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London’s international culture comes into its own in the next few weeks, with Burns Night, Australia Day and Chinese New Year fast approaching. With that in mind, try one of these international themed date ideas and get involved in London’s multicultural offerings.
North of the border
If whisking your significant other away to the romantic cobbled street of Edinburgh for Burns Night isn’t an option, there are plenty of London alternatives. The Duke’s Head in Putney are offering a three-course Scottish-themed meal on 25 January, including haggis, deep-fried Mars bar and Irn Bru sorbet, accompanied by poetry readings (booking required). Bag pipes compulsory, kilt optional. If the sorbet is a step too far, try one of these ceilidhs and parties or restaurants and bars to celebrate Burns Night.
A barbie on the beach just doesn’t cut it in these climes – let’s face it, the Thames is no Gold Coast – so why not take your Sheila or Bruce to the movies to celebrate Australia Day instead? On 25 January, The Clapham Grand is screening Oz comedy film The Castle, followed by live comedy from Australian comedians. Get your tickets here. If this doesn’t float your boat, try one of these seven ways to celebrate Australia Day.
Chinese New Year
If London does one thing well, it’s a party. On Sunday 2 February the West End will be abuzz with the Chinese New Year celebrations. Dragons and lions will roam the streets to welcome the year of the horse, creating ample opportunities for damsel in distress type scenarios. The parade route takes in Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue, culminating in a day-long festival in Trafalgar Square. Alternatively, avoid the crowds and head to a Chinese restaurant away from Chinatown.
London’s Brazilian Carnival 2014 kicks off from 1-4 March. Get yourselves ready for the action by joining a free Forro dance class at Brazilian bar Guanabara. The weekly classes take place on a Sunday, and if you find yourselves enjoying it, the 3rd London Forro festival takes place 14-16 March.
If someone says ‘Russian’ to us these days, our minds automatically hop to ‘meerkat’. Five years ago, however, we would have thought ‘vodka’, and that’s where we’re heading with this (presumably one makes for a better date theme than the other, although the morning after may be cause to reconsider). Nikita’s restaurant and bar near Brompton Cemetery has an extensive vodka list, and customers are encouraged to join with the many Russian vodka drinking traditions. If you need something to soak the vodka up, the restaurant menu is heavily Russian-themed too. If there’s room for more Russian in your life, visit this exhibition of Soviet film posters , on until 29 March (we’re guessing it’ll work better if you do the exhibition before hitting the vodka).
Late night Cuban
If your party looks like going late into the night, head to Cubana, a Cuban themed bar and restaurant near Waterloo, which doubles up as a Salsa club after 11pm on Friday and Saturday evenings. Whirl your date around the dance floor in sync with live Latin and Cuban music until the small hours – just ensure they aren’t wearing a glass slipper before you get too attached.
Out of Africa
Put some African sunshine in your step with an African drumming workshop in Greenwich. Test out your partner’s sense of rhythm in a drop-in session, or make a longer commitment with an intermediate course. First session is free.
The Italian Job
Call us old fashioned, but we can think of no better way to spend a lazy London Sunday than with a trip to Little Venice. Whilst the Regent’s Canal Towpath is more glamorous than it sounds, a truly lazy Sunday necessitates getting the Waterbus, a canalboat service from Camden Lock, kicking back and watching London wash past. Find the Waterbus Winter timetable here. If you want a real Italian flavour to the day, head to Italian restaurant The Red Pepper for a bite to eat.
See also: Ideas for dating around the clock in London.