After Irma, Jekyll Island Invites Community and Guests to Come Together for Unique Two-Day "Merry Shrimpmas" Festival

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, September 29th, 2017

No hurricane is going to throw a wet blanket on community spirit and togetherness.  Not on Jekyll Island.

For local residents, visitors, festival fans, and many of the area businesses that were knocked for a loop earlier this month by Hurricane Irma, Jekyll Island officials are inviting the community to come together Nov. 24-25 for a special celebration that merges the best features from two of the island's signature events: the Shrimp & Grits Festival and the annual Tree Lighting celebration. 

"Merry Shrimpmas" will feature some of the region's favorite restaurants selling their classic shrimp and grits dishes. The festive event also includes live music on the Main Lawn; a curated artists market for holiday shopping; regional food trucks; and even fireworks and snow. Younger festivalgoers can take in story time with Santa Claus, mail their letters to the North Pole, and run, jump and play in an interactive Kids Zone that includes bounce houses.

The Merry Shrimpmas festivities will culminate Saturday evening with the highly anticipated lighting of the great Jekyll Island Christmas Tree.

This extraordinary celebration will provide an opportunity for everyone to support local businesses in the aftermath of the storm, and will offer the community a unique way to ring in the season. 

Originally scheduled for mid-September, the 12th annual Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival, presented by Southern Living, was cancelled when it became clear Irma's destructive reach would include the Golden Isles.  The award-winning festival is a showcase for tantalizing tastes and Southern tradition, with talented chefs and cooks representing some of the area's favorite restaurants.

"We were all heartbroken," said Meggan Hood, senior marketing director of the Jekyll Island Authority.  "The Shrimp & Grits Festival is the island's biggest event and it takes more than a year to plan, so simply moving it to another date was not an option.  But no one felt that should keep this community down.  That's when we came up with the idea of a special, one-time-only festival that infuses some of the most-beloved elements from Shrimp & Grits into an expanded, two-day, holiday-themed event that includes our popular tree-lighting activities.  This will be a unique experience the public won't want to miss."

There will also be plenty of holiday revelry before and after the Merry Shrimpmas festival. A special holiday Movies on the Green showing of "Elf," will take place Friday evening in the island's Beach Village. Guests can also take a spin on the oceanfront "ice" rink while enjoying panoramic view of the Atlantic.

"This is a huge opportunity to show how much these local businesses, from the restaurants, hotels and shops to the local artists and entertainers, mean to our community, at a time when we'll all be getting into the holiday spirit," Hood said.  "And, after all we've been through, who wouldn't like to begin the holidays with a some delicious shrimp and grits and a grand tree lighting?"

Festival Hours and Admission Information

  • Friday, Nov. 24, 2-8 p.m.

  • Saturday, Nov. 25, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Merry Shrimpmas will take place in the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District.  Admission to the festival is free.  Costs will vary for individual attractions, food and refreshments throughout the event.

The Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival will return to the third weekend of September in 2018, Hood said.