If you haven’t already guessed from the heart-shaped chocolate boxes lining supermarket shelves, influx of jewellery adverts clogging your Instagram feed and countless listicles about romantic gift ideas, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. Soon, the florists will be having a field day with a carousel of loved-up customers and restaurants will be filled with besotted couples clinking champagne glasses – whether you’re looking to count yourself among them or after something a little bit different to treat your partner to (think love quizzes and indulgent afternoon tea), you’re sure to find the perfect February 14 date idea below…
1. Tuck into high tea at the Grand Pacific
Admit it: the Bridgerton binge-watches and scrolls through Insta foodie accounts have left you with a craving for some demure dining with perfectly cut sandwiches and jam-smothered scones. If you fancy a spot of delicious luncheon this Valentine’s Day, you could always throw some heavy hints at your partner or just cut some corners and book a date at the Grand Pacific for High Tea. The opulent restaurant sits in Spring Garden, with colonial-inspired interiors that pairs striking golden pineapple chandeliers with dark wood furnishings and tropical wallpaper, you could almost imagine spreading a map across a table and plotting your next adventure, explorer style. This February, you’ll be able to enjoy a selection of exotic savoury treats and sumptuously sweet tarts, mousses and brûlées with their special Valentine’s Day high tea.
2. Listen to romantic classical music at this Candlelight: Valentine’s Day Special
Know someone who silently mouths every line of the DiCaprio-starring Romeo + Juliet film with uncanny accuracy or has a well-thumbed book of the Shakespearean play sitting pride of place on their shelf (that wasn’t just a result of high school English literature revision)? Then this may be the perfect way to spoil them this Valentine’s, as this romantic candlelight concert brings the music from the tale of the star-crossed lovers – alongside a selection of other romantic favourites – to life, with a beautiful performance from a talented string quartet illuminated by flickering candlelight. This ensures a dreamy evening where you can cosy up together, soak up the magical harmonies and forget the stresses of the world. Find out more here.
3. Dig in to delicious desserts at GRUB’s Beer and Pud Club
If your Valentine is a sucker for a sweet treat and partial to a craft beer they will be showering you with love if you take them to this delectable evening at GRUB. The colourful street food market is pulling out all the stops, with Valentine’s tunes providing a romantic soundtrack to your evening, a free rose for each guest and and cosy environments where you can unwind and savour each others company. The sumptuously sweet cherry on top? You’ll get to devour bespoke desserts (all of which are vegan friendly) from four GRUB favourites: Bake-O-Rama, Dohlightful, Drizzle City Bakes and That Vegan Bakery, and wash each one down with a craft beer that will have been thoughtfully chosen to complement each dessert’s unique flavours. Find out more here.
4. Unleash your competitive side playing The Fat Big Quiz Of Love
We’ve all been there: the thought of going out fills you with dread and you’d much rather be slouching at home, trackie bottoms on, drinks easily plucked from the fridge (no long waits at bars for you) and just chilling on the sofa with your partner. You might feel obligated to do some sweeping romantic gesture this Valentine’s Day, but sometimes the best things happen inside your four walls. This Fat Big Quiz of Love will especially be a hit if you’ve both got a competitive streak; a virtual interactive game where you can stay home, tune into a live video stream and put your knowledge of the world of love to the test through 10 rounds of interactive questions. The format is inspired by the hit show Big Fat Quiz Of The Year so if you’ve seen that and both found yourself shouting the answers through the screen at Jimmy Carr, then this quiz will be right up your street. Plus, it takes place on February 12, so if it leaves you extra lovestruck you’ll still be able to go out on Valentine’s Day itself.
5. Soak up the amazing work of Michelangelo at Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition
There’s something pretty romantic about taking in a work of art with someone, whether it’s discussing what the piece evokes inside you, giggling about some of the bizarre facial expressions depicted or just simply standing in comfortable silence and admiring the beauty of it all. If your holiday plans to jet off to Rome have been put on hold but you still fancy seeing Michelangelo’s breathtaking masterpiece, then you can do that this Valentine’s Day at this Sistine Chapel exhibition. Opening on February 11, this fascinating experience gives you the chance to see the infamous frescoes up close using a combination of high-definition photography and a special printing technique. The mesmerising details you’ll discover at this exhibit are also sure to give you plenty to discuss over a romantic dinner later.
6. Kick off the day with a mouthwatering breakfast at Caramello of Didsbury
Nothing says I love you quite like chocolate-drizzled waffles, syrup-smothered pancakes topped with juicy fruit and a heart-shaped patisserie adorned with a chocolate-covered strawberry. One way to ensure your Valentine’s Day gets off to a good start is to swing by the Caramello of Didsbury, an artisan cafe that serves up an irresistible variety of breakfast and brunch dishes, sweet treats and creative coffee concoctions – butterfly pea latte anyone? Your partner knows they’ll be in for an extra special day if you take them here in the morning, and the utterly Instagrammable presentation of each tasty plate doesn’t hurt either.
7. Escape to the spellbinding nature of Blackley Forest
Sometimes all you need is to get away from the hectic buzz of the city and hunt down some peace and quiet in the wilderness together. Blackley Forest is just the place to do that. There you can wander along twisting trails dappled with sunlight that shines through the thick canopy, spot kingfishers on the River Irk and keep an eye out for the deer that are often seen roaming through the trees. It’s ideal if you’re after a bit of reconnection – with nature and with one another.
8. Face your fears together at the Camelot Rises: Immersive Zombie Experience
Ok, we know what you’re thinking – this doesn’t sound very romantic – but the prospect of flesh-eating zombies getting their hands on you actually makes for a great bonding experience and serves as a perfect ice breaker for a first date. After all, you quickly forget any semblance of awkwardness when you’re faced with a reanimated corpse staring hungrily in through your car window. This Valentine’s, you can swap stilted conversations in overpriced restaurants for a nostalgic trip to Camelot Theme Park. There, you can drive in and expect to face zombie attacks – with fake gore, flashing lights, smoke and all the works – before parking up to watch a horror classic on the big screen. Now if snuggling up in front of a petrifying flick doesn’t (literally) scream romance, we don’t know what does.
9. Embark on a Private Romantic Tour of Manchester
Explore the most romantic spots in the city with your loved one this February. Who needs the Eiffel Tower or gondola rides around Venice when you’ve got the variety of charming locations to be found just a stroll away. Following a professional guide, you’ll be shown the best places to have a date, the most Insta-worthy settings to take some smitten shots together and learn of some historical love stories that unfolded in the streets and buildings of Manchester. Find tickets here.