Your Valentine’s Day Date Guide | 2020
Roses are red,
That much is true,
But violets are violet,
Obviously. Not blue.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, allow us to similarly sift through the many clichéd and predictable Valentine’s date nights on offer, and instead present you with a hand-picked bouquet of 50 excellent date ideas, including – but not limited to – an intimate concert in an old medical museum; a house party in the flat of a 1960s icon; atmospheric readings of some of the most passionate love letters of all time; and the occasional demagorgon.
Happy Valentine’s Day, one and all.
SIP HOT COCKTAILS AT A ROOFTOP POP-UP
The Temperance Punch is literally cooked in a cauldron, on a BBQ. READ MORE
Details: Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, W1D 7DT | £20
LEARN TO MAKE FRESH PASTA AT OFFICINA 00
Because doing it by yourself would be cannelloni.
Details: 156 Old St, London EC1V 9BW | £70
SIP YOUR WAY THROUGH A BLANC DES BLANCS CHAMPAGNE TASTING
They’re the crème de la crème of fizz.
Details: 13th February | Bubbledogs, 70 Charlotte St, Bloomsbury, London W1T 4QG | £60
GO SKATING ON A ROOFTOP
It might not be real ice, but skating in February still gets our vote. READ MORE
Details: Bar Elba, 109-117 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UL | £10
FINALLY GET TICKETS TO LETTERS LIVE
And listen to famous performers read out the greatest love letters of all time.
Details: 14th February | Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT | £60
GO DANCING, 1920s STYLE
The Candlelight Club‘s Valentine’s special is taking place over three floors of a beautiful London townhouse…
Details: 15th February | A Secret Location | £40-65
SPEND THE DAY AT LONDON FIELDS LIDO
It’s heated! Then restore those lost calories with cupcakes at Violet.
Details: London Fields West Side, Hackney, E8 3EU | £5.10
HIT UP A POP UP HONESTY WINE BAR
If your date runs off without paying, they’re probably not a keeper.
Details: 14th February | Benk + Bo, 4-6 Gravel Lane, London, E1 7AW | £8.68
LISTEN TO A STRING SEXTET IN AN OLD PATHOLOGY MUSEUM
Try not to laugh every time they say ‘sextet’.
Details: 14th February | Barts Pathology Museum, 24 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 7BE | £3-7
MAKE CANDLES AT AN EARL OF EAST WORKSHOP
Then use them for a candlelit dinner back home… READ MORE
Details: 5a Gransden Avenue, London Fields , E8 3QA | £48
CATCH 40 WINKS TOGETHER
That is, make a serious effort to win ‘best pyjamas’ at Bedtime Story Nights.
Details: 8th & 15th February | 40 Winks, 109 Mile End Road, Stepney Green, London E1 4UJ | Email firstname.lastname@example.org
WATCH THEATRE UNDERNEATH WATERLOO STATION
This year’s Vault Festival will be seeing in V day with a VR experience filled with different scents; an immersive show taking place in the afterlife; and a version of Saving Private Ryan… with sperm. READ MORE
Details: The Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN
PARTY IN JIMI HENDRIX’S OLD FLAT
And sneak a peek at the room George Harrison stayed in.
Details: 14th February | 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HB | £25
The ultimate anti-schmaltz V day. READ MORE
Details: Arch 25, Handel Business Centre, 73 Bondway, SW8 1SQ | £22-29
BOOK A BACK-ROW SOFA AT THE PLUSHEST CINEMA IN TOWN
And flout the PG rating when the lights go down. READ MORE
Details: Electric Cinema Portobello & White City | £45 for two
CRACK CODES FOR COCKTAILS AT THE BLETCHLEY
And give each other aliases for the evening. READ MORE
Details: 459 King’s Road, SW10 0LR | £36
HUNKER DOWN IN A HIDDEN WINE SPEAKEASY
And share a bottle as you soak up the live acoustic music. READ MORE
Details: 14th February | 82 Camden High Street, NW1 0LT
MAKE A SCENT FOR EACH OTHER AT THE EXPERIMENTAL PERFUME CLUB
Then waft down the road for brunch at Bistrotheque with a live pianist. READ MORE
Details: 4 Netil Lane, E8 3RL | From £25
SEE WHO HAS THE BEST AIM AT FLIGHT CLUB
Spoiler: it’s Cupid. READ MORE
Details: 2a Worship Street, EC2A 2AH | £30
PARTY IN 1900s BOHEMIAN BARCELONA
At the Royal Academy’s late, with artsy cabaret, secret music halls, philosophy salons and more…
Details: 15th February | Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD | £25-75
TAKE A CANDLELIT TOUR OF DENNIS SEVERS’ HOUSE
Then retire for dinner at Smoking Goat. READ MORE
Details: 14th February | 8 Folgate Street, E1 6BX | £15
BOOK LONDON’S MOST ROMANTIC PRIVATE TABLE
This table is tucked away in the most beautiful stairwell in the city (where the Spice Girls recorded their Wannabe video), and you can even serenade your date with opera singers.
Details: Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London, NW1 2AR | £155pp
LISTEN TO JAZZ IN AN OLD RAILWAY ARCH
Then go for a small plate medley at Miss Tapas. READ MORE
Details: 13th February | Peckham Springs, 4-5 Dovedale Trading Estate, London SE15 4QN | £18
LEARN TO SALSA BENEATH A GIANT BLUE WHALE
At the Natural History Museum’s Valentine’s late.
