WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
Northern Michigan is luminous and tranquil when covered in a fresh blanket of snow. The breathtaking vistas, charming destinations, and special events continue, enhanced by smaller crowds than one might find in a city. Several festive celebrations are planned across the region to welcome 2020.
In its 11th year, Traverse City offers the largest New Year’s Eve event, with thousands dancing in the street until midnight, when a 600-pound cherry drops 115 feet to ring in the new year. Gates open at Park Street and Front Street at 9:30 pm, with entertainment starting on the stage at 10:00 pm.
“This event is such fun and so very special because ‘Who else drops a 600-pound cherry?’” quips Bailey Judson, special programs director of the National Cherry Festival, the new promoters of the New Year’s Cherry-T Ball.
A $3 suggested donation is requested at the gates (cash is preferred). All of the donations from this event benefit a food pantry in the Traverse City area, providing food and more to neighbors in need. With the donation, the first 2,400 people will receive an LED light-up bracelet that flashes in coordination with the music. Remember to wear warm clothes as it can get chilly at this event.
In Northport, near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula overlooking Grand Traverse Bay, The Northport Inn also hosts a ball-drop event. The celebration is a light-hearted affair with the revelers filling the streets of the postcard-worthy downtown. A 55-foot Christmas tree, decked with over 13,000 lights, illuminates the snowy streets and waiting crowd.
Music and dancing take place at The Mitten Brewing Co. pub adjacent to the Christmas tree display, and celebrations continue along the crowded streets, where local favorites such as Tucker’s and The Garage are brimming with revelers.
Those who enjoy a more sophisticated celebration may want to visit Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, which is presenting a New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner in the luxurious Inn.
“Chef Wenz goes all out, and our winemaker selects the best of our wines to pair with his creations. A representative from the winemaking team will present the wines chosen with the meal, and the chef will present each course,” states Sherri Campbell Fenton, Proprietor.
“Formal attire is suggested, and black tie is optional, so this event is a wonderful time to dress in your finest, celebrate the past year, and toast the next,” she concluded.
The venue is unique as a winery and inn with comprehensive culinary and events programs. Seating is limited.
Charlevoix presents its Bridge Drop Celebration starting at noon, with a snowman-building contest, live music, carriage rides, and extravagant firework shows at 9:00 pm and midnight.
Castle Farms in Charlevoix is welcoming the new year with a Roaring ‘20s dance event. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes and more. The evening includes a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts that include a chocolate fountain.
Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman offers an unusual event: a two-night package with a party, an elk-viewing sleigh ride, and a gourmet dinner and wine tasting.
Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville also offers lodging and kicks off 2020 with holiday activities and something fun for every age.