The Downtown Christmas Tree, Corner of Front and Cass
The Downtown Christmas Tree, Corner of Front and Cass
By MIKE NORTON  Ah, the famous Lake Effect! Once again, our winter snow machine is churning away.  Here on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, lake effect is a regular winter phenomenon. As the cold air moves down on us from the Canadian northwest, it passes over the (relatively) warm waters of the lake and creates bands of snow-filled clouds, interspersed with brief periods of clear sky. One minute the sun will be shining, and the next you won't be able to see across the street because of all those big fluffy flakes.  (I'm just glad I finally got all the firewood split and stacked.) Hey, it's why we live here in the winter. I think the winter of 2010-2011 is going to be another great ski season - but even if your idea of winter sports is snuggling down next to the fireplace with a good book, a lake-effect snow is the stuff of Christmas cards. It's just so darned beautiful!
The Wellington Inn -- all Dolled Up for Christmas
The Wellington Inn -- all Dolled Up for Christmas
 Speaking of Christmas cards, there are so many wonderful holiday events going on around Traverse City this week. This past Sunday, the Wellington Inn held the first of its weekly "Inn at Christmastime" open house events. From 2-6 p.m. on the next two Sundays, the stately 1905 mansion in Traverse City's historic Boardman neighborhood -- filled with a spectacular display of holiday designs and decorations - is open for public tours, followed by holiday sweets and hot mulled cider in the third floor ballroom. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information call 231-922-9900 or visit www.WellingtonInn.com  Each December, the dance department at the Interlochen Center for the Arts puts on one of three traditional holiday ballets in Corson Auditorium. This weekend it'll be the Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky's classic 1890 fairy tale of enchantment, true love and magical kisses. These performances are always brilliantly executed, and a real treat for Christmas! To find out more contact the Interlochen Box Office at (800) 681-5920 or  ticket.interlochen.org  A little more audience participation is called for at the Traverse Symphony Orchestra's annual Sing for Joy concert at the City Opera House. This annual concert is a much-loved part of the Traverse City Christmas tradition, and for the first time in many years Maestro Kevin Rhodes will personally be on hand with a  parade of vocal soloists and  holiday favorites. There's an evening performance Saturday at  7:30 and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. Call (231) 947-7120 or log on at  traversesymphony.org  Interested in a more small-town version of holiday music? Take the drive up to the little village of Northport, at the top of the Leelanau Peninsula, where they have a lovely community-style Christmas concert featuring over 100 performers (must be almost the town's entire winter population) including the Village Voices and the Northport Community Band all playing in the local Community Arts Center. I've been to this one, and it's worth the drive. Saturday's performance begins at 8pm and Sunday's matinee is at 3.  Phone: (231) 386-5001 or go to www.northportcac.org