The wearing of the green starts early and stays strong in Savannah. St. Patrick’s Day brings plenty of green fanfare from downtown and the riverfront out to nearby Tybee Island. The city’s strong Irish roots are responsible, and what started as a public procession of 13 Hibernian Society members in 1824 has grown into a month-long celebration that’s more of a season than a holiday. The festivities culminate with one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world. In fact, it’s third in size only behind the ones held in Dublin and New York City. An a la carte selection of events proceed the grand parade.
Celtic Cross Ceremony and Reception
One of the more reverent St. Pat’s events, the Celtic Cross Ceremony takes place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2019. It’s impressive to watch as bagpipes and drummers lead a procession of Irish families from attending mass at the Cathedral of St.John the Baptist to Emmet Park. Here they will place a wreath before the Celtic Cross Statue. Selected members of the Irish community will address the past, present, and future. It’s a tradition that honors the Irish community.
Jasper Green Ceremony
On Friday, March 15 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., the Irish community will honor the armed forces from the past and present, at the Sergeant William Jasper Memorial Ceremony. A procession will begin at Johnson Square traveling south on Bull Street to Madison Square. They will gather around a monument honoring Jasper and his men. A Revolutionary War hero, Jasper is the son of Irish immigrants who came to colonies from Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day Fire Ball
One of the hottest parties of the year, the Fire Ball is a chance to meet and mingle with local firefighters and firefighters from around the World. Each year, the IAFF Savannah Firefighters invite all to this grand event. Live music, an open bar, heavy hor d’ourves, a silent auction, and raffle prizes kick-start St. Pat’s weekend. It takes place Friday, March 15, 2019, from 6-10 p.m.
St. Patrick’s Day Festival
Riverstreet is Party Central all year long, so it’s no surprise to find the biggest, best,(and longest) St. Patrick’s Day party on the Riverfront. The partying starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, March 15 and lasts until midnight on Sunday. It’s a sort of mini Mardi Gras with green beads, green beer, and music on multiple stages. Food and drink vendors from local restaurants will be on hand with Irish food and other goodies.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Savannah’s famous St. Patrick’s Day parade has been going on rain or shine for over 190 years, only halted four times by the Civil War and World War I. The parade has grown in size to last around four hours. Fill up on a big breakfast at a downtown restaurant that includes green grits and claim your spot early along the parade route. It’s a highly entertaining parade with dozens of marching bands, Irish clans, dignitaries, dancers, the Clydesdales, and lots of colorful floats. This year’s parade will be held on Saturday, March 16 out of respect for churchgoers since St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday. It starts around 10 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m.
Tybee Island St. Patrick’s Events
If you’re staying out at Tybee for the weekend, all the funky island bars celebrate the holiday heartily. Tybee also includes some Irish culture along with the celebrating, too. If you’re on the island on Thursday, March 15, you can enjoy an entertaining evening of music, culture, and history with Harry O’Donoghue, an Irish folksinger, songwriter, and storyteller. He performs all over the U.S. and Ireland with a repertoire of folk songs from the old country accompanied by his guitar and bodhran, an Irish hand drum. The show takes place at the Tybee Post Theater on Van Horn Street at 7 p.m.
If you want to spend the rest of the weekend at the beach and still take part in the Savannah festivities, you’re in luck. Old Trolley Tours will again offer their shuttle service that runs to downtown from Midtown and Tybee Island. Beginning on Friday from 6:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m., the shuttle will make continuous runs every 30 minutes from the Tybee Island Lighthouse, DeSoto Beach Hotel, and Hotel Tybee. Saturday’s schedule begins at 6:00 a.m. and lasts until 11:00 p.m. It’s a safe and cheap ride at $15 one way and $20 round trip.