Savannah businesses and schools shut down for Saint Patrick’s Day, so you know this event is legendary and dear to all Savannahians and tourists alike. With so many options on how and where to spend your day, here’s the rundown on how residents like to spend this holiday.
The Night Before
The vibe March 16 downtown is very festive, and the bars are already decorated as are the people. Last year, we ate at Kevin Barry’s for dinner, then walked down River Street to take in the sights and manageable amount of people (still a good-sized, raucous crowd). Then, we headed up to Bay Street Blues to sing karaoke way too late since we had to be up at 5:00 the next day to claim our spot along the parade route. The night of St. Patrick’s Day is so packed on River Street that you can barely move, order a drink, or have any type of conversation. Now, some people want to experience the massive crowds all decked out in their Irish gear and stumbling around on the cobblestone, so go for it if that’s what you are looking for. Or, you could also get a room with a view of River Street (pricey, but the money you’ll save on drinks and the time you’ll save elbowing into a bar would be worth it), or just go out the night before instead, which is what we do.
The Morning Of
You need to get downtown no later than 7:00am in order to start your St. Patrick’s Day festivities and claim a spot along the parade route. Make sure you bring chairs, food, snacks, drinks, your camera, trashbags, thermos of coffee, cups, and maybe some cards. We like to go towards the end of the parade route (here is the link to last year’s route, and it usually stays about the same: Savannah Parade Route). Then, you have some options: you can bring breakfast and coffee (perhaps some Irish Bailey’s to be festive?), or your group could go in shifts to McDonough’s or The Rail Pub, both of which offer breakfast starting by 7am (and you can have your first beer of the day if you are up for it). While you wait for the parade to start at 10:15am, sit back, relax, and watch the city come alive. You will see people that are still winding down from partying the night before, the die hard parade watchers that come early so no one gets their “spot”, the vendors with their ridiculous St. Patrick’s Day decor (you have to buy something tacky to wear–maybe a feather boa or three feet tall green-and-white striped top hat?). Perhaps you will run in to the man we call Fluff–he has been coming to the same spot along the parade route for 25 years and knows everyone from the governor to the goats that walk through the parade. The three-hour long parade is great fun, and the people watching is even better–pour yourself a drink and enjoy! To truly get the full experience of the parade, bring your lipstick and run out to kiss the cheeks of cadets that march by…their faces are covered by the time the parade is over, and it’s a long-standing tradition.
After the Parade
You definitely need to get something to eat by now (especially if you have been drinking all morning!) so head to Kevin Barry’s if you want some Irish grub or head down to River Street to people watch more–maybe grabbing a table at Tubby’s or One-Eyed Lizzie’s for great views. After lunch, walk around to the fountains that have been “greened” for the week of St. Patrick’s Day as you make your way to City Market. While it can get a little crowded, this is the spot to go after the parade as they have great live music playing for most of the day. If you are planning on going out the night of Saint Patrick’s Day, make sure to go to your hotel to rest a bit before you head back out into the madness. River Street doesn’t usually start getting really packed until about 7 or 8pm. My advice? Stay out downtown until about 6pm and then head back to your hotel and call it a day, or if you really want to be out longer, stay off of River Street and go to bars and restaurants near City Market or on Broughton or Bay Streets.
Be safe and enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day Savannah-style–it’s truly an event everyone should experience at least once in their lives!