There’s more to Vally Day than chocs and roses - here's 10 things to try around the city
Valentine’s Day is a bit like the Christmas markets, it started off small and charming, then grew into a commercial monster. Britain now lavishes over £1.5 billion on the annual celebration, which originated as a feast to honour some saint called Valentinus.
According to the Holy Grail that is Wikipedia, it was the fourteenth century poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his cohorts who first associated the day with romance. Four centuries later, traditions like flowers and confectionary transpired and - however you feel about 14 February - there’s now no escaping it.
With that in mind, we’ve scoured Manchester for some V-Day inspiration. Whether you’re in a couple or a single pringle, ready to mingle or otherwise.
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WATCH A MOVIE (IN YOUR CAR) | A J Bell Stadium | 10-15 February
Drive-in cinemas combine the best of both worlds: the privacy of a car (oo'er) and the buzz of a big communal get-together. After a successful debut with Key 103 and a spooky Halloween series, organisers are back with another edition of America’s original date night; complete with nostalgic US snacks, a roster of classic romance films, sing-alongs and maybe even some dancing. Even better, there’s no annoying anyone with your popcorn-crunching (or vice versa). For more cinema in unlikely places, don’t miss Village Green’s screenings in the spectacular Gorton Monastery.
CATCH A SHOW | Palace Theatre | 12-17 February
Starring Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton and A1’s Ben Adams, Flashdance follows the story of Alex; a determined welder who dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Naturally, a romance gets in the way, but ultimately her ambitions of attending Shipley Dance Academy are realised. With phenomenal choreography and belters like What a Feeling and I Love Rock & Roll, we’re promised that ‘sparks will fly’…
BOOZE N BOOKS | The Portico | Wednesday 14 February
Hosted by Confidential’s very own food critic and oenophile Neil Sowerby, this group wine tasting in one of Manchester’s most charming literary gems is a must for those who like their books and booze. Wine will be accompanied by sharing boards, and you can even convince yourself it’s educational - after all, viticulture is best learned through the taste buds right?
JAZZ IT UP | The Pen & Pencil | Wednesday 14 February
Like most of the events in this section, a partner is 100% optional - and you’d probably enjoy it just as much bringing some friends along. But whoever you go with, this NQ stalwart’s night of jazz and gin should be a pleaser. There’ll be limited edition ‘Belle of the Ball’ cocktails, £3 Sipsmith gin and tonics and jazz from 8pm with Yemi Bolatiwa. You can have your photo printed onto a bottle of Vedett beer, and it’s free entry too.
BOOK A TABLE | Everywhere
There’s nothing quite like gobbling some great grub for inspiring a bit of romance: you know what they say about hearts and stomachs…
Manchester’s dining scene has gone all out for Valentine's, with highlights including: BOCK’s Chateaubriand sharing fondue with red wine gravy and Yorkshire waffles; 1761’s sumptuous banquet, accompanied by string quartet; James Martin’s four-course dinner with bubbly and entertainment; Masons’ Valentine's or Palentine's in the Grade II listed surrounds of Manchester Hall; Beastro’s three-course feast; San Valentino at The Pasta Factory; and, perhaps the most extravagant V Day in Manchester, Rosso's Tavolo D’Oro (The Golden Table).
Can't make Wednesday itself? Manchester’s ‘most romantic’ restaurant (according to the Italian Restaurant Awards 2015) Don Giovanni will be hosting a special five-course meal on 9, 10 & 14 February too - including a glass of champers with 24-carat gold leaf garnish and Mozart chocolate liqueur truffle to enjoy at home - while FRESS will be putting on some special dishes from 14-17 February, Veeno are giving out free strawberries with their fizz from 12-18 and The Gallery Cafe is hosting an arty supper on Thursday 15.
Least but not least, TNQ will be giving all proceeds from their Valentine's evening to Action Against Hunger - spreading the love indeed.
SHOP VINTAGE | Old Granada Studios | Saturday 10 February
No significant other? Why not distract yourself from the impending day of lurve with a little retail therapy: the preloved kilo sale is back and boy is it big. A £1.50 ticket will gain you access to six tonnes of vintage and retro fashion, sold at just £15 per kilo: grab a bag on entry and get rummaging. Alternatively, pay £14 and get free entry, queue-jumping privilege and one kilo in advance. Tickets are selling fast, so get a wriggle on if you want to go.
LEARN TO SALSA | Revs de Cuba | Wednesday 14 February
For those who are single and ready to mingle, there are few better places to do it than a salsa class. Revs is famous for its Latin dancing, and this Valentine’s Day happens to fall on its Wednesday salsa social. With Latin/Spanish hits from 9pm 'til 3am, and a free beginner class at 6.30pm, it’ll get those endorphins going in no time - and you may even meet a special someone.
GO CRAZY... GOLFING | Junkyard Golf Club | Wednesday 14 February
‘Bring ya pal, ya gal or even ya nan and get down to Junkyard for a night of crazy golf, cocktails and loved up shizzle.’ So say the generous Junkyard Golf team, who will be donating all proceeds to their partner charity Love Support Unite. Expect some sweet cocktail specials, the ultimate ballad playlist and the joy of puttin’ around their three mashed-up courses with a good conscience.
LAUGH IT OFF | Frog & Bucket | Wednesday 14 February
If the thought of spending Valentine’s alone - only a bottle of wine and Tinder for company - isn’t cutting it, get yourself off to the Frog for the perfect antidote: a good giggle with three national comedians. Kate Lucas, Simon Wozniak and Danny McLoughlin feature in this V Day special, which is ideal for singles and couples alike (the latter can even dine out and book a candlelit table for two).
GODS OF LOVE | Waterstones | Friday 9 February
After something a little different in the run-up to Valentine’s? Why not enjoy some literary loving at Waterstones, where local author Nicola Mostyn will be launching her debut novel The Gods of Love: a warm, quirky love story whose heroine just happens to be descended from a Greek God. Blending warmth, magic and plenty of humour, it’ll have you chuckling whatever your stance on romance. The first 100 people to attend the launch will receive a tube of love hearts and a raffle ticket; winner gets a gift bag containing signed copy, Yankee candle, Prosecco, ‘posh coffee’ and some Hotel Chocolat goodies.