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Alternative Valentine’s Day ideas

Not the romantic type? Here's Muddy's top 15 offbeat picks for Valentine's Day fun that won't make you cringe.


Go to see a Film 

KiKi Layne and Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk. Photo: Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Picture/Tatum Mangus/Annapurna Pictures

Special Valentine’s Day Film Screenings on Thu Feb 14 include a 2pm matinee showing of 70s classic The Way We Were with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford and 2012’s offbeat romcom film with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook, 7pm, at the Royal Spa Centre’s Cinema, Leamington Spa ( Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing at 8.30pm, (; while the Everyman in Stratford is screening Notting Hill (20th anniversary) at 8.30pm, and A Star is Born at 7.15pm, (everymancinema)Alternatively, if you’re looking something more up-to-date there’s Oscar winner Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s beautiful novel set in early 1970s Harlem, about a young black couple, pregnant Tish and her boyfriend Fonny (KiKi Layne and Stephan James), whose love story is interrupted when Fonny’s jailed on a false rape charge (out on Feb 8). Kenneth Branagh’s new film about Shakespeare’s home life, All is True, is also out, partly-researched at Stratford’s Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.


Love gin?

A brand-new Gin Club is launching at Muddy Stilettos award-winning bar, Fizzy Moon Brewhouse in Leamington Spa on Thur Feb 14This eclectic buzzy bar in a lovely renovated Victorian townhouse has a fantastic Fizz and Gin bar and will be serving up tapas, live music by the Sugar Sweet Duo and new flavour  gins/+cocktails (Tickets £20pp), fizzymoonbrewhouse


See former Mercury Music Prize winner Talvin Singh 

The former Mercury Music Prize winning percussionist, producer and composer is renowned for creating the bridge between Indian and electronic music. He will be joined, at Warwick Arts Centre at the University of Warwick, Coventry on Thu Feb 14 by his band to play music from his award-winning 1998 album OK as well as new work, including his own tribute to Ravi Shankar, £21, warwickartscentre


A gorgeous snowdrop walk and a country pub

Warwickshire has so many breathtaking walks through woodlands, along the waterside, country parks and stately homes. This weekend there’s snowdrop walks at Ragley Hall, Alcester and Hill Close Gardens in Warwick on Sat (11am-4pm) in aid of the NGS, celebrating all things galanthus, including more than 100 varieties on show.  Stylish rural pub with rooms, The Bell, Alderminster, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon is extending its Valentine’s Day fare for three days from Thurs Feb 14 to Sat Feb 16. Enjoy Valentine’s sharing options as special additions to the menu along with pink gin, pink fizz and pink cocktails.


Food and a romantic comedy at the RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon

Rehearsal photo by Topher McGrillis (c) RSC

Woo your other half with a trip to see one of Shakespeare’s funniest romantic comedies and go for a 2-course meal in one of the cool retro booths at Susie’s Cafe Bar at The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon beforehand. Kimberley Sykes’ exhilarating version of As You Like It opens on Thurs February 14 with a diverse cast of 27 actors including Lucy Phelps as Rosalind, David Ajao as Orlando, Antony Byrne as Duke Senior/Duke Frederick and Warwickshire’s Amelia Donkor from Leamington Spa, making her RSC debut as Silvia. Interestingly, the company will next month embark on a complete gender swap in Justin Audibert’s The Taming of the Shrew where the women will play men; and vice versa.

The RSC is offering a 2-course meal, plus tickets to the show, for £30, or 3-courses & tickets for £35 on Thur Feb 14, Fri Feb 15 and Sat Feb 16. Tel: 01789 331111 and quote ‘Valentine’s Meal & Drama Offer’, rsc

Be inspired by Verve Poetry Festival, The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham, Thur Feb 14 – Sun Feb 17

Listen to the likes of Wakefield poet Matt Abbott, one of UK poetry’s rising stars. in a historic Birmingham tap house on one of the Overheard Walking tours.

