One of the most anticipated events for house-proud Savannahians, the Tour of Homes and Gardens (912/234-8054, www.savannahtourofhomes.org ) offers guests the opportunity to visit six beautiful sites off the usual tourist-trod path. This is a great way to expand your understanding of local architecture and hospitality beyond the usual house museums.
More than just a day, the citywide St. Patrick’s Day (www.savannahsaintpatricksday.com ) celebration generally lasts at least half a week and temporarily triples the population. The nearly three-hour parade—second-biggest in the United States—always begins at 10 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day (unless that falls on a Sunday, in which case it’s generally on the previous Saturday) and includes an interesting mix of marching bands, wacky floats, and sauntering local Irishmen in kelly green jackets.
The appeal of the event comes not only from the festive atmosphere and generally beautiful spring weather, but from Savannah ’s unique law allowing partiers to walk the streets with a plastic cup filled with the adult beverage of their choice. Because of this, however, there is inevitably going to be over-imbibing, which Savannahians generally think of as “local character.” While you may disagree, there’s no escaping the event if it’s going on while you’re here. Your best course of action is to simply put on a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button, sample a beverage yourself, and live and let live if possible.
While the parade itself is very family-friendly, afterwards hardcore partiers generally head en masse to River Street , which is blocked off for the occasion and definitely not where you want to take small children. Five bucks will buy those 21 and over a bracelet allowing them to drink alcohol. For information on this aspect of the celebration, go to www.riverstreetsavannah.com .
If you want to hear traditional Celtic music on St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, River Street isn’t the place to go, with the exception of Kevin Barry ’s on the west end. Outdoor entertainment on River Street during the celebration is generally a lame assortment of cover bands. For authentic Irish music on St. Paddy’s Day, wander around the pubs in the City Market  area.
Savannah ’s answer to Charleston’s Spoleto , the three-week Savannah Music Festival (912/234-3378, www.savannahmusicfestival.org ) is held at various historic venues around town and begins right after St. Patrick’s Day. Past festivals have featured Wynton Marsalis, the Beaux Arts Trio, and Diane Reeves. The jazz portion is locked down tight, thanks to the efforts of festival director Rob Gibson, a Georgia native who cut his teeth as the founding director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The classical side is equally impressive, helmed by one of the world’s great young violinists, Daniel Hope, acting as associate director. Other genres are featured in abundance as well, from gospel to bluegrass to zydeco to world music to the always-popular American Traditions vocal competition.
The most economical way to enjoy the Music Festival is to purchase tickets online before December of the previous year at a 10 percent discount. However, if you just want to take in a few events, individual tickets are available at a tiered pricing system that allows everyone to enjoy this popular event. You can buy tickets to individual events in town at the walk-up box office beside the Trustees Theatre on Broughton Street .