Best Things to Do in December in Savannah

Savannah Unveils its 2015 Holiday Event Line-Up

A visit to Savannah is always fun, but - as is the case in many other cities - there's something special in the air during the Christmas season, when holiday lights, mistletoe and all around good cheer permeate the city.

A fun way to view the city this time of year is the Holly Jolly Holiday Tour, or the Annual Holiday Tour of Homes which allows you to explore historic homes decked out in holiday finery. The annual Boat Parade of Lights allows you to view a fleet of more than 40 brightly decorated boats competing for awards. Christmas on the River features unique handmade gifts and stocking stuffers from River Street vendors, as well as music, food and entertainment.

For an all round "feel good" performance, A Christmas Tradition brings the magic of Christmas and all the glitz and glitter to you in a two-hour performance in a venue transformed into a winter wonderland.

Step back in time and view how former Savannah residents celebrated the holidays. The Davenport House, Owens-Thomas House and Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace are just some of the mansions being featured and the historic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is especially beautiful this time of year. 


Historic District
Davenport House Museum
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Holiday Evening Tours by Candlelight invites guests to step back in time December 26 - 30 - to experience a genuine 19th century end-of-year celebrations inside of Savannah's historic Davenport Mansion. Glistening candlelight will set the stage for the tour through the Federal-style home, where participants will be allowed to peek in on the Davenport household, who lived in the fine brick home on Columbia Square. Skilled historical interpreters will guide visitors through the home and light refreshments and music will be among the highlights of the presentation. Guests need to be able to walk up and down stairs and maneuver in the candlelit rooms. Tours are from 6 - 8:30 p.m. Tickets are: $10 for adults, with advance purchase, $12 at the door; $6 children in advance, $8 at the door

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's a nostalgic peek into Christmases past and gives an overview on how long-ago residents of Savannah lived.

Michelle's expert tip: Visitors should be capable of walking up and down stairs and getting around candlelit rooms, so make sure you're able to do this.

Read more about Davenport House Museum →

Westin Savannah Harbor Golf & Spa Resort
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The Savannah River is gleaming during the holiday season as the annual Boat Parade of Lights showcases some 40 beautifully decorated glowing vessels decked out for the season. The event takes place on November 28, 5 - 10 p.m. with boats leaving from the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf & Spa Resort's dock. The holiday line-up includes a festive tree lighting, Savannah Pipe and Drum Band performances, photos with Santa and fireworks. In addition there will be a Gingerbread Village and colorful Christmas Market. Sponsored by the Savannah Harbor Foundation, funds benefit the Greenbriar Children's Center. Hot cocoa, cider, s'mores and other treats will be offered. Cost is $10 per person (parking additional). All food and beverage is available a la carte.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's the perfect venue from which to watch the colorful festivities from the comfort of the resort.

Michelle's expert tip: Get there early as the parking lot fills up quickly.

Read more about Westin Savannah Harbor Golf & Spa Resort →

Historic District
Savannah Theatre
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The Savannah Theatre has been wowing audiences since it first opened its doors in 1818. Over the years notables such as Sarah Bernhardt, Tyrone Powers, W.C. Fields, Oscar Wilde and many others performed on this stage. Today, the restored 1940s art deco theater showcases live performances throughout the year - the most spectacular of which is A Christmas Tradition. The theatre is transformed into a winter wonderland with Santa, Frosty and dancing reindeer leading the pack in celebrating holiday glitz and glitter in a two-hour performance, November 26 - December 26. Tickets are $18 (17 and under), $37 for adults. Audience participation is encouraged.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This is a magical show and fun for the whole family.

Michelle's expert tip: Audience participation is expected!

Read more about Savannah Theatre →

Savannah Riverboat Cruises
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Relive a bygone era on board a replica of a paddle wheeler boats which once cruised America's rivers. As you cruise the scenic Savannah River, you'll be treated to the captain's tales, lore and historic fact about Savannah's past while viewing sights such as the "Waving Girl," and other landmarks. The Christmas season heralds several special cruise events, one of the most popular of which, is the "Sailing with Santa Charity Cruise." While on board the one-hour cruise, children can sit on Santa's lap and tell him what's on their "wish list." Children who bring a new unwrapped toy, get to cruise for free. Sailings are November 27 and 28 and December 5 and 12.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's a nice way to tour Savannah's landmarks from the vantage point of a bygone era.

Michelle's expert tip: Children who bring a new unwrapped toy get to cruise or free.

Read more about Savannah Riverboat Cruises →

Historic District
Old Town Trolley Tours
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Savannah's popular on-off tour company is a draw year round, but the Christmas season is special. The Holly Jolly Holiday Trolley Tour is offered November 27 - December 24 and includes two stops. Conductor "elves" entertain and amuse guests with favorite holiday lore, while transporting them past decorated historic homes and city squares - caroling all the way. Stops will be made at the historic Isaiah Davenport House, where guests will be transported to the 1820s with a peek at a typical 19th century Christmas. Later, tour the area's largest Gingerbread Village at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort, where guests receive a special treat. Tickets are: $25.70 for adults; $14.95 for children 4 - 12. Reservations are required.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's the perfect way to see the sights in a jolly atmosphere, while celebrating the Christmas season.

