The city of Savannah is warm and welcoming, genteel yet quirky, with beautiful historic homes on tree-lined streets and a happening riverfront district. While it’s great to visit any time of year, winter offers its own charms — and moderate temperatures to boot. Here are just a few of the experiences calling us to the coast in the off-season.
Savannah Food & Wine Festival
Held every November, this extensive culinary event brings together leading winemakers, sommeliers and celebrity chefs from around the Southeast. Whether you join for one of the many cooking demonstrations, a celebrity chef tour, the Jazz & Bubbles Brunch or the signature food and drink sampling event — Taste of Savannah — the festival is sure to delight all your senses. The entire festival is also a fundraiser for the Tiny House Project for Homeless Veterans.
Holiday Lights and Sights
It’s easy to get in the holiday spirit with the multitude of seasonal tours and events from late November through New Year’s. Get familiar with the city on Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Sights Tour, a trolley tour with a wintry twist, and listen to stories of Savannah’s favorite holiday traditions as you see the city’s historic highlights.
If you’re more into walking tours, check out Ye Olde Savannah Christmas Walk, led by costumed Victorian guides. Your stroll through Spanish-moss-draped squares includes tales of holidays past; the tour even visits the place where James L. Pierpont wrote “Jingle Bells.” Then take in A Christmas Tradition, a two-hour song-and-dance show at the iconic Savannah Theatre.
During the first week in December, the historic River Street waterfront district around Hotel Indigo Savannah comes to holiday life with Christmas on the River, culminating with the Lighted Christmas Parade (and “official arrival” of St. Nick) on Saturday night. All week long, Rousakis Plaza fills with arts and crafts exhibitors, live music and entertainment.
On the harbor, the Winter Wonderland Holiday Series is a family celebration with festive lights, Santa’s workshop, a gingerbread village and ice bar. A boat parade of lights rounds out the offerings.
Celebrations in the New Year
For a post-holiday getaway, the beginning of the year also brings its share of noteworthy events.
During the month of February, experience the Black Heritage Festival‘s long roster of cultural events, from performances and visual arts to crafts and cuisine, in venues all around the city.
March is a particularly popular time to visit, as Savannah puts on the nation’s second-largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, with more than 300,000 people attending the nearly 190-year-old event. After the parade, the celebration continues with a street festival with vendors and live music. Another big draw is Tara Feis, a free Irish festival that takes place the Saturday before the parade.
Late March also brings one of the city’s biggest events, the Savannah Music Festival. Two-and-a-half weeks of world-class musicians and performances draw artists and audiences from around the world and across every genre; think the Avett Brothers one night and a Cajun dance party the next.
Savannah’s temperate climate means you can enjoy the city’s regular activities in the winter months, too.
Near the top of that list: On the first Friday of nearly every month, the city stages a spectacular, free fireworks show over historic River Street. (The only exceptions are January and July, when special New Year’s Eve and Independence Day shows are held.) It’s easy to combine the fireworks with the First Friday Art March, a monthly celebration featuring local galleries, restaurants, boutiques and art spaces in the Starland District.
Another unique-to-Savannah cultural highlight is the Pin Point Heritage Museum south of downtown. Take in views of Lowcountry marshes as you explore the history of local Gullah/Geechee culture in this seafood-factory-turned-museum.