Good old V-day has swung around again, and somewhat unsurprisingly, it’s pretty hard to ignore here in Cabot Circus. Shop windows all around our shop have been transformed into shrines to pink and red hearts, candles and boxes of chocolate abound, and the massive teddy bears have emerged once more from the shadows - I knew they’d been waiting for their chance.
Obviously, I’m not against anyone celebrating anything however they want to. But what if you fancy celebrating Valentine’s Day in a bit of a more low-key way? What if you fancy avoiding pink and red hearts altogether? What if you want to celebrate your friends and family (or IMAGINE THIS - yourself!) instead of a romantic partner?
So without further ado, here’s a small collection of ideas you can use as a springboard for a super special Valentine’s Day that doesn’t involve a plastic-covered basket of fruit :)
*Advance warning - a fair percentage of these are Bristol-based ideas - but lots can be adapted for wherever you happen to be spreading the love on the 14th, so please keep reading if you’re not a Brizzle local!
1. Celebrate your love of the performing arts by booking to see a play at a local theatre! There’s some fantastic performances coming up at the Old Vic, if you’re based in Bristol. So why not have a peruse at their schedule for the next few months, and get something in the diary to look forward to? You could go for a nice little wine before the performance and make it into a proper little night out!
2. Go for a swim - the benefits of cold water swimming are well-documented, but if you’re not such a fan of cooler climes, why not book a trip to a heated lido? There are lots popping up all over the country, (the one in Bristol’s Clifton Village is particularly nice, as it has a sauna and does fancy breakfast, too) but if you happen to find a chilly lake or river to dip in, remember to bring tea and biscuits to wrap up warm with afterwards or bring a picnic.
3. Book a workshop to do together. There are lots available via YUUP, all over Bristol - not just creative ones, necessarily, but great skill-expanding options for all kinds of people. Book a new experience for yourself, you and your best pal, or you and your partner - we’ve got lots on at Prior Shop, including lino printing, scent blending, sewing workshops and jewellery-making classes. Love it.
4. Music is always a great way to connect with someone, so I’ve found two very different gigs happening in Bristol on V day - a Valentine’s Day concert at the beautiful St George’s (just off Park Street) featuring the Bristol Ensemble, is my first suggestion: the line-up is a wonderful mix of truly romantic songs - from the worlds of film, opera and classical music. It sounds like it’ll be a really special night. My second gig idea (bit of a change of pace) is a FREE D&B rave at Motion. To be honest, I’m not sure what’s specifically romantic about this event apart from it being called a ‘Valentine’s day Drum & Bass Rave’, but there’s only one way to find out. They’ve also said ‘Don’t have a Date, Bring a Mate’. Ideal!
5. Send love to your local town by shopping local and independent (wherever you find yourself). Your local shops spend so much time spreading joy and love out into their communities, that it would be really nice to spread that love right back at them. There are some great suggestions for Bristol Independents you can support via this directory - pretty much all who’ll have some amazing V-day gifting ideas for yourself (or others, if you must).
6. Fed up with mindlessly swiping Hinge? Bored of online chat up lines? Well look no further, because Lakota are hosting a Blind Date night on Tuesday! They promise ‘an evening of comical entertainment, questionable flirting and Y2K bangers’ - what more could you ask for?
7. Life Drawing is a great way to feel connected to your artistic side (even if you don’t have fancy art supplies), and you don’t have to completely strip if you don’t want to! Why not gather some paper, pencils and props and have a giggle connecting to each other through the medium of drawing. If you’re more interested in joining in an organised event, you can celebrate community, queerness and self-love in a way that’s promised to be ‘low-key’ at Cafe Kino’s Queer Life Drawing Event - a great way to practise self-care, and celebrate Valentine’s Day in a calming, candlelit environment.
8. Watching your favourite film (doesn’t have to be romantic, obvs) is a great way of feeling cosy and connected - especially if you transform your living room into an oasis of calm and quietude with some candles and/or low lighting. However if you fancy something a little more out-and-about, the fantastic team at The Sundial Kitchen are hosting a two-course meal and a screening of the endlessly romantic Casablanca - which sounds WELL nice! If you’re not based in Bristol, why not see if a restaurant near you is doing a meal & film screening combo? It’s such a nice idea to support an indie restaurant and rewatch a classic piece of cinema.
9. My final good idea is to go to an independent bookshop and buy each other a book as a present - then go to a local cafe and sit peacefully and read the first few chapters. It’s a nice idea to support a local business and to have some time peacefully, together - which I suppose is what Valentine’s day is all about, really.
As I’m writing this blog I’m asking other team members to suggest ideas as I've got a bit stumped, and one that’s just come up is:
‘See if you both fit in the bath!’
I don’t know if that suggestion is all that appropriate for this blog post but the idea’s been floated now! It's number 10! There’s no going back! (I think it’s a great one, for the record).
That’s all I’ve got for you, lovers. Most important thing: celebrate however you want to (which can of course be not at all).