Ready to experience a Christmas in Savannah filled with holiday cheer? Read on!
Christmastime Savannah is an impossibly beautiful city with its twenty-two squares tastefully adorned with twinkling lights, dazzling décor, tree-lined avenues, and a river.
This Southern city has enough festive cheer to make even the most skeptical visitor get into the Christmas swing of things.
Savannah is Americaˈs best walking city, which means you can enjoy the feast of Christmas lights and decorations at your leisure.
This guide lists the best Christmas activities in Savannah, including eating and drinking (hot cocoa, anyone?), a giant Christmas tree, holiday parades, and streets decked with garlands.
Savannah would even have impressed Ebenezer Scrooge!
21 Christmassy Ways To Celebrate Christmas in Savannah, Georgia
Here are our favorite things to do in the Hostess City of the South during Christmas. Ready to get in the holiday spirit?
1. Take A Walk Through the Historic District
Savannah has many seductive charms, with its Historic District the one that will cause even the weariest of travelers to succumb to its appeal.
The district is 2,5 square miles big and has 22 squares and more than 1,000 beautifully restored colonial homes and commercial buildings.
The city has wide streets, and the three- or four-story buildings and tree canopies provide a sense of scale.
The Historic Districtˈs homes, flickering gas lanterns, and giant Southern oak trees covered in hanging moss are the perfect backdrop for vibrant Christmas decorations.
It is common for striking historic homes to be decorated with green garlands and red bows, with candles in their windows.
The weather is mild in December, with snow only falling every ten years on average. You will be able to stroll through the district in comfort.
2. Celebrate On An Old Town Trolley – One Of The Best Things To Do In Savannah At Christmas
Take a two-hour Old Town Trolleyˈs Holiday Lights and Sights tour. You will have elves instead of conductors and will be amused by tales of favorite holiday traditions.
The tour begins and ends at the Old Town Trolley Depot at MLK Junior Boulevard. Stops include the Davenport House Museum and the Plant Riverside District.
There is also the promise of special Christmas treats at the Massie Heritage Center at the end of the tour.
Tickets are available online. Please note that reservations are required.
3. Marvel At Savannah’s Most Beautiful Squares
Savannah is best known for its beautiful city squares. Most of the squares contain a least one feature in the center.
These include monuments, statues, fountains, and gazebos. All the squares have benches and shade trees.
Georgia’s founder, James Oglethorpe, laid out the city around 24 squares. Today 22 squares remain and are very much used and beloved by residents and visitors, essentially public “living rooms.”
The squares listed below are beautiful and decked out in their classic Christmas finery and positively beguiling.
- Monterey Square. Often called the prettiest square in Savannah. One of Monterey Square’s historic buildings is the Mercer-Williams House, central to the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
- Chippewa Square. This square is featured in the movie Forest Gump. It has a striking statue of James Oglethorpe, the regal colony founder.
- Greene Square. This lovely square is surrounded by charming houses and has plenty of green space.
- Washington Square. Just off the square is “Rainbow Row,” a collection of fetching Carpenter Italianate-style homes. Each of these homes features Victorian-era details.
- Madison Square. The square boasts a ton of history and even some rumored hauntings. But there are many good restaurants and shops here as well.
- Johnson Square is the city’s first square. In the center is the Nathanial Greene Monument. The square also has a golden sundial.
- Ellis Square. One of the original four squares, dating from 1733. Later the city turned it into a parking garage, but this was torn down in 2007. The new Ellis Square opened in March of 2010 and is immediately west of City Market.
4. Revel At Savannah’s “Holiday Event Central”
City Market is an open-air market spanning two blocks in the Historic District, with a Christmas tree in the center of each block.
The market is a popular tourist spot and boasts many restaurants, bars, and shops.
You will be serenaded with Christmas melodies while you stroll in the flickering light of the more than 500 luminarias lining the courtyard spreading holiday cheer.
5. Take The Kids To A Market Especially For Them
The Christmas market for kids in the City Market offers excellent fun activities. There are ornaments to be made, cookies to be decorated, and photo opportunities with Santa Claus.
The best is that kids can also get Grinched here with hair and make-up to look like the real Dr. Seuss deal!
