The most defining day on the calendar of Savannah is March 17th, St. Patrick's Day.  If you are planning to travel here within 3 or 4 days before or after that date, you need to plan ahead.

Though the national media may ignore it, Savannah has, for many years, had the second largest celebration in the nation (2nd to NYC) with regards to the number of people who come for St. Patrick's Day (St.PD) and the size of our parade.  They always celebrate on March 17th, unless March 17th falls on a Sunday - then they celebrate on Saturday, March 16th.  if St.PD falls on a Monday through Thursday, they expect about 350,000 to 400,000 guests in the Historic District.  Any other day, more than half-a-million people will be here.

There are several websites that offer valuable resources on what to expect:

Savannah's Official St. Patrick's Day website

www.savannahnow.com/stpatricksday 

All hotels within a 60 mile radius are going to triple their rates and require at least a 2 night minimum (some even require 3 nights).  For many years, hotels would not accept reservations for that time before January 1st of the year, but some are now opening up the bookings for St.PD earlier.  It is strongly suggested to call the hotel on their direct line; toll-free central reservations (and reservation web sites) may not have access to the availability.

Hotels in the Historic District which sit on the parade route reserve quickest.  These include the Hampton Inn on Bay Street, The East Bay Inn, Staybridge Suites on Bay Street, and the granddaddy of all St. Patrick's Day hotels, the DeSoto Hilton.

Many Savannians have favorite spots (especially in squares) from which to watch the parade.  The City no longer allows "early bird" to camp out in order to claim spots a day or two prior. To get a prime spot in a square, be prepared to claim it at 6am, and be prepared to fight off hundreds of locals who will be vying for that spot. If you want a good spot anywhere on the street route, prepare to be at the parade route no later than 7:00am to claim it.  You can find space to watch the parade on Broughton Street (towards the east end) up until the start of the parade - but the disadvantage is the lack of shade.

The parade begins at 10:15am and it will take about 3 1/2 to 4 hours to fully pass you.  Port-a-lets are spread throughout the Historic District - make sure you bring plenty of your own toilet paper and disenfectant wipes. 

Many people pack a picnic lunch along with some alcohol cheer.  If you bring beer or liquor, you must drink it from a 16oz. or smaller plastic or styrofoam cup.  Anything else will get you arrested.

Families with small children tend to enjoy sitting on Abercorn street, from Hall Street (start of the parade) to Jones Street.  There are fewer hard-core party types here.  Bay Street draws the rowdiest bunch - prepare for a lot of liquor here!  Most of the families who are members of the Knights of Columbus or the Parade Committee congregate on Bull Street around Chippewa Square.  The easiest place to find a good view is Broughton Street from about Habersham to East Broad but be warned - no trees equals too much sunshine (bring some SPF lotion).

Bring a folding chair, come early, watch the weather report for what to wear (some years, shorts and tank tops, some years, parkas and long johns). Bring a supply of your favorite beverage and some pimento cheese sandwiches and enjoy Savannah's favorite day!

As the time draws nigh, please check this Insider Page regularly as updates from locals will give info on events before and after the parade.