March 3, 2024

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Parties, dinners, and events across the North to ring in 2023
By Ross Boissoneau | Dec. 24, 2022

A new year brings new opportunities for all kinds of celebrations. From north to south, posh venues to the streets at midnight, there’s something for practically everyone to celebrate the arrival of 2023. Here are just a few of the options.A new year brings new opportunities for all kinds of celebrations. From north to south, posh venues to the streets at midnight, there’s something for practically everyone to celebrate the arrival of 2023. Here are just a few of the options.

CherryT Ball Drop | Downtown Traverse City

Where else can you watch a 600-pound cherry dropping from the sky to mark the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023? (Spoiler: nowhere else.)

This is the 13th year for the celebration, and this time around at the corner of Cass Street and Front Street, there will be a “Party with a Purpose.” (Suggested donation is $5 per person.) Over the years, the CherryT Ball Drop has raised nearly $110,000 for local nonprofits focused on food insecurity, and this year’s beneficiaries are Goodwill Northern Michigan’s Food Rescue and Northwest Food Coalition. Each year, Food Rescue rescues, harvests, repacks, and distributes 1.8 million pounds or $3.3 million worth of food to food pantries and community meal sites in a five-county region. Northwest Food Coalition is a group of 70 food pantries and emergency meal sites in northern Michigan, serving roughly 500,000 people each year.

So how’s the party, you ask? Must be pretty special, as an estimated 8,000-12,000 people attend.  Gates will open at 10:30pm with entertainment starting on the stage soon after. 

In addition, this year the CherryT Ball Drop is partnering with new restaurant North Bar for Masquerade ’23. You can celebrate above it all with the best live view of the festivities on the street from the heated rooftop bar, with cocktails, appetizers, a DJ, dancing, and more from 8pm-1am. 

The Great Turtle Drop | Mackinac Island

Speaking of dropping things, you can indeed celebrate the season on the island. And it’s not about fudge, or ice cream, or even lilacs. Instead, ring in the New Year on the island in Lake Huron with the Great Turtle Drop! 

Experience the countdown to midnight on the island and watch as a giant festive turtle is lowered from the top of the Lilac Tree Hotel. It’s a uniquely Mackinac celebration that started in 2011 and has become a favorite of island residents and visitors alike. 

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa | Acme

Fire and ice never sounded so nice. At least at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, where the Fire and Ice Party is guaranteed to start your new year off with a bang. Party people have two options available: One is a two-night package that includes accommodations, a four-course dinner in the Michigan Ballroom, and entrance to the Fire and Ice Party in Governors’ Hall. The other is party-only tickets. The event features the John Pomeroy Band, cash bar, late-night hors d’oeuvres, and a fireworks display at midnight.

Meanwhile, kids 6-12 years old can enjoy the New Year’s Eve Kids Party in the Health Club with pizza, games, swimming, a movie, and balloon drop at midnight. The party goes from 7pm-12:30am.

But wait, there’s more! Those looking for something a little more romantic can book a reservation on the 16th floor of the Tower at Aerie Restaurant & Lounge for a four-course, pre-fixe menu with options like seared lump crab cake, braised pork belly, and crispy salmon. Dinner is 5-10pm and live music plays from 7pm-1am. And you’ve made it to January 1? The New Year’s Day brunch buffet in Aerie Restaurant & Lounge runs from 10am-2pm. 

Black Star Farms

Also for the foodies, Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay is offering a wine-and-dine dinner ($155 per person) that’s as much experience as it is a culinary treat. Each of the five courses is carefully paired with a Black Star wine, from the grilled shrimp cocktail starter with 2017 Blanc de Blanc to a key lime panna cotta that’s partnered up with a glass of 2022 Bubbly Nouveau. The chef will share the inspiration behind each course, and a member of the winemaking team or Black Star family will present the wine pairings. 

“It is a dinner which is presented in long tables, communal style. I like to say that these special dinners are where strangers become friends, as the conversation flows,” says Black Star Farms Proprietor Sherry Fenton. “On New Year’s Eve, and all holidays, this is when I get a lot of joy out of inviting our local community in to celebrate with us. We love to be that special gathering spot.”

A Grand New Year’s Eve | Marion

If you’re looking to enjoy an engaging, intimate party, consider the Olde Mill Venue in Marion. The unique location—a former barn—at the Mill Pond will be hosting this black tie event featuring live classical music during cocktail hour and dinner, followed by a plated three-course dinner. Then it’s dancing with a DJ till the wee hours and a champagne toast at midnight. Formal attire is required, as are pre-purchased tickets ($100). 

Nub’s Nob | Harbor Springs

Prefer a snowsuit to a suit and tie? The week between Christmas and New Year’s is the perfect time to hit the slopes. (Supposing, of course, we have the snow to back it up.) To celebrate the new year, check out the family-friendly Torchlight Parade at Nub’s Nob. 

Starting at 5:30pm—it helps that it gets dark early in the winter—the Nub’s Nob ski patrol and Winter Sports School instructors will make a run down Smokey and another down Valley with flares in hand, creating a beautiful light display. 

“We typically have about 50 instructors and patrollers participate in the parade. It lasts for about 15 minutes and there is no charge. That, in addition to the relatively early start time, make it a nice option, particularly for families with younger kids,” says Brian Boeckl, the marketing director at Nub’s.

Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa | Thompsonville

There are parades on the slopes at Crystal Mountain, too, and you can join in the fun. The first 100 people age 18 and up can carry a torch, while the first 100 age 6-17 can carry a glow light. The parades begin at the top of Cheers to Lou at 10pm (register before 8pm), and after the parade fun ends, overnight guests, Four Seasons Club members, and property owners are welcome to enjoy fireworks over the mountain.

The resort’s offerings also includes a family party in Northwest Territories in the Crystal Center, with a dinner buffet, non-alcoholic beverages, party favors, live entertainment, and goody bags. Adults can dance to live music with the TC Knuckleheads at the Vista Lounge, and you can even celebrate in your own private setting with special Crystal Party Packs, including four top hats, tiaras, noise makers, “Happy New Year” eyeglasses, and a Happy New Year banner. For a low-key night, enjoy dinner at The Thistle or at the Wild Tomato—both restaurants have special NYE menus.

Want something to do on New Year’s Day? Snowshoeing is permitted on all Crystal Mountain property except the downhill slopes and cross-country trails. And there’s no better place to explore than Michigan Legacy Art Park, the 30-acre preserve with over 50 sculptures.

Great Wolf Lodge | Traverse City

Too chilly outdoors for you? Enjoy the warmth of the holidays at the 84-degree indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge. No, it’s not exclusive to New Year’s, but hey, who doesn’t enjoy a respite from the snow and cold? 

The interactive Snowfall Celebration provides plenty of holiday joy as families gather to ring jingle bells, sing seasonal melodies, and participate in a festive dance party to conjure magical snow flurries. Plus there’s holiday yoga, games from bingo to trivia to a scavenger hunt, and more, including dinner at the resort’s three restaurants.

Shanty Creek | Bellaire

Did someone say family fun? The entire clan will enjoy a comedian, magician, and DJ with dancing in the Lakeview Hotel’s Grand Ballroom for a prime rib dinner show. Doors open at 6pm, and entertainment begins at 8pm. 

Sans kids? Dine at the River Bistro or the Lakeview; the latter provides floor-to-ceiling views of the fireworks at 11pm. (There’s also a fireworks display at 10pm over Schuss Mountain.) On that side of the property, enjoy the adults-only party at Ivan’s with The Phoenix Theory, a dance, pop, and rock group from Detroit.


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