Sharpen your Cupid’s arrow and take your sweetheart to one of these annual love events held around the world.
Need Valentine’s Day ideas? To help with your Valentine’s weekend planning, here are a few annual Valentine’s Day events from around the globe to spice up the occasion. Celebrate with traditional flowers and chocolates, or attend an Austrian Ball, listen to a racy zoology lecture in San Francisco or take a romantic bike ride in Brussels. Wherever you are, the chance for romance is near. Of course, if you miss the festivities this February, there’s always next year.
Wine and chocolate are known aphrodisiacs, and you’ll find both 20 kilometers (about a half-hour drive) from Niagara Falls. Each Valentine’s Day, 20 wineries around Niagara-on-the-Lake pair their signature wines with different flavors of chocolate. At Peller Estate Merlot is paired with coriander and at Palatine Hills Estate cabernet sauvignon goes with apricot, to name just two.
Take the Trip: Jan. 7 through Feb. 23. Call the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce for more info (tel. 905-468-1950) or visit www.niagaraonthelake.com.
On Valentine’s night in Atlanta, Ga., the Atlanta Botanical Garden turns into one long Lover’s Lane. Stroll candlelit paths, gaze at orchid displays paired with abstract art glass (part of the Orchid Daze exhibit) and listen to jazz by local singer Gabbie McGee while you eat decadent desserts and sip martinis.
Take the Trip: Feb. 14, 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $25 for individuals, $40 for couples (for members: $20 for individuals, $35 for couples). 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, tel. 404-876-5859. www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org
Get some sex education this Valentine’s Day at the San Francisco Zoo, where zookeeper Jane Tollini explains how animals from penguins to porcupines show their affection, shall we say. Come for brunch, with mimosas and a full French toast buffet, or for dinner that ends with strawberries dipped in chocolate.
Take the Trip: Feb. 7, 6 p.m.; Feb. 8, 12 p.m.; Feb. 14, 12 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include zoo admission (visitors 21 and over only). 1 Zoo Rd., tel. 415-753-7080. www.sfzoo.org
The annual Bike Ride for Lovers takes you, dressed in your best red and pink spandex, through the streets of Brussels. The three-hour ride starts after dark at the Pro Velo non-profit bike shop and takes you past the city’s most romantic fountains, buildings and bridges. Along the way, you’ll hear stories told in the language of love (what else but French) and stop at a local café to spend time flirting over espresso.
Take the Trip: Visit Pro Velo (www.provelo.be) for more information.
Belgium has another annual Valentine’s Day event, which shouldn’t surprise since the country does make some of the best chocolate in the world. The Mons International Love Film Festival tackles new ways to look at the idea of love through rare and controversial films. See love in all its forms through movies that make the main screen, or in smaller film competitions that highlight directors in developing countries, independent films, limited release films and, of course, shorts.
Take the Trip: Feb. 13 to 20. Lotto Mono Expo, www.fifa-mons.be.
Add some passion to your Valentine’s Day at Boston’s annual Flamenco Festival 2009. “Flamenco is more than just a dance,” says Mari Katsigianis, organizer of the Boston festival. “The dance grew around the guitar playing, and that grew around the singing that is the focal part of flamenco.” The tradition started in Andalucia, Spain, and has developed over hundreds of years. “The dancing is tremendous when it’s done well,” says Katsigianis, which it’s sure to be with famed flamenco artist La Conja performing on Valentine’s Day.
Other performers include the Isabel Bayon Company from Seville, Spain, on Valentine’s Day Eve, and Noche Flamenca is coming from Madrid to perform Feb. 14. To make the Spanish-style holiday complete, dine at one of Boston’s best tapas restaurants: Dali Restaurant and Tapas Bar, Tapeo or Tasca Restaurant in Brighton.
Take the Trip: Feb. 13, 8 p.m; Feb. 14, 8 p.m.; Feb. 15, 2 and 7 p.m. Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College, 219 Tremont St. Tickets: $65, $50, or $40. Tel. 617-876-4275, www.worldmusic.org.
Don your finest gown for the Johann Strauss Ball. Each year, the ball takes over the entire Kursalon Wien in Vienna, with a black tie dinner, lessons in the Viennese waltz and four dancing rooms that play everything from classical to ‘90s hits.
Take the Trip: Feb. 14. Dinner at 7 p.m.; Ball starts at 9p.m. Tickets range from €99 to €119 (US $127 to $153, respectively) with dinner, €45 (US $58) without. For full event information, visit www.soundofvienna.at or call 0043-1-512-57-90.
Spend Valentine’s week on Moorea, a French Polynesian island otherwise known as “The Island of Love.” On Feb. 7, join 600 other runners in the 21st International Moorea Marathon. Then, stay through Feb. 15 for an island celebration.
Every year, 14 couples come to the Empire State Building in New York City on Valentine’s Day to say their vows. If you want to say “I do” at the “top of the world” next year, submit an essay that explains why you should be among the select few. Essays are due in October and couples are chosen in November.
Themes: Romantic Getaways