Looking for something different to do in London this Valentine's Day? Here's our pick of romance-themed events and Valentine's date ideas in London on and around 14 February 2020.
Valentine's Day at the Natural History Museum
OK, a building which sees thousands of school trips traipsing through it every year doesn't scream romance, but bear with us. Natural History Museum is turning up the charm for an adults-only evening of courtship and copulation — in the animal world, that is, and explored through various talks and activities.
Take part in beginners' salsa classes, valentine's screen printing or an LGBTQ+ natural history trail, or simply explore the exhibits after hours. Your ticket includes access to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.
Valentine's at the Museum. Tickets from £30, 14 February 2020.
Valentine's evening with the stars at Royal Observatory Greenwich
Ah, that's more like it. A romantically-themed planetarium show under the stars, accompanied by a hot drink. The Royal Observatory goes all out for star-crossed lovers, with a late night opening where you can meet professional astronomers, stand on the Meridian Line, or gaze through a Victorian telescope, as well as taking part in some serious stargazing.
A Valentine's Evening with the Stars. Tickets £24, 8 and 14 February.
Valentine's Late in the Painted Hall
Staying in Greenwich, another Valentine's party takes place down the hill at the Old Royal Naval College. The much-celebrated, and recently restored, Painted Hall stays open late for an evening of "Fizz, foxtrot and baroque romance". Guests will receive a free glass of prosecco before embarking on a Valentine's themed tour of the magnificent building. You can also join in a beginner's dance class, so long as you bring flat shoes.
Painted Hall Late at the Old Royal Naval College. Tickets £30, 14 February.
With Love exhibition preview at The National Archives
Just in time for V-Day, National Archives opens its With Love exhibition, featuring love letters from within its record. Peruse romantic ramblings from a queen, a prime minister and other figures, telling stories of heartbreak, passion and disappointment. Kleenex at the ready, we think.
Valentine's afternoon tea on a boat
Let your other half know that they float your boat with a Valentine's Day afternoon tea cruise on the Thames. Board your City Cruises vessel at Tower Pier, and receive a glass of champagne and a red rose. Tuck into sandwiches, scones and cakes as you pass some of London's landmarks, while a live jazz band serenades you.
Valentine's night storytelling with London Dreamtime
Storyteller Vanessa Woolf and musician George Hoyle of London Dreamtime team up for an event in a secret SE15 location. It's not your usual Valentine's event — expect scary storytelling in the dark, including horror stories from the local area. Wrap up warm, and bring a candle in a jar.
Valentine's Night: Unlucky. £9, 14 February.
Sick of Love at Keats House
We're promised love, jealousy and passion at Keats House's Sick of Love themed late-night opening. Actors play the roles of poets John Keats and Fanny Brawne, who were engaged from 1819 until Keats' death in 1821. Readings and activities take place throughout the house where Keats once lived, and a bar is open all evening.
"She manages to make her hair look well —her nostrils are fine — though a little painful — he[r] mouth is bad and good" is what Keats once wrote of Brawne in a letter to his brother George. Passion indeed.
Sick of Love at Keats House. Tickets £10, 13 February.
Love Poetry of London walk
Meet at St Paul's Cathedral for a free walk around the City of London, hearing the secrets of famous figures such as Samuel Johnson and Jane Austen. It's a poetry walk, so expect to hear others sharing their lines — or pen your own, and bring them along to read.
Love Poetry of London, free, 14 February.
Rooftop cinema at The Berkeley
The Berkeley's Rooftop Winter Cinema is still going strong, offering screenings of The Greatest Showman and You've Got Mail through until February. There's a special Valentine's screening of When Harry Met Sally, with the 1989 film shown under starry (hopefully) skies, with fluffy blankets to cuddle up under, and hot water bottles to keep you warm.
Rooftop Winter Cinema at The Berkeley. £300 per couple, including the Aspen-themed food menu, unlimited mulled wine and hot chocolate, and a bottle of champagne. 14 February.
Alternative and anti-Valentine's Day events in London
Galentine's Day at Prince Charles Cinema
Leicester Square's legendary Prince Charles Cinema hosts a Galentine's Day double screening on 13 February. Take your female friends along to watch Greta Gerwig's 2018 directorial debut Lady Bird, followed by 2019 hit Booksmart.
(The cinema does also have a Valentine's programme, if that's more your thing).
Anti Valentine's Day murder mystery
Events company Smudged Lipstick is better-known for its dating events, but if you're not feeling the love this year, it's got you covered with an Anti Valentine's Day Murder Mystery, taking place 29 floors above the Thames. It's not a dating event, and is set in a speakeasy bar in 1920s Chicago. You have to speak to various suspects and piece together clues throughout the evening to figure out who killed a big time gangster. Tickets are almost sold out, so be quick.
Valentine's Day food and drink in London
Valentine's cupcake at Hummingbird Bakery
As always, mini-chain Hummingbird Bakery delivers on the novelty baked goods front, with an extensive Valentine's Day range. Treat your loved one to heart-bedecked cupcakes or whole cakes, including chocolate and red velvet options. There's even a Valentine's rainbow unicorn cake, if you're feeling extra.