6. Sneak Past Large Nutcrackers At The Savannah Candy Kitchen
Because it’s Christmas in Savannah, you should absolutely give in to your sweet craving and try the delicious candy and cakes at the Savannah Candy Kitchen.
You will find delicacies like Pecan Pralines, hand-dipped caramel chocolate apples, and turtle gophers made with Georgia pecans, caramel, and milk or dark chocolate. It doesn’t get better than this.
Savannah Candy Kitchen on East River Street has two large nutcrackers standing guard at its entrance during the holidays.
7. Take Part In A Christmas Tradition At the Savannah Theatre
A Savannah Christmas is not the same without visiting the theatre to watch “A Christmas Tradition.” This high-energy two-hour performance brings well-loved Christmas standards to life.
The show features excellent musicians, a dancing Santa and his dancing reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and funny skits.
“A Christmas Tradition” is perfect family-friendly entertainment for this magical time of year.
Audience participation is encouraged, so you may want to leave any inhibitions at home! It is guaranteed to be great fun.
The theatre is located on Chippewa Square and was built in 1818. Over time it has been damaged by storms and fires but has been fully renovated.
It now sports an art-deco façade and state-of-the-art sound and lighting.
8. Delight in the Colorful Lighted Christmas Parade
One of the best Christmas activities in Savannah to attend is the Lighted Christmas Parade early in December.
It kicks off with the official arrival of St. Nick, an event that surely can’t be missed!
The parade starts in River Street West, continues to the east, winds its way downtown, and ends at the City Market.
This lively parade consists of vibrant floats, vintage cars, and walking groups.
9. Watch The Lighting Of The Official Savannah Christmas Tree
Savannah rings in the season by lighting the towering Christmas tree set up at the intersection of Broughton and Bull Streets.
There is singing, storytelling, live music, and Christmas celebrations before, during, and after the lighting ceremony.
The lighting is a free event.
10. Shop In A Chic Boutique With An Exceptional Holiday Display
The boutique store, The Paris Market, goes all out with its Christmas window decorations. It has an elaborate window display to celebrate the holiday season.
The tasteful display changes every year.
The store is housed in a Victorian building dating from 1874.
The Paris Market is also a treasure trove of exclusive holiday gifts which promise to make your Christmas shopping a pleasure.
On offer is everything from jewelry, French-milled soaps, men’s grooming, fragrance, kitchen tools, and gifts for children.
11. Get Nostalgic During A Candlelight Tour
The Davenport House Museum is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Landmarks and has been restored to its original 19th-century glory.
Evening candlelight tours will give you a glimpse of a time long ago when the world was different.
You will tour the house’s lavish restored rooms and see how the family would have prepared for Christmas and New Yearˈs Day celebrations two hundred years ago.
The Candlelight Tour lasts about an hour, and reservations are encouraged.
12. Take Holiday Snaps Of A Savannah Christmas In Forsyth Park
Forsyth Park is the perfect location to take your Christmas pictures. The decorations go up the first weekend in December.
The park is known for the splendid Parisian-style fountain at the north end and the live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
It is even more beautiful At Christmastime with festive wreaths, bright bows, and garlands.
After taking pictures, head to one of the good restaurants in the vicinity. The park also has a café.
13. Wander Down The Prettiest Street In America
Jones Street is one of the loveliest streets in America, if not actually the loveliest one. It is lined with high-stooped mid-19th-century homes and impressively arching live oaks.
The western half of the street is still paved with its original red vitrified bricks.
Many historic houses on this 1-mile-long street have small garden-level front porches and are decorated with classic decorations. Nothing tacky here!
The street is near many of the city’s other sights and attractions and is easy to get to on foot.
14. Have Yourself a Merry Little Savannah Christmas
The lampposts on River Street are covered in red ribbons and greenery.
This bustling street also adds to Savannah’s reputation as a walking city. It offers a pleasant promenade and panoramic views of the Savannah River.
You will also see the festively decorated riverboat, the Georgia Queen, which will make you feel like you don’t want to be anywhere else for Christmas.
Much of the street is paved with cobblestones that once served as ballast in sailing ships. River Street has plenty of hotels, bars, and restaurants where you can celebrate the season.
