re enjoying the live entertainment!

A couple of days before St. Patrick’s Day and on St. Paddy’s Day itself, River Street is one big Irish party! Basically, this strip of bars, art galleries, antique stores, gift shops, dance clubs, restaurants, and boutiques is party central on any given weekend, but during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, it’s totally crazy! If you’re not into zany crowds, better sit this one out. People show up in wild costumes, looking for fun. River Street and the nearby lanes are filled with the sounds of all kinds of music – Celtic, rock, country, pop – you name it! There’s also all kinds of food available, along with games, contests, and street vendors. The green beer, wine, and wonderful frozen drinks flow freely, but you need to be at least 21 to partake. Show your ID, and you’ll get an armband. Seriously, this madness is a lot like Mardi Gras in New Orleans!

Party hard on River Street on the 16th, then get up the next morning and attend the eight a.m. mass at the oldest Roman Catholic church in Georgia – the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It’s located just off Lafayette Square. It’s a gorgeous building, with vaulted Gothic arches, spires, more than fifty Austrian stained-glass windows, and hand-painted murals.

After mass, head on over to the parade route. Forget about finding a parking place anywhere near the fun. Hopefully, you’ve booked a room nearby so that you can walk to all the activities. Savannah’s parade is the second-largest in the nation. What can you expect to see in the parade? Jesters, drum and fife bands, marching bagpipes bands, floats, step dancers, Irish societies, soldiers, balloons, costumed characters, local dignitaries, brass marching bands, color guards, dance troops, racecars, horses, leprechauns, beauty queens, flags, pirates, pirate ships on wheels, and antique cars.

The parade route sometimes changes slightly from year to year, but it usually begins on Abercorn Street, near Forsyth Park. It runs down Abercorn to Bay Street, then up Bull Street past Johnson Square, Wright Square, and Chippewa Square. It ends between Liberty and Charleston Streets.

If you don’t have a room downtown near the parade route, park at the Oglethorpe Mall. There’s a shuttle that will take you downtown and return you to the mall after the parade is over. You can also park at one of the parking garages or at the Visitor Information Center, which is on MLK Boulevard. You can watch the parade from one of the squares on the route, and you can bring along a cooler and a camp chair, but get there early – like three hours early!

After the parade is over, head over to City Market, a trendy spot for dining, snacking, shopping, art, history, and drinking, made up of four blocks. City Market is located between Bay Street and Broughton Street. On St. Patrick’s Day, outdoor booths and vendors will be selling all kinds of things: food, drinks, souvenirs, etc. There will also be live entertainment, and there’s no admission charged. Grab a bite to eat and hang out for a while!

If you still have any energy left, head back to River Street for more fun and excitement, but leave behind your cooler, your kids, and family pooch. It’s closed to vehicle traffic on St. Paddy’s Day, and the bars and restaurants stay open until three a.m.! Enjoy the live music, the food, and the folks. In my opinion, nighttime is the best time to enjoy River Street. The Savannah River runs adjacent to the street, and the dark water reflects all the lights from the businesses. Boats, yachts, and old fashioned riverboats travel up and down the river, and some are festooned with St. Patrick’s Day decorations.

Savannah - City Market
Savannah - City Market

What will people be wearing?

 

You’ll see people in shorts, jeans, tee shirts, suits and ties, sundresses, capris, and dressy dresses. Of course, it will be a sea of green. I strongly recommend wearing comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, and parts of River Street are paved with large cobblestones. High heels won’t work!

Just about anything else goes: shamrock antennae, green derbies, wild sunglasses, green hair, green wigs, painted faces – you get the picture.

Also, although the celebration here is often compared to Mardi Gras, nudity is not allowed. Don’t flash someone for a string or two of beads – you’ll get a lot more than you bargained for, and it won’t be pleasant.

What will the weather be like?

 

Savannah weather in mid-March is like the rest of South Georgia weather – unpredictable, except in summer. On March 17th, it’s usually spring-like, with daytime temperatures in the seventies. On the other hand, it might be in the eighties, or it could even be raining and in the fifties.

My advice is to go prepared. Even on warm days, the early mornings might have a bit of a nip. Wear a lightweight jacket or windbreaker that you can shed after lunch when it warms up. You can always tie the jacket around your waist.

Savannah lodging – Savannah hotels, Savannah bed-and-breakfast inns

There are several great hotels, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts in downtown Savannah near all the celebrations. My favorite is the Hyatt Regency. Take the elevator down, and you’ll wind up slap-dab on River Street. Other lodgings on or very near River Street include River Street Inn, the Mulberry Inn, the Hampton Inn, the Ballastone Inn, the Doubletree Hotel, Staybridge Suites, The Marshall House, East Bay Inn, Olde Harbour Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Country Inn and Suites, Quality Inn Heart of Savannah, the Hilton Savannah DeSoto, the Bohemian Hotel, Springhill Suites, Best Western Promenade, Planters Inn, and Days Inn at Ellis Square.

