Old Man Winter ushers in the holiday season in many places. In Savannah's temperate locale, it's an array of quintessential holiday events that signal the season's start. The entire town rolls out the red carpet for both locals and out-of-towners and invites one and all to come out and celebrate. These events are some of the timeless favorites. Go to VisitSavannah.com for more.
Hutchinson Island is the setting and The Westin the host for the 15th Annual Savannah Harbor Holiday Series. The hotel has pulled out all the stops in decorating the grounds and holiday-themed events add to the awe. So take in the jolly sights and sounds, stop at the ICEBAR and NORTH POOL for yummy treats and pop by the Gingerbread Village to take a gander at the edible creations.
When: Through December 12 (6:00pm-9:00pm, Thursday – Saturday)
December 16–December 25 (Open Daily 6:00pm -9:00pm)
Where: The Westin Savannah Harbor
Cost: $5 per person donation requested to support local charities
On select nights in December, Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens will be all lit up and decorated in varied themes. Among the magical sights that visitors will see on a walking tour are white reindeer nestled among timber bamboo entwined with glistening green lights, an enchanting allée of frosty white trees, blue Stars of David, white trumpeting angels, and a Nativity scene with a deep blue starry sky. Santa will be on hand for photos and Mrs. Claus' kitchen will serve up holiday goodies.
When: December 2–6, December 9-13, and December 16-24 (Time 6:00-9:00pm)
Where: Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens
Cost: $8/person (13 and older), $5/child (3-12 years), ages 2 and under FREE
$5 on Wednesday nights (ages 3 years and older)
For two weeks, the Jepson Center's soaring lobby will showcase a unique vignette—a pop-up exhibit of eight "rooms" lavishly decorated by local designers. The show kicks off with a cocktail party, plus two other ticketed weekend events—a luncheon and lecture on the 4th and an intimate soiree on the 5th where you can sip champagne and nibble croissants while chatting with designers.
When: December 3 – December 18
Where: Jepson Center for the Arts
Cost: Exhibit: Free of charge, Preview Party: $85 (Individual Patron tickets $150)
Lecture: $50, Lecture and Lunch: $75, Champagne and Croissants: $35
Take a walk off the beaten path on December 3 to browse and holiday shop at the cluster of locally owned boutiques and shops in Savannah's Downtown Design District. You'll find 30-plus merchants who offer everything from artwork and antiques to clothing and jewelry. Participating stores will each hold an open house, refreshments included, to show off their holiday spirit and gift ideas.
When: December 3, 5:00pm–9:00pm
Where: Downtown Design District, Whitaker Street
Savannah City Market helps spread holiday cheer with an open house that's an annual tradition. The refashioned warehouses of yesteryear that now house shops, eateries and galleries of today's City Market provide a befitting setting for paying Father Christmas a visit, sampling sundry treats and enjoying the lilting tunes of Yuletide carolers and the sparkling decorations and luminaria.
When: December 4, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Where: City Market
Each year for over a decade, the merchants of Wright Square have hosted an open house event that infuses shoppers with the holiday spirit. Expect to see Father Christmas who will arrive—Savannah style—in a horse-drawn carriage. Wright Square will be all decked out with lights, garland and bows. And as you merrily mosey from shop to shop, you'll be entertained by strolling musicians.
When: December 4, 5:00pm-9:00pm
Where: Wright Square
If you're looking for a holiday festival where you can also get a little gift shopping done, go to Christmas on the River. This multicultural annual event brings regional arts and crafts vendors to Rousakis Plaza, and an atmosphere of gaiety with performances by local musicians, singers and dance groups. It all leads up to the official arrival of St. Nick himself in a lighted Christmas parade.
When: December 5, 10:00am-7:30pm
Where: City Market
Youngsters and adults alike are bound to have a grand old time at City Market's holiday celebration for kids. Activities include face painting and cookie decorating, and children can try their hand at making ornaments that they get to take home. The holiday photo op is with Father Christmas in a "Cinderella Carriage" (provided by Carriage Tours of Savannah), and there's even a petting zoo.
When: December 5, 11:00am – 2:00pm
Where: City Market
Tybee Island gets into the holiday mood with a tree lighting ceremony and two parades (one with boats). At Lights on For Tybee on December 4, the mayor will light the town's Christmas tree. Then all who have gathered can sing along with a holiday choir on the walk to festivities at Carbo House, a National Historic Landmark. Santa and Mrs. Claus will drop by, and the next day they will ride their sleigh down Butler Avenue in the Christmas Parade. On December 6, lighted boats will brighten the night as they launch from the Crab Shack docks and slowly cruise by in a floating parade.
When: December 4 – December 6
Where: Tybee Island
Cost: All events are free
A treat for your ears, the Holiday Pops concert returns and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus will be joined by special guest I Cantori, Savannah's premier vocal choral ensemble, and soloists Harry O'Donoghue (Irish Entertainer) and Alexander Edgemon (ATC Gold Medal Winner). Also, the Family Matinee, which features Savannah Children's Choir, is back by popular demand.
When: December 11 and 12, 7:30pm
Family Matinee: December 12 at 3:00pm
Where: Lucas Theatre for the Arts
Cost: Tickets $16 - $75; Matinee: $25/family of 4; $10/individual
Now in its 41st year, the Holiday Tour of Homes lets you take a peek into some of Savannah's finest private residences at a time of year when they are all dressed up in festive finery. Eight grand homes in Savannah's Historic District will open their doors for guests to bask in their grandeur and beauty. The tour is self-guided, so explore at your own pace and in whatever order you choose.
When: December 12, Noon – 5:00pm
Where: Downtown Historic District
Fort Pulaski will once again observe the anniversary of the "Nog Party" of 1861. Soldiers occupying the fort at that time invited guests from Savannah to share delicacies, eggnog and good cheer. The celebration recreates the experience with tours of the fort by oil lamps and candlelight. And with caroling, cookies, hot cider, and historic weapons firing, you'll see what it was like to party in 1861.
When: December 18 and 19, 6:00pm-9:30pm
Where: Fort Pulaski National Monument (near Tybee Island)
Cost: $10/adult, $3/child (4-15 years old), children 3 and under FREE
For an active bit of holiday fun grab your athletic shoes and join the coterie of runners who come out each year to hoof the course at the Savannah Reindeer Run. This family-oriented 8K benefit for the Rape Crisis Center is in its 6th year and proceeds support prevention and education, especially against bullying. As well the 8K, there will be a FREE kiddie race and lots of after-race activities.
When: December 19 (Start time 9:00am)
Where: Hutchinson Island
Cost: $35 Registration fee through December 18; $40 on race day
$20 Youth registration (ages 12-17)
To get a glimpse of how elite Savannahians celebrated the holidays in the 19th century, visit the Davenport House Museum for an evening candlelight tour. The home is lovingly restored, and it still has some original period furnishings. Guests are shown around by docents in costumes of the era. Refreshments are served in the garden and the evening ends with a period dancing demonstration.
When: December 26 – December 30, 6:00pm – 8:30pm
Where: Davenport House Museum
Cost: Adults $10 in advance, $12 at time of tour
Children ages 6-18, $6 in advance, $8 at time of tour
As you might well imagine, the month and the year come to a close with much merriment in Savannah. See our blog post Welcoming the New Year in Savannah for a sampling of celebrations. And in case we don't have the opportunity to talk with you before the holidays are here, know that all of us at Live Love Savannah wish you a safe and happy holiday season!
photo credit: visitsavannah.com