15+ Ways Locals Celebrate the Holidays in Savannah

The holiday season in Savannah is spectacularly festive. With so many traditions, there is no shortage of fun in this southern city. Whether you’re looking to sit on Santa’s lap or check out a holiday show, we’ve got you covered!

Savannah Holly Days

Christmas_Tree_Savannah_Georgia
The large Savannah Christmas Tree sits between Broughton Street and Johnson Square.

Each year, the Savannah Holly Days take over Broughton Street and surrounding areas in downtown Savannah. Special events run throughout the holiday season from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Events include the Holiday Tree Lighting (which happens every November 25th), the Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree Concert Series (every Saturday from 3-6pm at the Christmas Tree), and the Eat. Shop. Be Merry. discount series (discount passes can be picked up at the tree and used at participating locations to shop and dine). See a full list of events by clicking here.

Savannah African Art Museum’s Kwanzaa Marketplace

Every Friday in December leading up to the start of Kwanzaa on December 26th, the Savannah African Art Museum will host a marketplace from 12-4pm featuring local and regional vendors selling art, jewelry, books and more. The event is free to attend and will happen on the second floor of the Terracotta Gallery. Learn more by clicking here.

Tybee Christmas Parade

Want to experience a truly coastal Christmas? The Tybee Christmas Parade is a night-time event to enhance the Christmas lights! On December 2nd at 6pm, line up along Butler Avenue to watch the festivities. The Tybee Christmas Parade starts at 6th Street and travels down to Tybrisa Street.

Savannah’s Christmas Market

On December 3rd, Savannah’s Christmas Market is happening at the Savannah Convention Center. The event, which features not Buddy the Elf, includes shopping from local vendors, yummy food, and the opportunity for kiddos to share their Christmas wish lists with Santa. The Savannah Christmas Market is free from 10am-4pm.

The Christmas Tradition – A Live Holiday Show Benefitting Shelter from the Rain

Shelter from the Rain is a 501(c)3 non-profit in Savannah that provides assistance to single mothers and children in need living in the area. Their annual fundraiser takes form in a special theatrical event hosted by the Savannah Theater. The show is called “The Christmas Tradition” and features broadway-style performances from talented Savannah natives and relocatees. This event is a Savannah favorite for the entire family!  Single parents and refugee families may RSVP for free. Find tickets for the December 4th, 7pm event, by clicking here.

African Symbols: Kwanzaa

This free workshop from the Savannah African Art Museum allows attendees to create their own Kwanzaa Banner for their home or for gifting. Attendees will need to reserve a spot for the event which takes place on Saturday, December 10, 2022 from 11am-1pm.

Savannah Christmas on the River & the Savannah Christmas Parade

From December 9th – December 11th at 4pm, visit the riverfront to find live musical performances, art and share in holiday cheer with Santa. Christmas on the River is extraordinary! The annual Christmas parade happens on December 10th at 5:30pm and will start on River Street and wind its way throughout downtown Savannah. From cars covered in lights to intricately designed floats, adults and kids alike will love watching the procession of Christmas fun.

Annual Reindeer Run

Calling all runners, grab your antlers and your red nose, and get ready to lead the pack. This 5k run/walk event includes festive costumes, candy canes for all, and even a kid’s festival with tunes, games, and delicious food. If you have any young runners, they can participate in the one-mile fun run/walk. This year the Reindeer Run returns for the first time since covid and will happen on Tybee Island. Both the 5k and one-mile fun run/walk start at 8am and end at noon. Registration closes on December 16th and can be found by clicking here.

Movie Night with the Savannah Philharmonic

If you love beautiful music then we’ve got the perfect holiday event for you. On Saturday, December 17th, 2022, catch the holiday classic Home Alone with a live performance at the Lucas Theater with a live performance from the Savannah Philharmonic at 7:30pm. The orchestra will accompany the movie playing composer John William’s score for a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. Find tickets here.

