The Alternative Valentine’s Day Guide
Rip up the rulebook to romance - and get loved up with our heart-shaped guide to Feb
It’s that heart-shaped time of year again, and we say it’s time to rip up the romance rule book … no soul-sucking dinner-for-two with a wilting rose here, thank you very much.
We’re here to help you avoid the Hallmark hell of a cliched Valentine’s Day with 10 of the most quirky and cool things to do in Wilts and beyond.
Read on for our ultimate how-to guide for a fabulous – and very alternative – Valentine’s Day.
Go, go, go lovebirds!
FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS: Valentine’s Raw Chocolate Workshop, Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford-on-Avon
Woolley Grange has teamed up with chocolatiers ‘Elements for Life’ to put together the ultimate Valentine’s treat. Discover how to make homemade dairy and gluten free chocolates. Recipes includes smooth chocolate love hearts, a delicious fudge and chocolate mousse. enjoy.elementsforlife.co.uk/woolley-valentine
It’s a date: Thurs 13 Feb
FOR SAUCY CABARET: Valentine’s A Drag
Where are we going? The Subscription Rooms, Stroud
Persuade me, tiger: Valentine’s A Drag (see what they did there?) is one hot grrrl-friend of a night out, not only is it highly saucy but slightly bonkers and what’s not to love about that. Featuring the fabulous LBGTQ+ DJs Sink the Pink (fresh from their Notting Hill set) – prepare for one of the most ‘out there’ and quirky nights in the UK.
With sold out shows at Brixton Academy and The Roundhouse they are now into their 10th anniversary. Expect high octane pop, higher octane hair, circus performers, light shows and some very special surprises. It sounds like a riot of fun. Tickets start at £16.50.
It’s a date: Friday 14 February at 8pm
FOR SUPER COOKS: Sourdough Special Cookery Day, Vaughan’s Cookery School, Devizes
Fancy doing something a bit different for Valentines Day? Treat your loved one to a therapeutic & fun Sourdough Special Cookery Day. Sourdough bread is becoming increasing popular for a variety of reasons. It has a good proportion of firm, crisp crust to soft, light crumb and is full of holes. It’s easier to digest, as it is made from cultured yeast, plus full of flavour. Known to have health benefits, it contains more vitamins and minerals and is lower in sugars than other breads. All you need is water, flour and salt plus some ‘know-how’ to make the long, slow fermentation process work. Lunch & refreshments are included and you’ll take your handmade goodies including a sourdough starter kit home. www.vaughanskitchen.co.uk
It’s a date: Saturday 15 February
FOR THEATRE LOVERS: Dial M for Murder, Theatre Royal Bath
Stage version of Hitchcock’s iconic 1954 film. When charismatic and manipulative Tony Wendice, a jaded ex-tennis pro, discovers his wife Margot has been unfaithful, his mind turns to revenge and the pursuit of the ‘perfect crime’. With Tom Chambers (Holby City, Casualty, Strictly Come Dancing etc) and Sally Bretton (Not Going Out, Death in Paradise).
It’s a date: Tues 11 Feb – Sat 15 Feb
FOR COOL COCKTAILS: Galentine’s Day
Where are we going? The Cosy Club, Cheltenham
Persuade me, tiger: Ok, first rule, just never repeat the word Galentines in public! (Cringe alert). But pal-power on Valentine’s Day gets our vote every time. Get your friends together and enjoy any six tapas dishes and four cocktails for £48 at Cosy Club Cheltenham – we LOVE that the month of love can be all about girl-mates.
A great excuse to round up those errant friends you’ve not seek for yonks and celebrate your fabulous friendships, with a Passionfruit Mojito or Vanilla Espresso in hand, of course.
It’s a date: Thursday 13 February, from 11am – 10pm
FOR MOVIE NIGHT WITH MATES: Chicks and Flicks at Barnsley House
Where are we going? Barnsley House, Cirencester
Persuade me, tiger: Yes, yes, you could go with your other half but can we just take a minute to gaze upon this hot pink leather private movie palace?? Let’s be honest, it seems criminal not to go with a gaggle of girls. The gorgeous Barnsley House is the setting (it’s tucked away in the pretty grounds) and the state-of-the-art cinema has its own popcorn machine and waiter drinks service.
The seats are all double sofas and so much fun to sprawl out on, especially if you snuggle under one of the fleecy blankets they provide. Take in hit film ‘Alfie’ on the 14th, or head there on the 12th for A Star is Born or 16th for Notting Hill. Because love is about sharing your popcorn right?
It’s a date: 12, 14 and 16 February
FOR COMEDY BUFFS: Hench – Comedy Show, Pound Arts Centre, Corsham
Jessica Fostekew takes to the stage to explore her strength as a female. Her hilarious take on feminism and gender stereotyping is refreshing, funny and well thought. You’ve seen her in BBC sitcoms Motherland and Cuckoo, so don’t miss your chance to catch her on the live stage. poundarts.org.uk
It’s a date: Thurs 13 Feb
FOR MUSIC LOVERS: Clare Teal and her BIG Mini BIG BAND, Theatre Royal Bath
100 years of pop music from award-winning jazzer and Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal.
