The Savannah Symphony Orchestra is now defunct, but area musicians unite to play a free evening at Picnic in the Park (www.savannahga.gov ), a concert in Forsyth Park  that draws thousands of noshers. Arrive early to check out the ostentatious, whimsical picnic displays, which compete for prizes. Then set out your blanket, pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy the sweet sounds.
The combined aroma of beer, sauerkraut, and sausage that you smell coming from the waterfront is the annual Oktoberfest on the River (www.riverstreetsavannah.com ), which has evolved to be Savannah ’s second-largest celebration (behind only St. Patrick’s Day ). Live entertainment of varying quality is featured, though of course the attraction is the aforementioned beer and German food. A highlight is the Saturday morning “Weiner Dog races” involving, you guessed it, competing dachshunds.
If pickin’ and grinnin’ is your thing, don’t miss the low-key but always entertaining Savannah Folk Music Festival (www.savannahfolk.org ). The main event of the weekend is held on a Sunday night in the historic Grayson Stadium in Daffin Park , but a popular Old-Time Country Dance is usually held the Saturday prior. Members of the Savannah Folk Music Society will help you learn how to do the dance, so don’t be shy!
Sponsored by St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church, the popular Savannah Greek Festival (www.stpaul.ga.goarch.org ) features food, music, and Greek souvenirs. The weekend event is held across the street from the church at the parish center—in the gym, to be exact, right on the basketball court. Despite the pedestrian location, the food is authentic and delicious, and the atmosphere convivial and friendly.
Despite its generic-sounding name, the Fall Festival (www.bamboo.caes.uga.edu ) is actually quite interesting, given its location in the unique Bamboo Farm and Coastal Garden. A joint project of the University of Georgia and Chatham County, the Bamboo Farm features a wide array of native species, all lovingly tended. The festival features tours, displays, arts and crafts, food, and lots of kids’ activities. The event is free, but you’ll pay $1 to park. To get there, take Exit 94 off of I-95 and take U.S. 204 east towards Savannah . Turn right on East Gateway Boulevard, then left on Canebrake Road. Enter at the Canebrake gate.
Hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the weeklong Savannah Film Festival (www.scad.edu ) beginning in late October is rapidly growing not only in size but in prestige. Lots of older, more established Hollywood names appear as honored guests for the evening events, while buzz-worthy, up-and-coming actors, directors, producers, writers, and animators give excellent workshops during the day. Many of these usually jaded show-biz types really let their hair down for this festival, because, as you’ll see, Savannah is the real star.
The best way to enjoy this excellent event is to buy a pass, which enables you to walk from event to event. Most importantly, the passes gain you admission to what many locals consider the best part of the festival: the after-parties, where you’ll often find yourself face to face with some famous star or director. But whatever you do, don’t ask for an autograph. The thing at these parties is to be cool—and if you can’t be cool, at least act that way!
One of Savannah ’s most unique events is October’s “Shalom Y’all” Jewish Food Festival (912/233-1547, www.mickveisrael.org ), held in Forsyth Park  and sponsored by the historic Temple Mickve Israel . Latkes, matzo, and other nibbles are all featured along with entertainment.