7 ways to celebrate – or avoid – Valentine’s Day in London
Valentine’s Day rolls around again this 14 February.
We get it, it can be triggering, especially if you’ve recently been through a break up or aren’t feeling sure of what you want romantically right now.
So these events are inclusive for everyone, whether you think Valentine’s Day is a commercial, exploitative waste of space or the ultimate ode to love.
Here are 7 London events for this Valentine’s Day, from interesting talks on the future of love to restaurants, comedy, tours and cabaret.
A history of prostitution
If Valentine’s Day is triggering for you then why not celebrate London’s storied history of prostitution? It’s something different from watching a load of lifelong couples snogging over dinner. This guided walk journeys through 300 years of sex worker history in London, spotlighting brothel runners, the women themselves and the men who frequented these spaces. Around Covent Garden on 13, 15 and 15 February.
The Golden Hinde near London Bridge is your go-to if your vibe is “I hate Valentine’s Day”. That’s right, a whole evening has been programmed to help you dismantle the tradition. Comedy, burlesque and stand-up, and an Anti-Valentine’s Cocktail, are all included in the price. “Happy unimaginative consumerist entirely arbitrary interpretation of romance day!” reads website material. Sign us up. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is hosting a similar anti-Valentines ball vibe on the 14 February too.
Valentine’s Day is a scary prospect, which is the theme of London Dreamtime’s evening of scary stories which all have an “unlucky” twist. Expect tales of “horrific urban legends” and live music to accompany storytelling. The organisers ask that you “dress very warmly, bring something to sit on and a candle in a jar,” and email email@example.com for more information and to book. 12 February in Peckham.
Interesting talks about sex and dating
How about a talk on ‘ancient sexuality’ for an offbeat way to get inspired for your future relationships this Valentine’s Day? Professor Marguerite Johnson uses archeological evidence and translations from Greek and Latin literature to present takes on sexuality from the before times, taking place online. Or a talk on asexuality and bisexuality from a couple of academic campaigners platforming alternative lifestyles? It’s taking place at the Conway Hall Ethical Society on 15 February.
If you’re going out to eat
We can imagine snuggling up in Cafe Koko, one of our new restaurant picks. It’s a chic new pizzeria in the iconic music venue that recently reopened. Live music is often programmed, and there are comfy banquette sofas to bed into for cocktails and unusual pizza, like one with goat’s cheese, lamb shawarma, coriander and garlic yoghurt.
Odes to love
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is providing an alternative to the silliness this Valentine’s Day with a proper concert at Cadogan Hall. Music will span film scores, opera and classical music. Doctor Zhivago and Romeo and Juliet soundtracks feature, as well as classics by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Chopin and Verdi.
Laugh your way through it
Laughter is best dispensed on Valentine’s Day. We need the best medicine to get us through the smooching couples and piles of sickly-sweet cards in shops. There’s a big Valentine’s social at The Penny Social in Walthamstow that combines comedy, live music, magic and circus acts, and a beer or glass of wine is thrown in.
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