The Savannah Marriott Riverfront is across the river from River Street, but there’s a convenient walkway that crosses the river.

My favorite Savannah hotel - the Savannah Hyatt Regency
My favorite Savannah hotel - the Savannah Hyatt Regency

When to make Savannah hotel reservations

If you’re planning a trip to Savannah to join in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, you need to book your room early. If you plan to stay in the Savannah "historic district, you’ll need to make reservations months in advance. In fact, some people make reservations for their accommodations a year in advance. Some Savannah hotels, however, won’t book that far in advance. If you can’t find a Savannah suite, or a hotel or a bed and breakfast in historic Savannah, try to get a room on the south side.

Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade

Savannah St. Patrick's Day - night on River Street

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Comments 35 comments

StormRyder 6 years ago

When I was younger my dad was stationed at Ft.Stewart and we spent almost every weekend in Savannah. We had so much fun down on River Street and walking the squares...then off to Tybee Island..St.Pattys day was crazy down there on River Street..good times!!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

That is something interesting I have learned there, thank you.


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

WOW, habee you are on a roll! And you are giving the Irish a run for the money in Savannah! The pictures and videos are great! I never realized people celebrated St. Patrick’s Day so vigorously! Thanks for the heads up! Now I'll be more than sure to at least wear green this year!


Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 6 years ago from Georgia

Habee, you did a wonderful job with this. You really depicted Saint Patricks day in Savannah extremely well. I must say though, that the traffic can get so congested due to all the visitors and activities - just looking at the crowd makes me claustiphobic - If I'm correct, Saint Patricks Day probably brings in the most revenue for Savannah than any other holiday or festivity. You were so right about how crazy things can get during this time. You know we southerners are already colorful as is, but during this time, that increase tenfold. :)


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

Habee- I've marched in the parade, (Both as a soldier and a legionnaire) also delivered the mail through it (talk about Overtime!!) it is a magnificent event well done! and gets better every year, I would say to all who read this you all come on Down and have some fun!!


shareitt profile image

shareitt 6 years ago

I'm planning my party now and you have some great ideas. Thanks!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

I have always wanted to visit Savannah. Great hub, you have encouraged me to pack my bags!


Isabelle22 profile image

Isabelle22 6 years ago from Somewhere on the coastline

You write so well Habee, this was an awesome read. Cheers!


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub Habee. This is one of the places that I would like to visit. My sister went a couple of years ago and she loved it.


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

this does not surprise me. Savannah is a very eclectic city and now you have made me want to visit there even more than I did before.


ehern33 profile image

ehern33 6 years ago

I have to catch up reading all your recent hubs. I can't keep up with you. Funny I noticed in one of the videos a CVS pharmacy right where the celebration is being held. May need it with all that green beer being consumed.


Ladybird33 profile image

Ladybird33 6 years ago from Georgia USA

I am working on my party and I learned a lot from this hub. Thanks habee, I learned great tips and history, best of both worlds!


Carol the Writer profile image

Carol the Writer 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

The second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States? I never heard of it. May go there sometime. Thanks!


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

man, yeah, that's a party!!! :-)


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Storm, I used to go to Savannah frequently when I lived an hour away. Love it!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

HH, you would love Savannah!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I guess I'm in an Irish mood, Ann! lol


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

thanks, Veronica. I don't think I'd want to live in Savannah during the celebration!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Glad you enjoyed the hub, Shareitt!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

John, where ya been??


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Pack 'em, Bpop! I'll meet you there!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Isabelle! What a nice comment!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Nancy, you'd love it, too!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Lockerman, we should meet there one weekend!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Ehern, great point about the drug store!!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Ladybird. Glad you enjoyed!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Yep! It's HUGE, Carol!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Oh, it's a party allright, Chris! Ever been?


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

A bit of the blarney eh. Nice Hub


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Sounds delightful - I could use a green beer and stroll the streets in shorts and tees as I'm sure even by March 17th, we'll still be freezing our green fannies off here in Siberia/Central Oregon - but who knows? The way the weather goes this year we could be in a heat wave! You have great hubs - geez - that sounded a little weird after I wrote it but oh well....top o'the afternoon to you and all things Irish!


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Another nice Hub.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm full of blarney, Ethel!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for your kind words, Audrey!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for reading, Sandy!


Ramona 5 years ago

Great post! One of our favorite Savannah hotels is River Street Inn. It's right on the river and central to all sorts of shopping and dining!

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