Valentine's Day in London - an alternative guide

Looking for something a little different this Valentine's Day? Russell Cook explores alternative Valentine's activities in the capital for lovers and singles alike.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 8th Feb 2013

Valentine's Day, like it or loath it, is here again - and whether you’re in a relationship or are a happy singleton, it’s the one-day with the genuine ability to induce unexpected and seriously unwelcome bouts of anxiety. 

So, let’s try to make some sense of the occasion: if Christmas is for families, and Easter is an excuse for a long weekend off, then Valentine's Day should be an opportunity to have some fun. Here's our pick of alternative activities to help make Valentine's Day unique for both the loved-up and the lone rangers amongst us. 

Future Cinema will be screening iconic romance, ‘Casablanca’ (main image) from Valentine's Day itself right on through until Sunday 3rd March at the wonderfully historic Troxy cinema on Commercial Road. Audiences will be invited to “step inside the world of Casablanca as the Troxy is transformed into the most exclusive night-spot in town.” While Sam’s Piano belts out the chorus of Marseillaise, and Benoit Viellefon and his Orchestra fill up the dancefloor, audiences can dine at the Blue Parrot Café with catering provided by acclaimed Spanish/North African restaurant Moro and go in search of secret bars and secret bands as they relive the famous love story itself.

For the traditional romantics, City Cruises are offering a romantic night-time Cruise, with a 3-course meal, a complimentary glass of champagne, wine and smooth lovey-dovey music from a live band. The whole trip will take lovers along the Thames giving them the chance to experience some of the city’s most dramatic skylines as they travel beneath Tower Bridge and towards the towering metropolis of Canary Wharf. The cruise takes place on Valentines Day and tickets are selling fast!

However, for couples looking to celebrate their love a little differently, the capital has some quite novel ways to do so. Between the 14th and 24th February, Hidden City’s ‘Cupid’s Conundrums’ gives couples the chance to “uncover the capital’s romantic side” by deciphering cryptic clues and seeking out secret destinations. Starting at a “wine bar off a quiet side street” couples will “approach a barman with a coded question.” The barman will then give couples a wine taster, from which the answer to the evening’s first clue must be discerned. After texting in the correct answer, the following clue will be received. So, if your relationship isn’t already challenging enough, this event could be just the fun you’re after.

But, February doesn’t have to be all about couples and Valentines, does it? What about the single folk among us? February 28th sees team up with Time Out to turn the London Eye into the Wheel of Date. For “one complete revolution each of the 32 capsules will be turned into a different, activity-based dating experience. 500 single Londoners will be split into groups of 16 and each will be allocated a ‘Dating Capsule’. Each one of these will offer something uniquely different, including Ping Pong tournaments, table football competitions, stand-up comedy (from the Comedy Store), karaoke, and a cinematic experience from none other than Future Cinema. The whole evening will be wrapped-up with an after-party at The Old Vic Tunnels, where you can mingle, drink and chat with 484 other Wheel of Daters who weren’t in your capsule.

It’s clear then, Valentines in London doesn’t have to be a testing, anxious affair; with a little thought and planning, couple and singles alike can make the most of what the capital has to offer. So, forget the stress of finding the “right table” at the “right restaurant” at the “right time”, because, there are so many rich and varied options that have the potential to make for a much more memorable and pleasurable time.

Words: Russell Cook 

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