Michelle's expert tip: If you love Old Town Trolley's on-off tour and want to take advantage of it outside of the Christmas season, for a second day, you can purchase a ticket at a very reduced rate.

Read more about Old Town Trolley Tours →

Christmas For Kids At City Market
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Savannah's popular City Market comes alive with fun-filled activities for the whole family during Christmas holiday. Tucked into the country's largest Historic District, this four-block area has been a popular destination for entertainment, dining, art and retail since 1985. The annual Christmas for Kids celebration takes place Dec. 5, 2015, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. with cookie decorating, ornament- making, face painting, and Grinch hair and make-up as some of the activities. A petting zoo offers a chance to get up close and personal with small wildlife, while photos with Father Christmas sitting in Carriage Tours of Savannah's Cinderella carriage and a choir performance top off the festivities. Visitors are asked to take an unwrapped toy to drop off in the Holiday Hope collection box.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It offers fun for the whole family and lots to do in a festive atmosphere.

Michelle's expert tip: Don't forget to bring a new unwrapped toy for the Holiday Hope collection box.

Read more about Christmas For Kids At City Market →

Savannah Holiday Tour of Homes
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In 1974 Jim Williams - the Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association's first president - opened his beautiful home on Monterey Square for Savannah's first "Christmas Tour." He was one of Savannah's most successful antique dealers and owner of the Mercer House. While it was the only house on the tour and tickets were $25, the success of that first venture kicked off a popular Savannah holiday tradition. The Downtown Neighborhood Association has expanded and continuously improved the tour for 40, adding historic homes of all types and other events, which draw local residents and visitors alike. The 2015 Holiday Tour of Homes will showcase eight private residences on the afternoon of December 12. The self-guided tour will take visitors on a stroll through some of the most picturesque parts of downtown Savannah, beginning at the Massie Heritage Center. Tickets are $50 and available online. Advance purchase is strongly suggested as the event does sell out.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's a perfect opportunity to view the beautiful Christmas decor of some of Savannah's most picturesque neighborhoods.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.

Read more about Savannah Holiday Tour of Homes →

Savannah Philharmonic Holiday Pops
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A Savannah tradition since 2008, Savannah the Lucas Theatre for the Arts is once again the venue for the Philharmonic Orchestra's Holiday Pops, a perennial favorite. The magic, joy and warmth of Christmas will be celebrated with a full orchestra, chorus, soloists and special guests. Three Performances are scheduled: December 11, from 7:30 - 9 p.m.; December 12, from 3-4 p.m. (Children's Matinee) and December 12, 7:30 - 9 p.m. Performing soloists scheduled to perform are: Harry O'Donoghue, Irish Entertainer and Alexander Edgemon, countertenor (an American Traditions Competition gold medalist). Special guest: I. Contori. Tickets range between $16 - $75.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's a perennial favorite and it spreads the magic, joy and warmth of the season.

Michelle's expert tip: Tickets are in high demand so buy them early.

Read more about Savannah Philharmonic Holiday Pops →

Savannah's Lighted Christmas Parade
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This much heralded annual tradition is staged along the Savannah River each year and has become a favorite with visitors and locals alike. The colorful parade comprised of vehicles, car clubs, colorful floats and walking groups, kicks off the official arrival of St. Nick on December 5 at 5:30 p.m. Setting out from West River Street, it winds its way throughout the Historic Downtown, ending up in City Market. Preceding the parade, is the popular Christmas on the River, featuring local entertainment, music, seasonal treats and regional arts and crafts in what has become a true multi-cultural happening.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's a local tradition and it kicks off the official arrival of St. Nick.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to get there early as the event can get very crowded.

Read more about Savannah's Lighted Christmas Parade →

Christmas on the River
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Historic River Street comes alive with an old time holiday celebration the weekend of Dec. 4 and 5, 2015. Rousakis Plaza will be brimming with regional arts and crafts exhibitors offering a host of holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for everyone on your Christmas list. Music and local entertainment will be staged on the Arbor Stage throughout the weekend leading up to Savannah's Lighted Christmas Parade. The festive weekend activities are set to begin on Friday from 4-10 p.m. with First Friday Fireworks presented by Wet Willie's at 9:30 p.m., and continue on Saturday 5 from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. The parade - marking the official arrival of St. Nick - will kick off on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. starting on West River Street, traveling throughout downtown and ending in City Market.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's an old time holiday celebration and a Savannah tradition and worth participating in.

Michelle's expert tip: If you miss the Christmas event, First Friday Fireworks occur the first weekend of each month at 9:30pm. January and July fireworks always take place on the 4th of July and New Year's Eve.

Read more about Christmas on the River →


Meet Michelle da Silva Richmond

Michelle da Silva Richmond is an award-winning travel editor and member of the Society of American Travel Writers and other journalism organizations. 

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