Of all holiday traditions, the most dazzling is the twinkling of lights. Lighting up for Christmas dates to the Yule Log bonfire in the 12th century. Then came candles attached to trees in Germany in the 17th century. In 1882, the invention of the light bulb led to strings of lights being used in place of candles.
Savannah certainly follows tradition by lighting up for the holidays. Of course, this city loves any reason to celebrate and entertain, and Christmas tops the list. We’ve run down some of the best ways to view lights this season.
See a dazzling flotilla of more than 40 beautifully decorated vessels during the 2020 Boat Parade of Lights on Nov. 28. One of the best spots in Savannah for enjoying the view is the deck of a Savannah River Boat Cruise. In addition to watching the parade, your cruise ticket includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and drink specials.
If you prefer to stay on land, see the Boat Parade from shore at the free River Street view on Rousakis Plaza or Savannah Convention Center view, which requires a $5 parking pass for access to the Riverwalk esplanade. The parade sets sail at 7 p.m. on Nov. 28.
Neighborhoods all around the city are decked out in their holiday best, including Savannah’s historic homes and charming city squares. The Historic District takes on a Victorian Christmas flair with carolers and old-fashioned decorations.
Take a dash through the district in a one-horse open … carriage. Savannah Carriage Tours and Carriage Tours of Savannah offer a delightful way to see the city. It’s appropriate, too, as the Christmas favorite, “Jingle Bells,” was written by composer James L. Pierpont in 1857. Pierpont served as music director at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Oglethorpe Square, where it is said he wrote the popular tune.
Or you can enjoy the magical displays on the Old Town Trolley Holiday Lights and Sights Tour. The two-hour tour rolls from Nov. 29 through Dec. 24, taking passengers on a time-travel scenic tour. Visit the 1800s at the Davenport House, and Santa Claus makes a special appearance. Passengers can even check out his Southern toy workshop firsthand.
Speaking of the Davenport House, the landmark will host its Holiday Evening Tours by Candlelight Dec. 26-30 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The hour-long tour is an open-house format. Hosts in period costume welcome visitors to an event that depicts end-of-year celebrations of early 19th century Savannah residents. Highlights include music and skilled interpreters who show visitors through the home. Each evening culminates with a demonstration of period dancing.
City Market gets all decked out during the holidays, putting Savannah’s Christmas spirit on full display. Stroll beneath holiday lights, taste sweet treats in City Market shops and find the perfect gifts for your loved ones, all while being serenaded by Christmas carolers.
Forsyth Park Fountain also lights up during the holidays with festive wreaths, bright bows and garland frame the picturesque fountain. It’s a perfect spot for family Christmas photos.