When Mack and I first started dating, our approach to Valentine’s Day was pretty traditional – Mack bought me flowers and chocolates, and we went out for dinner. Over the past few years though, we’ve opted to stay in, choosing to save our entertainment dollars on a night not dominated by prix-fixe menus, timed table turnovers, and the air of a perfunctory meal.
That said, many restaurants do still offer a first-rate experience even in such a climate, but given the number of Valentine’s Day alternatives I’ve stumbled upon this year, I think there is a general appetite to shrug off the dinner standard in favour of something a little different. For us, this means a paired wine and chocolate tasting put on by Baseline Wines and Jacek Chocolate Couture the week prior to Valentine’s Day.
So for your planning pleasure (Valentine’s Day is just two weeks away!), here are fourteen alternatives to dinner with your sweetheart. Note, some of the events do take place before or after the big day, but are noted as such:
For the romantics
- What’s more romantic than a moonlit stroll with your valentine? And since February falls during our winter season, it only makes sense that this stroll would be done on snowshoes. The John Janzen is running this special after-dark event on February 1 and 8, 2013. Participants will look for animal tracks, warm up with apple cider, and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride to end the evening! Tickets are $20 each.
- An inexpensive way to take advantage of our winter wonderland is to make use of one of the City’s many public rinks and skate under the stars. Although the picturesque Victoria Oval is closed to the public on February 14, there are numerous other rinks that will be open. Skate to your heart’s content!
- Serenade your sweetheart with songs from none other than Irving Berlin. On February 8, 2013, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra takes on his well-known songbook which features songs like “Cheek to Cheek” and “Falling In Love Is Wonderful”. Tickets from $20.
For the food and wine inclined
- I wondered why Baseline and Jacek weren’t offering the wine and chocolate pairing on Valentine’s Day itself, but I soon found out why: they’re booked to lead the same tasting at the Muttart Conservatory on February 14! Tickets are $79 each.
- Is there a saying that a couple that cooks together, stays together? There must be, given that couple’s cooking classes seem to be all the rage. The Pan Tree in Sherwood Park picks up on this trend, offering up their recipe for romance: a three course dinner featuring mussels, rack of lamb and a chocolate crème brulee. Registration is $75.
- I know there’s more than a few people out there who would proclaim bacon their valentine if given the opportunity. Shovel & Fork is teaching a class on February 17, 2012 on how you can make your own bacon and other cured meats – why not learn this skill with your sweetie? The buy in is $80 per person.
- For chocoholics, making your own sweet treats may be more up your alley. Get your hands dirty and learn how to make your own chocolate with the City Arts Centre. Registration is $45 per person.
- The Freewill Shakespeare Festival is hoping to inspire romance and raise money at their Brunch o’ Love at the Hotel MacDonald on February 10, 2013. Attendees will enjoy an elegant brunch and champagne, and have the opportunity to bid on silent auction items. Tickets are $85.
- For the Love of Wine, deVine’s stand-up wine tasting on Valentine’s Day highlights several love-themed wines, including Red Lips and Saint Armour. Tickets are $30.
- The Art Gallery of Alberta has organized a new Valentine’s-themed event called Cold Night, Hot Date. The food alone makes it a worthwhile event (I love the idea of a build-your-own cheeseboard), but with romantic shorts, old world carnival games, and exhibition tours, it sounds like it will be a great night! Tickets are $95 each.
For the cynics
- The High Street Social Club is organizing an Anti-Valentine’s Day party to take place on February 17, 2013 at the Manor Cafe. Expect a menu where you can literally eat your heart out (beef heart tartare) and be cheeky (cherry cola and chilies with braised beef cheek). Tickets are $55 each.
For the unconventional
- How about a blind date for your valentine? The Citadel’s popular show Blind Date is back, just in time for February 14! One lucky man in the audience gets pulled on stage for an evening of improvised fun. Tickets from $35.
- For more improv, Rapid Fire Theatre is hosting its annual Wildfire Festival from February 12 – March 2, 2013. The student improv festival celebrates the talent Alberta has to offer.
- Spend Valentine’s Day exploring your Star Wars identity at the Telus World of Science. It’s a wonderful exhibition for those who love the films, but also those who appreciate the art of moviemaking.
Happy Valentine’s Day!