Tybee Island’s Irish Heritage Celebration & Parade

I was chatting with my friend Andie from Louisiana earlier in the week and mentioned that I really want to take my kids to NOLA for a Mardi Gras parade. She said she wasn’t a fan and I had to laugh. I feel the same way about the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah. I never missed it once for about 29 years. And then I had a baby and haven’t been back! It’s just all too much. :-) But, what I DO love and what I try not to miss is the Irish Heritage Parade down on Tybee Island. It is always the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day and is a great, family friendly event.

We spent the day at Sister’s beach house. The cousins had a fantastic time playing, while the adults sat on the porch and watched the crowds stream in. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of corned beef sandwiches, salads, grits and cookie cake.

We popped in Tybee Social for a few festive drinks.

The kids (not just ours) loved playing in the street once the police shut it down for traffic around 2:15.

The parade starts around 3PM (if you’re local, you’ll understand that everything at the beach happens on “Tybee time”) and lasts about 75-90 minutes. Everything is family friendly and there are all sorts of characters to see. The Shriners are always our favorite part! Most throw beads and candy, which the kids love.

If you’re in Savannah and wish to see the parade, you’ll want to make a day of it! We had our chairs out on the parade route by 11 AM for prime viewing, but it really isn’t hard to find a good spot to watch. Many people set up a table with snacks and have coolers with drinks. The local restaurant are also open. Plan for heavy traffic when leaving. We hung out at the beach until about 5:30 PM and the drive back was still twice as long as usual.

Thanks to Sister for hosting such a fun pre-party!! <3

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8 thoughts on “Tybee Island’s Irish Heritage Celebration & Parade

  1. Was that a Junknaoo parade (the men in crepe paper costumes playing music)? I’m originally from the Bahamas where Junkanoo is a celebrated annual tradition passed down from the days of slavery. I saw your Instagram story with them playing the horn instruments and wondered what the link is with Irish heritage. That’s stumped me all weekend!

  2. I love a good parade too. We’ve been wanting to make it to the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade. By being too much, is it too crowded or too rowdy? Would you recommend the Tybee Island parade for first timers?

    We’ve been to several Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans and while they’re something to see for sure, I would advise the daytime parades for kids. The night time parades we went too had quite a bit of rowdiness and even a fight. My daughter happened to be there the same year with her college friends and heard gunshots . She called us and we spent the rest of evening trying to find her and her friends. There was also quite a bit of nudity. Also, our feet actually stuck to the ground from god knows what all over the road. We did not find it to be like that in the day time.

    That being said, my daughter went several other years (Florida State grad) and did not encounter hearing guns shots so that may have been random.

    The daytime parade was just as beautiful as the night time parades we have seen, but somewhat shorter. We always have a great time in New Orleans.

    You probably already know this but Mardi Gras actually began in Mobile, AL. and they also have numerous parades during that season. The floats are magnificent and they throw beads but also moonpies! We’ve enjoyed several parades there also (my best friends hometown). It more family friendly but we’ve enjoyed both.

  3. Amanda,
    What a fun parade! Tybee Island is so beautiful and this event looks like it is geared more toward children and families. We have a St. Patrick’s Day event called “Shamrock the Block” in Richmond, VA and it has gotten a bad “rap” because of all the drinking, rowdiness and violence. In fact, I am not sure if they are still even having this event anymore because of past problems.

    I agree with another poster, if you take your kids to a Mardi Gras parade in NOLA go to a day time parade. Things do get a lot more rowdier at night and my father in law who lives in Southern MS said there is a lot of bad things that happen during Mardi Gras that you don’t hear about because they try to keep it out of the news so it doesn’t hurt tourism. They use to enjoy going to parades on the gulf coast in MS and Mobile during Mardi Gras.

    1. I went throughout college with sorority sisters that lived in NOLA. One year one in our group did have a very scary encounter. Definitely would be looking for a day time parade! The downtown parade in Savannah is excruciatingly long and has its fair share of rowdy behavior.

  4. You should definitely take your boys to Mardi Gras! I took my 3 yo this year and last. (It’s a day trip for us because only an hour drive from Baton Rouge.) At 2 and 3, he has loved everything about it. I have a good friend who lives on St. Charles on the route (so have access to a bathroom) in a family friendly area, and she does a great set up. At this point I have only done day parades on Saturday and Tuesday with him, mostly because of his bedtime. Ron and Jeff’s location is perfect. Also, my friend’s parents rent a great air bnb uptown each year, so something like that would be great for y’all.

  5. Amanda, My husband and I enjoyed a kid free weekend in Savannah the same weekend of the Tybee Island parade. I used a lot of your tips! We drove over to Tybee for the parade but we were concerned about getting stuck in the traffic so headed back before it started. We wanted to see a different beach as we are close to the Gulf and visit frequently. I had visited Savannah 13 or so years ago for a bachelorette party and have been wanting to go back ever since. It is beautiful and we loved our weekend there. In general, I would say it was “rowdier” than I remembered! I can imagine the next weekend is extremely rowdy. We look forward to visiting again if we can talk the grandparents into babysitting again—it might be a while. We are still talking about the awesome pizza at Vinnie Van GoGos and loved Express Cafe for breakfast. The Lady and Sons was ok—just too many good Southern cooks in our family that blow it out of the water—but service was great. Tried Savannah Spirits Chop house and steak was terrible and service was poor. Funny how our cheapest meals were the best! We only got in our car once in 3 days and that was to drive to Tybee which was really nice. Very large homeless population which I did not remember from before. Thanks so much for all the excellent tips!

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