Details: 14th February | The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD | £35
LISTEN TO KEATS’ FIERY LOVE LETTERS IN HIS HAMPSTEAD HOME
He fell for the girl next door, whose nostrils he described as ‘fine though a little painful’.
Details: 13th February | Keats House, Keats Grove, London, NW3 2RR | £10
DISTIL YOUR OWN LOVERS’ GIN
At Half Hitch, you can each bring an ingredient and make your own bespoke spirit.
Details: Unit 53 Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF | £60pp
FEAST WITH LIVE JAZZ ON A 115 YEAR-OLD BARGE
The desserts include ‘drowned toast ice cream’. READ MORE
Details: 14th February | Barge East, River Lee, Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN | From £40
SURPRISE YOUR DATE WITH 70,000 ROSES
They can’t take them home, unfortunately. But they’re just one of several installations at this stunning light festival… READ MORE
Details: Chiswick House Gardens, W4 2QN | £20
GET STARRY EYED AT THE OBSERVATORY AFTER HOURS
Featuring a ‘romantically themed planetarium show’.
Details: 8th & 14th February | Royal Observatory, Greenwich Park, London SE10 8XJ | £24
SKATE, DINE AND BOWL AT SKATE, DINE, BOWL
And maybe squeeze in a little ice go-karting, too. READ MORE
Details: 17 Queensway, W2 4QP
TAKE A TRIP TO THE UPSIDE DOWN
Courtesy of Secret Cinema, and their insanely detailed immersive take on Stranger Things. READ MORE
Details: A Secret London Location | From £49
LISTEN TO THE MUSIC OF NINA SIMONE
Sung by a quintet who have actually performed with her.
Details: 14th February | Camden Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, NW1 7PG | £17.50-25
GET MESSY AT A PAINT PARTY
Paint shapes, then throw shapes.
Details: 14th February | The Lighthouse, 62 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3AY | £7.50-60
GET SEATS AT A SECRET RAMEN POP UP
Make sure you book ahead, or you’ll get in a noodle. READ MORE
Details: 15th February | Secret North London location
GET DRESSED UP AND HEAD TO A MYSTERIOUS MASKED BALL
At Secret Theatre’s latest immersive spectacle. READ MORE
Details: Secret East London Location | From £40
HIRE A HOT TUB BOAT, FILL IT WITH CHAMPAGNE
And chug your way around Canary Wharf. READ MORE
Details: Off Hertsmere Road, West India Quay, E14 4AL | From £225
TAKE A BAG OF COINS TO NOVELTY AUTOMATION
And play a nice romantic game of ‘Divorce’.
Details: 1a Princeton Street, London, WC1R 4AX
PRINT LETTERPRESS VALENTINE’S CARDS
At the evening opening of the National Archive’s exhibition on love letters.
Details: 13th February | The National Archives, Bessant Drive, Richmond, TW9 4DU | £9.60-12
WATCH A QUIRKY SHAKESPEAREAN ROMANCE IN A CRUMBLING OLD MUSIC HALL
Then have a late-night feast at Bravas Tapas.
Details: Until 15th February | Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, London E1 8JB | £22.50-27
HAVE A SPA DAY AT THE RUSSIAN BANYA
Warning: it involves ice cold water and getting whacked with branches. READ MORE
Details: 17 Micawber Street, N1 7TB | From £30
LISTEN TO TALES OF ROMANCE, HEARTBREAK, AND TINDER
Natural Born Storytellers’ true storytelling nights will make you laugh, cry, and be deeply grateful for each other.
Details: 16th February | Backyard Comedy Club, 231 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 0EL | £5
TAKE A TASTING TOUR AT CRATE BREWERY
Then take a tasting tour of new restaurant Silo, upstairs. READ MORE
Details: 13th & 15th February | Unit 14, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN | £15-25
ENTER INTO THE GRITTY WORLD OF 1920s LONDON CRIMINAL WARFARE
In this new immersive show featuring family rivalries and a lot of newsboy caps…
Details: Until 29th March | King William IV, 16 Harper Road, London, SE1 6AD | £28
MAKE A PICNIC BASKET AT BOROUGH MARKET
Stopping at Karaway for some baltic bakes while you’re building the basket, obviously.
Details: 8 Southwark Street, London Bridge, SE1 1TL
…THEN TAKE A PICNIC BOAT ALONG LONDON’S CANALS
Motorboating: officially the most romantic thing you can do on Valentine’s Day. READ MORE
Details: Set off from Merchant Square, W2 1AJ | From £59
SLIP INTO THE AQUARIUM AFTER HOURS
And fill your own tanks at the pop up bars.
Details: 14th February | SEA LIFE London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London, SE1 7PB | From £29
LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC & SPOOKY STORIES IN THE DARK
Who needs mushiness when you can have candlelit tales of the supernatural?
Details: 14th February | A Secret Outdoor Location, SE15 | £9
LISTEN TO GAMALAN MUSIC SURROUNDED BY ORCHIDS
And maybe even discuss having orchids of your own, someday.
Details: 13th & 14th February | Kew Gardens, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE | £18
PAINT PORTRAITS OF EACH OTHER ON A DINNER PLATE
It’s BYOB… but you could always slip off to Ladies & Gentlemen afterwards.
Details: 14th February | The Abbey Tavern, 124 Kentish Town Road, NW1 9QB | £5.95 – 27.39
Last Updated: 20th January 2020 | Main image: The Candlelight Club
Looking for more Valentine’s Day inspiration? Voilà, your ticket to charmsville.