Christmas Festival at the Trustees’ Garden

Sledding_Trustees_Garden
Each year the Trustees Garden brings in snow for sledding down the hilltop.

From 3-10pm on December 17th, explore the ten acres of the Trustee’s Garden at the 3rd annual Trustees/ Garden at the Christmas Festival. This is a family-friendly holiday event. Kick off the day with photos at Santa’s North Pole and then enjoy food trucks, adult beverages, hot cocoa, shopping, and bouncy houses. The event favorite? It’s the snow. Yes, the snow! The Trustees’ Graden brings in a snow machine on the hilltop for a fun day of real sledding. Grab tickets here.

Hanukkah at Forsyth Park

The City of Savannah, Savannah Jewish Federation and the Chabad of Savannah team up each year to celebrate the start of Hanukkah with the lighting of a huge menorah by the Mayor. This year’s event is set to take place from 3-6pm at Forsyth Park on Sunday, December 18th. The celebration includes savory and sweet delicious Hanukkah foods and music!

Jingle Bell Pajama Party

Start the school holiday break off right…this one is for the kids! An event of the Savannah Holly Days, the Jingle Bell Pajama Party will happen at the corner of Bull and Broughton Street on Sunday, December 18, from 1-4p and feature pictures with Santa as well as various games and activities for the kids to participate in. No boredom here!

Davenport House Museum Candlelit Holiday Tours

A famous Savannah home, the Davenport House Museum opens its doors to tours by candlelight with historical guides. Light refreshments and holiday music are included with tickets. The tour takes place on several nights from December 26th to December 29th at 830pm each night.

Ice Skating at the Civic Center

Since Savannah rarely sees snow, ice skating at the Savannah Civic Center is a much anticipated seasonal tradition for all ages. Beginning on December 13th, this month-long annual event brings the cold inside for ice skating in the center’s arena. The a set schedule so be sure to check the available times before hitting the rink!

City Market’s Holiday Traditions

Savannah’s City Market is filled with holiday cheer and gifts to get you in the holiday spirit! Four blocks of retail shops and restaurants in the historic downtown neighborhood are decorated with holiday lights and garland for a quintessential Christmas experience. City Market during the holidays isn’t just an absolute must-see destination, it’s an experience.

Attend the City Market Holiday Open House on December 2nd from 4-8pm to shop and try to find Kris Kringle. Get the kids and join the Christmas Whoville Jubilation on December 11th from 1-4pm. Kids can become a Who for the day with full hair and makeup and watch a performance of How The Dancing Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden’s December Nights & Holiday Lights

December_Nights_Holiday_Lights_Coastal_Georgia_Botanical_Gardens
December Nights and Holiday Lights at the UGA Cooperative Extension’s Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens

Each year, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension turns its Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens into a magical walk-through of holiday lights and sights. Thousands of lights cover five acres of the gardens for a truly jaw-dropping spectacle that could make even the Grinch feel the holiday spirit. The festivities start Friday, November 25th and run on select nights through Saturday, December 24th. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

Holiday Pop-Up Bars and Adult Activities

If you’re interested in more adult experiences, there are DOZENS of holiday pop-up bars and experiences around downtown Savannah and the Starland District. In fact, there are too many to list here. You’ll find special seasonal drinks and activities at places like the Plant Riverside District and Eastern Wharf as well as bar crawls like “the 12 Bars of Christmas.” A quick search on Facebook and you’ll have too many options to choose from!

Events to Look Out for Next Year

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention our number one pick, which is already sold out! The 47th Annual Holiday Tour of Homes & Inns is a Savannah tradition for locals. The event allows ticketholders to tour inside the most beautifully architectured, furnished, and decorated homes located in downtown Savannah. We suggest searching for tickets early next year with the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Savannah, Ga.

Another notable event that’s already passed (but you should definitely attend in 2023) is the Savannah Boat Parade of Lights. Forty-plus boats decorated with holiday lights travel down the Savannah River and compete for first place! This event typically happens the last weekend in November or the first weekend in December. Keep an eye out for next year.