15. Get Transported To Dickensian Times
Novelist Charles Dickens did not revive Christmas, but he certainly aided it. A Christmas Carol was a hit, published on December 19, 1843, and forever tied Charles Dickens to the season.
It is also quite fitting that the novel, filled with ghosts, is linked to the haunted city of Savannah.
Take a guided tour through Savannah, led by guides in their Victorian finery, and hear heart-warming tales of Savannah’s earliest Christmas traditions, including how “Jingle Bells” was written. (Relax, there’s not a ghost in sight on this tour!)
16. Find Peace And Joy In Christmas Music
The Savannah Philharmonics contributes to the season being the most wonderful time of the year.
It has a full orchestra, an auditioned chorus of amateur singers, soloists, and special guests, and its mission is to entertain and build the Savannah community.
The SavPhil, as it is affectionately known, has special concerts lined up for Christmas. Tickets usually go fast, so donˈt delay in getting yours.
17. Get To A Rooftop Bar To Watch The Boat Parade of Lights
Savannah kicks off the holiday season in November with the Harbor Boat Parade of Lights.
The parade features over forty boats, all decked out in their finest holiday decorations, with giant balloons, holiday characters on board, and colorful lights.
You can line up along the river to watch the parade or, if you prefer to, stay warm from a rooftop bar along the riverfront.
There’s often a breeze blowing in from the river, and sometimes the area feels slightly chillier.
Celebrations start at 7 p.m. and culminate in a fireworks show.
The boat parade is just one event on the hotel’s festive holiday lineup, including a tree-lighting ceremony, Savannah Pipe and Drum Band performances, and the largest Gingerbread Village display in town.
18. Cruise Down The Savannah River On Christmas Eve
The tidal Savannah River is a major river in the southeastern United States. It is 300 miles long, and many vessels can be seen on it.
Some are riverboats hosting cruises and cocktails, and others are freight ships carrying thousands of tonnes of goods.
One of the popular Christmas activities in Savannah is taking a cruise on the river. Look out for special events like the “Sailing with Santa” charity cruise during this time.
The Georgia Queen is a 1,000-passenger riverboat that offers Christmas Eve lunch and dinner cruises. You will enjoy a delicious holiday buffet and entertainment while you cruise the Savannah River.
The Georgia Queen is handicapped-accessible and is outfitted with a passenger elevator and handicapped-accessible restrooms.
19. Revel On the River At The Plant Riverside District
This district, with the slogan “Revel on the River,” is newly developed and at the west end of River Street.
It is well-known as an entertainment and nightlife hub with many restaurants, lounges, and shops.
The district boasts a holiday market similar to the European Christmas markets, although on a much smaller scale.
The lighted displays here are not as understated as in the Historic District. The Christmas trees have bright blue LED lights, and the fountains resemble mini-Vegas lighting displays.
20. Celebrate Christmas in Savannah On Tybee Island
Tybee Island is only 18 miles from downtown Savannah and has more than 40 restaurants that serve seafood, island cuisine, and southern favorites (think gumbo, grits, and fried shrimp).
Another reason to visit Tybee in December is the unique Christmas events hosted here.
Everyone is invited to participate in the annual Tybee Island Tour de Lights Christmas parade. All that is required is to dress your bicycle or golf cart in holiday finery and have fun.
During the nighttime Christmas Parade of Lights, Santa is led by a parade of twinkling lights down to the beach.
The island also has a Christmas tree lighting ceremony made even more joyful by dancing, caroling, and enjoying holiday treats.
21. Reflect In The Cathedral Of St. John The Baptist
The cathedral, with its beautiful vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, and hand-painted frescos, rivals many European cathedrals.
It is quiet and peaceful and the perfect place to reflect on Christmas.
The large columns are decorated with wreaths hung by church members, and the pews are usually decorated with greenery.
Another treat is the beautiful red trees made of poinsettias that adorn the church during the season.
Visit the cathedralˈs website for information on musical events where choir members sing seasonal favorites.
Final Words on Christmas in Savannah
Savannah’s Southern charm never disappoints and is even more seductive over Christmas. There are many attractions to visit and events to attend.
If you don’t like joining formal tours, you can spend hours strolling through the city’s Historic District or near its river.
You can watch parades go by or attend Mass in a beautiful cathedral. A Savannah Christmas is not one you will forget easily.
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