My husband and I lived in Savannah for a year from June 2014 to June 2015. It was wonderful as we lived in the Downtown Victorian District of Savannah and were able to see and do everything within a couple of miles of our home. We experienced every event and holiday that year and have quite a few insider tips for anyone visiting this historic city.
St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in Savannah. The kids have a school holiday (when it’s a weekday) and the city and surrounding area come to celebrate for several days. They plan this event all year and it is said to be the 2nd largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, second only to New York City.
Here are a few things you should know before heading to this event.
#1 It’s NOT just a parade!
There are many events planned for an entire long weekend surrounding St. Patrick’s Day. The festivities always begin the night before with a special ceremony honoring the military, called the Jasper Green Ceremony. This event is Thursday night at 5:00 pm in Madison Square.
They also have a fun run called the Top of the Mornin’ Run at 6:30 am that follows the parade route.
The main event starts the morning of St. Patrick’s Day with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade at 10:15 am. There are hundreds of groups and over 10,000 people who participate in the parade. They say it goes till 2:30 pm, which sounds like an exaggeration, but it is true it really does go that long!
The festivities continue that night and throughout the weekend with the St. Patrick’s Day Festival on River Street and in City Market. This festival includes live music, dancing, food & drinks and vendors till midnight each night!
For additional events before and after the parade check out the Savannah.com website for a list.
#2 Where to Watch the Parade
You can check out the Parade Route Map and see the many areas to watch the parade from.
To catch the parade from the areas closer to the Savannah River, where all the action is, I highly recommend getting there bright and early to claim your spot. But, you will also be waiting quite a long time as this is closer to the end of the parade route. The most crowded areas will be along Bay Street and on Bull Street.
There is also Bleacher Seating available in certain areas, but it will cost between $30 to $45 per person!
If you’d like a more relaxed viewing spot and be able to see the parade earlier in the route, then I recommend you claim a spot on Abercorn Street closer to the Forsyth Park end. You’ll still want to get there a little early, especially if you bring chairs, but it won’t be nearly as crowded or raucous.
#3 Staying in Savannah
Be prepared to be over charged a bit on a holiday weekend. If staying in Downtown Savannah, I recommend checking out either Airbnb or HomeAway for apartments and condos to rent out for the weekend. This will allow you to be in walking distance of all festivities.
If this is too pricey for you, consider staying either in the surrounding Chatham County area or Pooler, Georgia. There are St. Patrick’s Day shuttles from both of these areas. The Chatham Area Transit (Catch a CAT) offers a $5 round trip shuttle from locations on the East, West and Southside. The Pooler Area Shuttle provides their service for $20/adult, $10/child and $15/military personnel and is serviced through Kelly Tours.
#4 Where to Park?
Parking can prove quite difficult in Downtown Savannah. Savannah is a very walkable city, so I highly recommend that you find a free spot out of the way and keep your car there until you leave the city.
If staying in the city for the weekend and the only parking available is the street, please be aware of Savannah’s parking rules and signs posted.
Firstly, throughout the year, they perform street sweeping and you have to have your vehicle off the street between certain times each week. When we lived in Savannah, on Friday night of each week, I had to move my car to the opposite side of the street. If your car remains unmoved during these posted times, you will be ticketed or even towed!
Secondly, during the preparations for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, they will use many streets for holding of the floats and groups until the parade starts. The street we lived on, East Duffy Street, was one of these streets. We had to move our vehicles away from the Parade Prep area for the day of the parade. You can check out street closings HERE. On the bright side, we were able to watch the floats set up.
If you bring your car into Savannah for the day you’ll end of paying up to $25 per vehicle for a spot. There are a few Downtown Savannah Parking garages and lots available that day.
#5 Drinking Alcohol
Generally, Savannah has an Open Container Law that allows for people to roam the area with open containers of alcohol. This is not typical in most areas and is why pub crawls are so popular there. But, to keep people in check and possibly to bank in on the vast amounts of alcohol they expect to be consumed during holidays like New Years Eve, Fourth of July and of course, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival, there are additional rules in place during these holidays.
During the Festival you will be required to purchase a $10 wristband each day that will serve as your ID and permit to drink alcohol in an open container outdoors. You will not get a wristband without an ID, so make sure you bring it along if you plan on drinking! You can check out the Wristband page for more information.
#6 Greening of the Fountain
Make sure you check out the green water in the Forsyth Fountain only seen during the St. Patrick’s Day Festival! If you are interested in seeing the Greening of the Fountain, it takes place the week before on March 10th.
#7 Kevin Barry’s Pub
If you are in Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day and want an authentic Irish experience, then go check out Kevin Barry’s Pub on River Street. You can enjoy Irish food and amazing live Irish music. You must be 21 or older to get in after 7:00 pm and there is a $2 cover charge after 8:00 pm.
Enjoy the holiday, wherever you may find yourself this St. Patty’s Day!