It’s a date: Sun 16 Feb
FOR GETTING FILTHY: Pottery classes
Where are we going? The Clay Loft, Stroud
Persuade me, tiger: Because can anyone look at this and not hum the entire Ghost soundtrack to themselves? We challenge you. Pottery is so hot at the moment, it’s the craft du jour, so get your hands thoroughly filthy at the brilliant Clay Loft in Amberley, Stroud. Classes are led by master potter Adrian Bates and cover all the techniques you’ll need for throwing your own pots on the wheel as well as hand-building. Classes are limited to 12 people for a fabulously intimate experience.
It’s a date: Throughout Feb, open 6 days a week from 9am to 9pm.
FOR PILLOW TALK: Howard’s House Hotel
Where are we going? Howard’s House Hotel, nr Salisbury
Persuade me, tiger: We’ve snooped out a seriously cool stay for you here, and it’s a real hidden gem. Wiltshire’s best kept secret is a country house hotel but in true indie style – it might be nestled in an idyllic Wiltshire village but everything inside is just that little bit different. And when it comes to cooking it really is unique – ingredients are homegrown or locally sourced, seasonal ALL the time and dishes inspirational. Bedrooms are indulgent with lots of lovely touches, the location is picture perfect and you’ll bump into wildlife (deer, pheasant, fowl) around every corner. Bliss.
It’s a date: Friday 14 February
FOR GREAT VIEWS: Valentine’s Tower Tour
Where are we going? Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester
Persuade me, tiger: Take a romantic trip to the top of Gloucester Cathedral, for breathtaking views across this historic city. There are *only* (ehem) 269 steps, and 225 feet to clamber up, so perhaps leave the stilettos at home for this one. Vertigo is no match for the truly in love we say!
Once you’ve staggered – I mean skipped merrily – to the top, hand in hand, you’ll get a glass of prosecco, or a non-alcoholic alternative to enjoy, and you’ll be blown away by the really stunning views that go out for miles. A rare and romantic chance to see Glos from a birds eye perch.
Tickets cost £16.76 per person and can be purchased from the Cathedral gift shop or online.
It’s a date: Friday 14 February
FOR TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC: Light Up Cheltenham
Where are we going? Light Up Cheltenham, The Imperial Gardens
Persuade me, tiger: Because it’s like the London Eye but without the eye-watering price and crowds – win win. The gorgeously scenic Big Wheel is returning to The Imperial Gardens in Feb and as part of V day celebrations on the 14th, it and the entire town will be turned bright red as part of the Light Up Cheltenham show. Walk hand in hand, and ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the spectacular views and colours. You’ll leave rosy-cheeked and all twinkly in your heart, we promise.
It’s a date: From Sat 1 Feb – Sun 23 Feb
And if you’re hot-footing it to London for the day or night (oo you adventurous romantics you) here are 3 of the best to look out for …
FOR ONE-UPPING THAT BOX OF CHOCS: Rococo Chocolate Truffle Workshop
Where are we going? Rococo’s Belgravia Store, London
Persuade me, tiger: Like we really need to, yes? Master the fine art of truffle making at this swanky workshop and guarantee yourself an upgrade on a box of Celebrations this year. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing original about a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but being able to put ‘Artisan Chocolatier’ on your LinkedIn is.
Founder of Rococo’s Chantal Coady has an OBE for services to chocolate, so you’re in for a class that’s a cut above the rest. Led by a trained chocolatier you’ll explore all the techniques used by the pros from fashioning the salted caramel itself, to piping it into shells. If there’s any left (unlikely) you also get to take them home with you.
It’s a date: Saturday 15 February, 11.30am – 1.30pm
FOR DITCHING BORING BOUQUETS: Valentine’s Floristry Workshop
Where are we going? Daylesford Pimlico, London, SW1W 8LP
Persuade me, tiger: Being given flowers is soo 2019, why not make your own? Check into this make-your-own bouquet course at Daylesford in London for a day that is guaranteed to be really fun, and god, smell so great. You’ll be guided by local florist and flower designer (we actually want her job) Kat Argent.
Learn how to make a hand-tied set of seasonal blooms like you see in the best florist shops. The class covers colour, tones and structure and at the end of the day take away a pro-looking bouquet for that special someone you (or indeed yourself).
It’s a date: Tuesday 12 February, 6pm-8pm
FOR DANCING LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING: Madonna – Madame X Tour
Where are we going? London Palladium
Persuade me, tiger: This special residency runs for 15 dates in February and we think the promise of spangly corsets is more than enough reason to get yourself down to the London Palladium pronto, non? At 61 (what!?) and still flexing with the best of them, it’s going to be one darn sexy night of a show.
No giant stadiums here, just some up close, intimate warbling from her Madgesty. Never under-theatrical, expect the unexpected with this pop icon, amongst the new songs there’ll be jokes (fairly blue – so very fitting we think) and lots of cheeky banter with some lucky punters.
It’s a date: Thursday 13 February, Saturday 15 February and various dates through Feb