Savannah plays host to one of the biggest celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day in the United States (and maybe even the world!) Even an Irish news site named Savannah in the Top 10 places in the world to spend St. Patrick’s Day! US News & World Report places Savannah in the Top 10 top St. Patrick’s Day parades in America. Up to half a million or more people, locals and tourists alike, come to downtown Savannah every year to celebrate this holiday dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1813, when the Hibernian Society of Savannah marched down Savannah streets to celebrate the life of St. Patrick. The Irish immigrants arriving in Savannah during the late 1800’s kept the tradition alive and the parade has been getting bigger and better ever since. The history of St. Patrick’s Day goes back centuries to 400AD. Originally, the day was a sacred holy day for the Catholic Church. However, today, it has turned into a more secular holiday and a celebration of Irish tradition and culture.
There are quite a few activities in the week before St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. The celebrations started off on March 9, 2012 with the “Greening of Forsyth Fountain”. The Tara Feis was held at Emmet Park on Saturday, March 10, 2012. This was a free family friendly festival featuring music, Irish dancing, crafts and food. You can find information for all of the events on the official St. Patrick’s Day Parade site. The biggest event is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2012. The day starts with a mass at the Cathedral of St. John’s. The parade kicks off at 10:15am on Abercorn Street next to Forsyth Park and ends near Liberty Street. The parade is over 3 hours long with over 350 participants including floats, military divisions, marching bands, pipe & drum corps and even The Budweiser Clydesdales! Once the parade is over, you can head to the St. Patrick’s Celebration on the River on historic River Street. The street is shut down for this festival, which actually starts on Friday, March 16, 2012. There is lots of music, food and entertainment on River Street where the party continues to the wee hours of the morning.
Everyone becomes a bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Savannah is the perfect place to become a little bit Irish for the day! Slainte!