By Antoinette Bierman
Looking for the best place to spend your St. Patrick’s Day this year? Look no further than the quaint city of Savannah, Ga., which will transform itself into the host of the second largest party in the country for the upcoming 186th St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebration.
Although I’ve stayed in Savannah hotels many times, I’ve never been there during the St. Patrick’s Day parade and festivities, so I’ve scoured the Web and chatted with friends to get the best insights and tips on what not to miss at this year’s celebration.
To get you in the mood:
Although the parade will be on Wednesday, March 17, many activities and events will begin the weekend before. I know I’m excited for the annual Greening of the Forsyth Park Fountain on Friday, March 12 at noon. Apparently, the fountain “goes green” each year to kick off the celebration. Forsyth Park is always a beautiful sight, but adding a gushing, green fountain is a great way to start off the week.
To maintain the Irish theme into the weekend, check out the Tara Feis Irish Celebration on Saturday, March 13, at Emmet Park. In addition to celebrating the Irish heritage and culture with great food, music, dancing, and crafts, there’s the added benefit of a family-friendly park outing and great views of the Savannah River.
If you’re looking for the parties, have no fear … the Celebration on the River will take place on historic River Street throughout the week. There will be both a pre-St. Patrick’s Day bash March 12-13, and a post-bash March 16-17. There will be hundreds of thousands of people attending the party festivities, and I’m told the scene is reminiscent of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, without the nudity!
All about the parade:
The biggest sightseeing event will be the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17. The day kicks off at 8 a.m. with St. Patrick’s Day Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Georgia. The parade begins at 10:15 a.m. near the corner of Abercorn and Gwinnett streets. You’ll have to arrive early for good seats along the parade route, as big crowds are expected. If you want to guarantee a good view, the best bet is to purchase seats in the reserved sections for $25 in advance and $30 the day of the parade. You can find out additional info. on reserved seating by contacting Kelly Tours at (912) 964-2010.
You can also check out the parade route, which includes some great tips on best locations to view the parade — including tips for those who want a close-up of the grand marshall’s review stand. Keep in mind, no matter where you plan to watch the parade, be sure to consider taking a cab or bus to get there. Parking is always a challenge in the Savannah historic district, and adding several hundred additional visitors is sure to make it a disaster.
Where to stay:
If you haven’t booked reservations yet, keep in mind that Savannah hotels fill up fast for this holiday celebration. If you’re interested in staying in the historic district, you’ll still find a few hotels still selling rooms — but they are sure to go quickly. If you want to be close to the parties on River Street, check out the Hyatt Regency Savannah or the new AVIA Savannah hotel. If you prefer a quaint, historic Savannah hotel you might want to look for rooms at the Planters Inn on Reynolds Square or if you prefer to be closer to the weekend activities and enjoy fine dining and first-class amenities, you should consider staying at the Mansion on Forsyth Park.
No matter where you stay, being at one of the biggest parties in the country is a sure way to have a great St. Patrick’s Day this year. See you in Savannah!
Antoinette Bierman is a Market Manager for Orbitz Worldwide. She is “Southerner” at heart and a “West Coaster” by birth who loves to travel, especially on road trips where she can be joined by her very active and very high-maintenance 4-legged friends.