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.

Late-night scene of a the JW Marriott Plant Riverside lit with red and purple lighting which is reflected on wet cobblestone streets in the foreground
You can’t miss the neon glow of Plant Riverside District and those two beacons of light shooting towards the sky.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.
  • 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.
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.

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.

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.
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.
This year’s tree lighting ceremony will be on November 26, 2021 at 6 pm.
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.
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!

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
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.

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) 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…

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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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