This charming contemporary poetry festival is spot on for culture vultures. Four days of workshops, walks, cross-genre performances and a showcase of contemporary poetry. On Valentine’s Day there’s the Overhear Walking Tour with the likes of award-winning Birmingham poet Roy McFarlane and Wakefield’s Matt Abbot which sounds fun – stopping at The Gunmakers Arms, Birmingham Whiskey Club, 1000 Trades and the Wolf (1.5hrs), 4.30-6pm. You can buy a £15 joint ticket also taking in the Poetry Parlour with Andrew McMillan and RAP (Rhythm and Poetry) Party with Inua Ellams for a night of hip-hop inspired poems. There’s a packed line-up, check it out: vervepoetryfestival


Have dinner or a sleepover in a castle

If it’s unusual settings you’re after this historic fairy-tale folly is hard to beat! The Castle At Edgehilll serves up delicious locally-sourced food and even has B&B rooms in the tower. For couples planning on tying the knot there’s a Wedding Fayre in the pub on Thurs, Feb 21 (5.30-8pm). A sit down 3-course Valentine’s Day dinner is £40pp, limited availability. Tel: 01295 670255, castleatedgehill


A comedy night

Jay Foreman

Very funny comedy singer-songwriter Jay Forman and talented Welsh-born stand-up Jenny Collier are appearing at Apehangers Bar’s Comedy Club in Leamington Spa, on Thur Feb 14. The Compere for the evening is Tiernan Douieb. Headliner Jay has performed 4 critically acclaimed sold-out shows at Leamington Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, including Disgusting Songs For Revolting Children, No More Colours and Mixtape,


A Cocktail, Ale Tasting or Gin Masterclasses

Depending on your favourite tipple these masterclasses are good for couples or single friends alike where you can enjoy making (and drinking!). The Botanist, Coventry which opened last November in the newly transformed former Wilko’s store, runs a wide variety of different 90-minute sessions for groups of 6+ for £25 each, https://thebotanist


Indulge in a sunset spa treatment 

Gorgeous 4-star Mallory Court has loads on offer this Valentine’s Day including an indulgent Sunset Spa allowing you to relax with a glass of fizz on arrival, a 55-minute ESPA treatment and full use of spa facilities (£50). Why not treat your other half to a traditional afternoon tea with pink champagne (£27.50pp), a Valentine’s Day dinner in the Brasserie with cocktail and canapes included (£45) or splurge on a Valentine’s 5-course Tasting Menu (£80)?  Tel: 01926 330214 to book, mallory


Catch Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

 Matthew Bourne’s menacing, witty and unique production of Swan Lake has won tons of awards and rightly so. It’s best known for the all-male corps-de-ballet – unheard of in the ballet world before – but it’s an all-round winner even if you’re not a ballet fan.  It’s currently on at Birmingham Hippodrome, ending Feb 15. birminghamhippodrome


Make a romantic gesture

Write a love note to your partner and hang it up in the parlour at Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband, the physician John Hall on Thurs Feb 14, shakespeare


Go to a gig

Courtesy of Fire Records

This is purely down to personal musical taste. Indie-lovers may enjoy grunge alt-rocker Evan Dando and his band, The Lemonheads, playing at O2 Academy, Birmingham on Fri Feb 15 – best remembered for their 1992 cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson. They return to the UK after a decade’s absence to perform tracks from their new covers’ album, Varshons 2, including their take on songs by Yo La Tengo, John Prine, Lucinda Williams, Nick Cave and even Christina Aguilera.


A hip getaway

Wanting to book a romantic overnighter? Dine on a 3-course Valentine’s menu and a glass of Champagne at Stratford-upon-Avon’s new Hotel du Vin in Stratford then retire to a luxurious room for the night and wake to a full cooked breakfast in the Bistro the next morning, from £200, hotelduvin


See an art show

Leonardo da Vinci, The head of an old bearded man, c.1517-18 RCIN 912499

Catch the exhibition everyone’s talking about – Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and book a table at the Edwardian Tearooms Late – an after-hours event on Thur Feb 14 in the stunning Industrial Gallery, transformed into an elegant fine dining setting. You and your partner can enjoy a 5-course meal with live music from folk artist Robert Lane, 7-9pm. Tickets: £47.50 pp. birminghammuseumsTo book a table Tel: 0121 348 8084.

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