If you dream of sipping hot chocolate while strolling along the river to check items off your holiday wishlist, then you’re probably going to want to head to the Savannah Christmas Market! It’s the city’s own little version of a traditional German Christmas market (only with palm trees instead of snow), and it’s cute as can be.
You’ll find it in the Plant Riverside District, which is located along the riverfront. It’s close to the port, so it’s fairly common to see giant container ships cruising past. Check out some of my favorite photos of River Street if you aren’t familiar with the area.
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But first, if you’re new to this site…welcome! My name is Erin, and I authored the Savannah First-Timer’s Guide. I have fun helping newbies plan their trips to Savannah. I’m kinda known for my honesty, since I talk about both the pretty and the gritty sides of the city.
Plant Riverside District
If you’re new to Savannah, or if you haven’t visited in a few years, I should probably explain exactly where the Plant Riverside District is located. It’s a fairly new(ish) development along the far west end of River Street.
If you’re strolling along the riverfront and look west towards the Talmadge Bridge, you can’t miss it; just look for the two colorfully lit smokestacks reaching towards the sky. Those smokestacks belong to the JW Marriott Plant Riverside, which was constructed from an abandoned electric power plant.
Even if you don’t stay in the hotel, you should definitely check out the lobby! It’s a natural history museum that features a chrome recreation of the largest dinosaur ever discovered. The reproduction is 135 feet long and hangs overhead, surrounded by massive flying pterodactyls (which are also reproductions, of course).
Plant Riverside is known as Savannah’s Entertainment District, so you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, art, and music venues in the area.
Related Video: The Adaptive Reuse of a Power Plant: Renovation of Savannah’s Plant Riverside
The Savannah Christmas Market
Plant Riverside District | 400 W River Street, Savannah, GA 31401
Dates: 11.26.21 – 01.03.22
Although the Plant Riverside District leans towards the trendy side (think Vegas-style LED lighting displays), you can still find traditional Christmas decor in some areas. The Savannah Christmas Market is a prime example!
As you stroll along the riverfront, you’ll notice lampposts wrapped in greenery and topped with cheery bright red bows. The JW Marriott sign and most of the restaurants are draped with garlands covered in red, green, and gold ornaments.
Vendors come from popular local shops like Savannah Bee Company, River Street Sweets, and Nourish. It’s a nice spot to buy Christmas gifts and souvenirs!
A few of the booths serve snacks and drinks, and it’s definitely nice to sip on something toasty while you shop on a chilly day! You’ll find hot chocolate, cider, coffee, and even a small variety of alcoholic beverages.
Plant Riverside District Christmas Events
Expect visits from Santa, street performers, live music, and more at Plant Riverside’s Savannah Christmas Market. Make note that tickets are required for a few of these events.
- Savannah Harbor Boat Parade of Lights & Holiday After-Party
November 27, 2021
The popular Savannah boat parade will be followed by a performance from the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra and a choreographed light and water display. VIP viewing from Electric Moon is available for ages 21+ at a cost of $20.
- Santa Meet & Greet + Photos
November 27, 21 to December 24, 2021 | Daily from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, plus 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Bring the kids to Plant Riverside’s Montgomery Park to have their pictures taken with Santa. The jolly guy is there daily from Thanksgiving week until Christmas Eve. Make use of the District’s on-site professional photographer or bring your own camera.
- Kid’s Corner
November 26, 2021 from noon – 3 pm and November 27 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
The kiddos can decorate ornaments and Gingerbread cookies, write letters to Santa, and create felt garlands.
- Tree Lighting Ceremony
November 26, 2021 | 6:00 pm
This event features a performance by the First Baptist Church Choir, a live reading of The Night Before Christmas, and a tree lighting ceremony starring Santa. It’s held at the Plant Riverside Amphitheatre.
- Miracle on Swing Street: A Holiday Soiree
December 3, 2021 | 7:00 pm
Enjoy live a performance by the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra. Tickets available via Ticketmaster or at the door.
