Romance and culture: a match made in heaven. We round up the assignations that will get the grey cells ticking over in tandem with racing pulses.

Flowers and trinkets are, of course, wonderful. But if you’re not keen not to add to the pile of yet more stuff, why not make this Valentine’s Day about a cultural experience instead? Whether at a blockbuster exhibition or at the theatre, cultural enlightenment is ideal for stimulating great conversation, as well as giving a brilliant focus to the day. It need not all be about hearts and roses; intelligence and an engaged mind is every bit as attractive as dashing looks, after all.

These are the hot tickets that will surely spell a day or night to remember.

One Love Experience


Saatchi Gallery, 2 February – 18 April


Fancy making your way through the One Love Forest? Or visiting the Soul Shakesdown Studio for a multi-sensory experience that celebrates one of the most all-time beloved figures in music? You can do just that and more at the One Love Experience, which makes its world debut at the Saatchi Gallery this month and then stays there until midway through April. Photos of and artworks by the reggae legend will be on display, to be viewed to the soundtrack of his songs, naturally. For us, though, it’s all about those immersive rooms. Guaranteed to have you and your amour humming, ‘Let’s get together and feel alright’ as you stumble back out into the day. £18. Book it here.


Van Gogh Self Portraits


Courtauld Gallery, 3 – 8 May


Does your beloved prefer their culture hit at the darker, more tortured soul end of the spectrum? This small but perfectly formed exhibition at the Courtauld displays sixteen of Van Gogh’s self-portraits, using the collection’s iconic ‘Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear’ as its hook. Through these images, you can trace his life, through a formative period in Paris through to the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. £16. Book it here.


Wuthering Heights


National Theatre, 3 February – 19 March


Adapted by Emma Rice, Emily Bronte’s classic gothic tale of love, revenge and Cathy and Heathcliff’s fierce love was labelled ‘emotionally epic’ by The Times. Elemental, wild and brutal, this would not exactly be a sweet Valentine’s date; however, for those who wish to inspire a darker passion, this play promises, according to The Daily Telegraph to ‘unleash the fire and fury of Brontë’s genius’ and be ‘wild and exhilarating.’ Ideal then. From £20. Book it here.


Cyrano De Bergerac


Harold Pinter Theatre, 3 February – 12 March


The Jamie Lloyd Company’s Olivier award-winning production of Cyrano De Bergerac was on at the Playhouse Theatre in 2019 to much acclaim. Now, post theatre’s reopening, it has been reprised at the Pinter, with James McAvoy reprising his role as the brilliant Cyrano, who longs to win Roxane with the power of his words. An extraordinary, Hamilton-esque revival of the well-worn classic, with McAvoy breathing life and energy into the titular role. If your date is into the power of words, this is a no-brainer. From £39.50. Book it here.


Amy: Beyond The Stage


The Design Museum, until 10 April


Our reverent awe for the doomed genius of Amy Winehouse remains undiminished in the decade since she died at the untimely age of just 27 back in 2011. This excellent exhibition at The Design Museum tells her story through recordings and teenage notebooks, costume and memorabilia, including her blue Daphne Fender Stratocaster guitar. All proceeds go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. £14.50 (free to members). Book it here.


Titanic: The Exhibition


Dock X London


Wandering around a replica of a doomed ship may feel like a somewhat leftfield idea for a Valentine’s date. And yet there’s no denying that the world of the ill-fated passenger liner was extraordinarily glamorous and, yes, romantic too. This extraordinary exhibition recreates the infamous ship, and features hand-written letters and luggage as well as testimonies of those who survived the tragic event. Wander through the cabins, from first class to third class, with the aid of an audio guide. From £18 per person. Book it here.


Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child


Hayward Gallery, 9 February – 15 May


Giant spiders may not immediately spring to mind when you think of romance. And yet this retrospective of Louise Bourgeoise’s later work in fabric is undeniably beautiful. The artist once said, ‘I have always had a fascination with the magic power of the needle. The needle is used to repair the damage. It's a claim to forgiveness.’ Go, revel in the extraordinary work – and then discuss over a glass of wine overlooking the Thames. Valentine perfection. £15. Book it here.


By Nancy Alsop
February 2022

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Nancy Alsop

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