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 to see what I mean.

Pinnable graphic showing Santa holding presents, two Christmas booths, and a charming holiday scene. Text overlay reads Savannah's Christmas Market at Plant Riverside

Note: This guide contains affiliate links to my trusted travel partners.

If you’re new around here, first of all … allow me to extend a warm welcome!

My name is Erin, and I authored the Savannah First-Timer’s Guide. It combines my top Savannah travel tips from this website into one downloadable guide.

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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.

Watercolor map of Savannah's Historic District with a red circle highlighting the location of the Plant Riverside District where the Savannah Christmas Market is held
The Plant Riverside District is a very small section along the far west end of the waterfront. | ©ErinClarkson

If you’re strolling along the riverfront and look west towards the Talmadge Bridge, you can’t miss it; just look for the two smokestacks reaching towards the sky. (They’re always lit up at night.)

Those smokestacks belong to the JW Marriott Plant Riverside, which was constructed from an abandoned electric power plant.

Aerial view of Savannah's Plant Riverside District, with two old smokestacks visible atop the roof of one of the buildings

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 version of the largest dinosaur ever discovered.

The reproduction is 135 feet long and hangs overhead, surrounded by massive flying pterodactyls.

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.

Savannah Christmas Market

Plant Riverside District | 400 W River Street, Savannah, GA 31401
Dates: November 16, 2023 – January 1, 2024
Hours: The vendors are there daily until 9 or 10 p.m.
NOTE: On Christmas Eve they will likely be open from noon to 6 p.m. The market is CLOSED on Christmas day.

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.

Scene along the riverfront in the Plant Riverside District with streetlamps decorated in greenery and ribbons with lots of people milling about

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!

Two cheerful booths at the Savannah Christmas Market with the shops and restaurants of the Plant Riverside District visible in the background
My favorite time to go is at dusk when the sun is setting. The booths all look so warm and cozy, and I love watching the sun as it sets over the river. | ©ErinClarkson
Christmas booths along the riverfront decorated with greenery and ornaments with the smokestacks of the JW Marriott Plant Riverside visible in the background
Restaurant sign in the Plant Riverside District with garlands of greenery and purple and red ornaments draped above it
When the twinkle lights reflect off the ornaments at night they cast a warm glow over everything. | ©ErinClarkson

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.

NOTE: The market is closed on Christmas day.

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.

Santa Clause holds a baby while sitting in a red and gold chair in front of holiday decor at the Savannah Christmas Market
A photo station set up for photos with Santa includes a fancy red and gold chair, a tall skinny Christmas tree, and an elf wearing green and leaning against a sign for the North Pole
Head to the “North Pole” to have photos taken with Santa and his elves. | ©ErinClarkson

Here are some of the events and activities to expect this year at the Savannah Christmas Market.

  • Gingerbread House Unveiling
    November 24, 2023 | 4:00 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    Stop by to see the unveiling of an elaborate Gingerbread house that takes a pastry team an entire month to create. It’s pretty spectacular!
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony
    November 24, 2023 | 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    This family friendly event features a live reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and a tree lighting ceremony with special appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
  • Jack Daniels Barrel Tree Fundraiser
    November 24, 2023 | 8:00 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    Gather ’round to watch the lighting of a 15-foot tree constructed from Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. Barrels can be purchased for $150 each, and the proceeds go to charity.
  • Santa Meet & Greet
    Every Friday and Saturday from November 24th – December 24th
    Cost: Free
    Stop by to say hello and have your picture taken with the jolly guy. Just bring your own camera or cell phone and hand it to one of Santa’s helpers to snap the photo.
  • Kid’s Corner
    Every Saturday in December | 2:00 p.m.
    Cost: $20
    Bring the kiddos to Turbine Cafe in Generator Hall (located inside the JW Marriott Plant Riverside) so they can decorate cookies for Santa.
  • Brunch with Santa
    Sunday, December 17, 2023 | 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Cost: $62+ Adults | $30+ Children
    Enjoy a holiday-themed buffet featuring Santa and Mrs. Clause, as well as a visit from The Grinch!
Colorized Vegas-style water fountains shooting pink and purple fountains of water from the ground as the sun sets behind the Talmadge Bridge in the background
The colorized light and water display of the Holiday Fountain Show looks pretty at dusk as the sun is setting behind the Talmadge Bridge. | ©ErinClarkson

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.

Mural with white, pink, and purple flowers painted on a black background with script that reads The Beauty of Plant Riverside
A cheerful Santa Claus statue holding numerous presents located on the grass near the shops in the Plant Riverside District
A circular water fountain spouting sprays of water lit with soft pink lighting. A shop in the background is decorated with Christmas ornaments and greenery
A lantern wrapped in holiday greenery and red ribbons in the foreground with a large historic brick building decorated with Christmas wreaths in the background
Daytime view of the Christmas tree in the Plant Riverside District. It's surrounded by a white picket fence draped in greenery and red bows
A Christmas booth filled with aromatherapy bottles and decorated with greenery and fuzzy white Christmas stockings
Expect to find cute little wooden booths draped in greenery and ornaments throughout the market area. | ©ErinClarkson

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.

Nighttime view of a cheerful statue of Santa holding gifts with bright purple lights illuminating the shop in the background
Contrast this photo with the shot of Santa I posted earlier and you’ll see how the vibe changes from day to night. | ©ErinClarkson
The lobby of the JW Marriott Plant Riverside
The lobby of the JW Marriott Plant Riverside is just as colorful as the exterior of the building.
The two towers of the Plant Riverside District lit in purple and green for the holidays. A decorated Christmas tree stands below in the Savannah Christmas Market.
The tree lighting ceremony will be held on November 24, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.
Nighttime shot of the Plant Riverside District showing the riverwalk, a large cargo ship in the Savannah River, and neon lights illuminating the shops and hotels along the riverfront
Be sure to bring a jacket! The wind blowing off the water makes this area a little chillier than the rest of Savannah. | ©ErinClarkson
Green neon lights illuminate Electric Moon nightclub in the Plant Riverside District
There are a couple bars in the area, but Electric Moon is probably the most popular. It even features a rooftop slide! | ©ErinClarkson

Where to Eat in the Area

If you’re looking for an upscale place to eat, Stone and Webster Chophouse is a popular spot for steak-loving tourists in the Plant Riverside District. As a bonus, it’s one of only a handful of restaurants in Savannah that typically stays 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
B&W image of a brick building at night with an illuminated sign for Stone & Webster Chophouse
Stone & Webster Chophouse is located in the heart of the Plant Riverside District. | ©ErinClarkson

Want more information about what to expect during the holiday season in Savannah? Check out these related posts…

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) look festive.

It’s updated regularly 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 hotels that decorate for Christmas fill up FAST! Travelers typically start booking for Christmas during July.

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 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.”

Want 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 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.

If you’re in the beginning stages of planning 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.

If you prefer to have easy access to all of my top Savannah tips from this website, you might be interested in purchasing the Savannah First-Timer’s Guide. It includes helpful maps, checklists, and insider tips about the city all in one handy downloadable ebook.

When you purchase the guide, 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.

Do you have any questions about the Savannah Christmas Market? If so, let me know in the comments below!

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Pinnable graphic showing Santa holding presents, two Christmas booths, and a charming holiday scene. Text overlay reads Savannah's Christmas Market at Plant Riverside
Pinnable graphic of charming Christmas booths. Text overlay reads Plant Riverside District's Christmas Market in Savannah
Pinnable graphic of a couple charming Christmas booths and holiday decor at the JW Marriott. Text overlay reads Savannah's Christmas Market at Plant Riverside