- Cirque Divina Aerialist Performances
Every Friday and Saturday Night | 8:30pm & 9:30pm
If you miss the holiday show, you can catch Cirque Divina perform every Friday and Saturday above the fountains.
Plant Riverside Christmas Decor
As I mentioned above, the decorations in the area look rather traditional during the day. Plant Riverside features a pretty floral mural you can pose by to snap selfies, if you’re into that kind of thing. Plus, there are colorful fountains and plenty of shops where you can look for gifts.
At night the area takes on a different vibe. There are plenty of LED lights and neon, so it looks much more Vegas-y and lives up to its “Entertainment District” reputation.
If you’re looking for an upscale place to eat, Stone and Webster Chophouse is a popular spot in the Plant Riverside District — especially for steak lovers. As a bonus, it’s one of only a handful of restaurants in Savannah open on Christmas and NYE. I suggest making reservations as far ahead as possible!
My husband and I are foodies and this was by far the greatest food we have EVER had. Definitely pricey, but 100% worth it. Not only that, but exploring the JW Marriott’s geode/fossil/power plant museum & gallery was an amazing experience in itself.~Brittany L. via my Savannah First-Timer’s Guide Facebook group
Want more information about what to expect during the holiday season in Savannah? Check out these related posts…
- Christmas in Savannah: Get the Scoop!
- Where to Find the Best Christmas Lights and Decor in (and around!) Savannah
I update that second post each year once the decorations start going up, so you might want to bookmark it to see exactly which squares (or Forsyth Park, or the Cathedral, etc) are decorated. It’s updated daily from Thanksgiving through mid-December!
Check Rates: Based on comments from travelers in my private Facebook group, the JW Marriott Plant Riverside and other Savannah area hotels are filling up FAST! (I guess y’all are excited to travel again, eh?)
Ethical Tourism in Savannah
Those of you who stop by my site regularly know I always try to mention how tourism affects the locals, and today I want to talk about those giant container ships you see along River Street.
They’re a huge part of what makes River Street so special! Some of the ships are so big they’re often taller than the historic warehouses and buildings lining the river. The port is one of the largest employers in Savannah, so it brings numerous jobs to the area.
However…with the good, comes the bad. Those massive container ships aren’t so good for the environment, and they’re often hauling tons of mass-produced and cheaply-made plastic products from as far away as China.
You might’ve noticed recent headlines from the New York Times and Associated Press discussing massive shipping delays and supply chain issues in American port cities. The messages often include warnings to “buy your Christmas presents early to avoid delays”.
You know how to avoid shipping delays? Buy local! There are plenty of incredibly talented makers right here in Savannah, and you’ll support the local economy when you purchase handcrafted and artisanal gifts from them.
In addition to the Savannah Christmas Market, you can find local artisans in City Market and in the shops along DeSoto Avenue in the Starland District.
Savannah Travel Blog
As mentioned previously, I really enjoy helping visitors plan their trips to Savannah. In addition to my Savannah First-Timer’s Guide, I’ve created a few other resources to help you out…
- Join my email list to stay in touch and get a checklist of 50 Things To Do on Foot in the Historic District — No Car Necessary, plus other helpful printables. I’m admittedly terrible at staying in touch, so I promise I won’t intrude on your inbox too often. (I’ve actually had people ask me to email MORE often, believe it or not!)
- When you purchase my ebook, you’ll also gain access to my very active private Facebook group about Savannah. I pop in multiple times each day to answer questions, post photos, and provide updates about the city.
- If you’re in the beginning planning phases of your trip, you might want to read my post, When is the Best Time to Visit Savannah, GA. Afterwards head to Where to Stay in Savannah Georgia to figure out your accommodations.
Thanks again for stopping by! I’m pretty easy to track down if you need help figuring out your travel plans. Send an email, post in the Facebook group, or just drop a comment below.
Do you have any questions about the Savannah Christmas Market? If so, let me know in the comments below!
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