YES, it’s now become another commercial exercise - dictated by card chains and chocolate companies - but Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore. After all, it’s a longstanding tradition rooted in Christianity, whose romantic connotations date to the fourteenth century. Plus even the most cynical amongst us will admit it’s nice to feel appreciated from time to time.
From wining and dining to attending a concert, there’s plenty to enjoy with your other half in Manchester this Valentine’s. Don’t have a significant other? No matter. We’ve found five things to do that will suit, regardless of civil status: from cuddling cats to Bongo’s (bloody bonkers) Bingo.
So, coupled or otherwise, check our handy roundup of things to enjoy this Valentine’s in Manchester. You’ll be feeling the love in no time...
WINE AND DINE | Various venues
From Lady and the Tramp’s iconic spaghetti scene to Vianne Rocher casting a spell over dashing gypsy Roux in Chocolat, food plays a pivotal role in many a romance - on screen or off. Yes, the way to someone’s heart is undoubtedly through their stomach. With that in mind, Manchester restaurants are putting on a tempting spread for Valentine’s; highlights include Grafene’s seven-course taster, Zouk’s sumptuous banquet complete with lobster tails, and North Star’s ‘Aphrodisiac’ vegan feast. And what about Don Giovanni on Oxford Road (pictured below), recently voted the UK's most romantic restaurant?
GO TO THE MOVIES | Victoria Baths | 10-11 February
When the Village Green events company hosted a pop up cinema at Victoria Baths over Christmas, tickets sold out faster than you could say Elf. Little surprise, then, that they’re returning with another innings for Valentine’s weekend with more film favourites at the historic ‘water palace’. Grab your seat in the empty swimming pool and enjoy a very unique cinema experience; with a choice of 10 Things I Hate About You, Moonrise Kingdom and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Local DJ Jimmy the Gent will be bringing the tunes, nosh comes from Caribou Poutine and Ginger’s Emporium - and yes, there’ll be a well-stocked bar too. For more Valentine’s film nights, check out 53Two, Gorilla and Band on the Wall.
TRAVEL TO BROADWAY | Bridgewater Hall | Saturday 11 February
Not literally of course, unless you’re planning an imminent jolly to New York. No holidays forthcoming? Fortunately, the Halle are bringing Broadway to the Bridgewater Hall, with a special concert featuring some of our best loved musicals. Conductor Larry Blank is joined by vocalists Matthew Ford and Emma Williams, as the orchestra recreate classics like Something’s Coming (West Side Story), All I Ask of You (Phantom of the Opera) and Moon River (Breakfast at Tiffany’s). A ‘touch of romance’ guaranteed.
PLAYTIME | Hope Mill Theatre | 13-18 February
And by that we don’t mean any hanky panky... we mean Hope Mill Theatre’s Valentine’s special, The Art of Loving Lexi. If loving someone is an art, how do you turn it into a masterpiece? Ten Ninety Productions’ premiere follows couple JJ and Lexi as they strive to find out. With Ancoats now supposedly touted as one of world’s ‘hippest destinations’ and Hope Mill fast gaining critical acclaim - despite only opening last year - don’t miss a visit to this theatrical treasure, currently shortlisted for The Stage’s ‘Fringe Theatre of the Year.’
AND ALL THAT JAZZ | Matt & Phred’s | Tuesday 14 February
“There's something about a dimly lit back street jazz club,” say Matt & Phred’s, “that makes people declare their love and on many an occasion propose to their loved one.” A little sweeping perhaps but we get their gist. The Northern Quarter jazz spot is heating up Valentine’s Day proceedings with some ‘deep and husky soul’ courtesy of singer-songwriter Charlie Cooper, whose inspirations include the likes of Nina Simone and Carol King. With two sittings, early booking is advised.
BEFRIEND A MOGGY | Cat Cafe | 12-16 February
Who needs a human when you can have a furry film companion instead? The Cat Cafe’s Valentine’s Movie Week promises popcorn, blankets and the company of feline friends along with your romantic sitcoms. Whether you’ll be a pussy magnet is anyone’s guess but, if you’re lucky, the kitty clan might reward you with a ‘snuggle’ or two. Think cat cinema sounds a load of fluff? The cafe now hosts everything from yoga to crafts and even speed dating.
PLAY BONGO’S BINGO | Albert Hall | Monday 13 February
Jonny Bingo and his sidekicks Sweaty Betty and Slutty Sue are back to unleash some bingo balls in this Monday night special: with some particularly crap prizes up for grabs, not to mention rave rounds and dance offs, who cares if you’ll be spending tomorrow on your lonesome? Get some friends together and prepare for some Monday mayhem, as the ‘bastardised bingo’ returns to Albert Hall. Fancy a round of philanthropic golf instead? Tomorrow sees Junkyard Golf host a one-off ‘Love Specs’ special, with 100% of ticket revenue donated to charity projects in Malawi.
LAUGH IT OFF | Comedy Store | Tuesday 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 Comedy Store for the perfect antidote: a good chuckle. With a lineup including Allyson June Smith, Justin Moorhouse, Daliso Chaponda and MC Tom Wrigglesworth, expect surefire sniggers and no doubt some very unromantic anecdotes.
LEARN FLAMENCO | Cervantes Institute | From 20 February
Forget the dance partner, flamenco is all about going it alone. This fiery dance encapsulates the passion of Andalusia; with handclapping, finger snapping and lots of disciplined movements. Fast and full of attitude, it’s a great form of self expression and offers the chance to try something new. There are three different levels, each with the opportunity to learn fresh choreography for a dance form such as palo. ¡Olé!
HOST A COCKTAIL PARTY | Home | Whenever you like
There’s little better way to celebrate your solo status than gathering a few fellow singletons together and having a shindig at home, particularly when there’s quality alcohol involved, fortunately The Cocktail Party in a Box have three special Valentine’s boxes to choose from, ranging from deluxe to chocolate and bubbly. As ever, you’ll get all the utensils and ingredients you need to make several signature cocktails at home; promising a whole lorra laughs along the way.