20 Original Valentine’s Day ideas around the UK
There’s nothing wrong with a dozen red roses and a candlelit dinner, of course. But if you really want to pull out the stops this Valentine’s Day, why not go the extra mile? These alternative date ideas will get you optimum brownie points, whether you’re courting a clued-up culture buff, a discerning foodie or an adventure-seeking nature lover
Put your skates on
Funky beats, neon lights and holding hands as you glide under a giant glittering disco ball… Welcome to the roller-skate date. Let the good times roll at Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace in White City, London, which does a ‘Late Skate’ session after 10.30pm.
Go to a secret gig
Take your loved one on a musical adventure with Sofar Sounds, which organises live music shows in the most unexpected places. It could be funk in someone’s front room or reggae on a rooftop. The twist? You’ll only find out the exact venue and artists the day before the gig.
Nothing beats sailing into the sunset with your soulmate. Coastal Exploration Co. offers year-round nautical adventures in North Norfolk, exploring the salty creeks and open sea aboard one of its traditional wooden sailing boats (opening image). You could even… brrr… go swimming.
Catch a cute exhibition
The CUTE exhibition at London’s Somerset House explores the emotive charge of cuteness and is Valentine’s Day nirvana with its flowers, hearts and fluffy kittens. Bag a table at Skye Gyngell’s restaurant Spring for a post-show debrief.
Shuck an oyster
Oysters have a reputation as the food of love, so book a masterclass with The Oyster Lady (aka Katy) in Newquay, Cornwall. You’ll learn everything you need to know about the aphrodisiacal mollusc, from the different species to how to shuck one.
Meet the real-life Carrie Bradshaw
Cosmopolitans at the ready. Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell is coming to UK theatres this February with her one-woman onstage memoir, True Tales of Success, Sex and Sex and the City. Whether you’re a Carrie or a Mr Big, sit back and enjoy as Candace takes you on the whirlwind journey of her life.
Find natural harmony
The Dreaming wellness retreat in Powys, Wales, is set amid ancient woodland, where spiritual practitioners lead everything from mythic storytelling to stargazing, foraging to forest bathing. A dream come true for those who like to walk on the wild side.
Bust some grooves
They say those who dance together, stay together, so boogie down to Pineapple Dance Studios in London’s Covent Garden for a lesson from the pros. With 400 weekly open classes in 40 styles, from Brazilian Samba and Afro Vibez to hip hop, it’ll put a whole new spin on your rendezvous.
Reach for the stars
Look to the night sky with a one-hour stargazing experience at home. An experienced astronomer will take you on a journey across the universe, pointing out the twinkling constellations – and all from the privacy of your own back garden.
Join a murder mystery tour
Jump aboard the restored 1920s British Pullman train for a murder mystery journey. A five-course lunch, Champagne and derring-do as you chug through the English countryside in Art Deco glamour: how romantic is that?
Embrace the space age
The Winchester Science Centre celebrates the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon this February. Visitors are invited to fly through the solar system in the Planetarium while listening to the album’s iconic tracks. It gives a whole new spin to the moonlight serenade.
Seek creature comforts
Looking to fall otterly in love? The Beauty and the Beasties evening at Edinburgh Zoo starts with a ‘cheeky adults-only talk’, followed by a meet-and-greet with the zoo’s friendliest residents and a candlelit three-course meal with wine.
Keep it sweet
York was once known as Chocolate City, home to some of the longest established chocolatiers in the business. Keep tradition alive by signing up for a masterclass at York Cocoa House, where you can learn anything from caramel-making to crafting chocolate from bean to bar.
Get on the scent
Create a fragrance together at Floris, a centuries-old perfumery in Mayfair, London. An in-house perfumer will guide you through the three-hour process, during which time you will make your own individual, totally bespoke eaux de parfums.
Go along for the ride
Hire a tandem and follow a graffiti art trail around Bristol. Not only will you see some of the earliest examples of work by the famously elusive Banksy, who once called this city home, but you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle made for two.
See the big picture
Bring the reel romance by hiring out a screening room at The Cinema at Selfridge’s in London. The Date Night Package means you’ll have the entire place to yourself, watching the movie of your choice with popcorn and cocktails.
Take centre stage
The Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden is home to Britain’s oldest national opera and ballet companies. Learn about its colourful history on a behind-the-scenes tour before a glass of fizz at the Champagne Bar.
Reinvent the wheel
Channel your inner Patrick Swayze or Demi Moore and get behind the pottery wheel. Skandihus Pottery offers private classes at its studios in London (Clapton, Walthamstow and Camden), where you can learn hand-building techniques and wheel-throwing.
Make a meal of it
Food is said to be the language of love, so sign up for the Cooking with Your Valentine course at Daylesford Farm in the Cotswolds. Over a full day, you’ll prepare a delicious feast that you can then share over a glass or two of wine.
Go off-grid in an American school bus that’s been converted into luxury accommodation sleeping two, with a marble-tiled wet room and outdoor hot tub. The bus’s Lake District location changes throughout the year, but you’re always guaranteed a bucolic setting.
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