The path of true love may never run smooth – but there’s certainly better scenery to be found off the beaten track. With no red roses, rom-coms or three-course dinners in sight, try winning hearts in less obvious style with our pick of unusual date venues for Valentine’s Day and beyond.
Getting trussed up in ropes and harnesses might sound like a daring choice for a first date, but it’s all good clean fun at Leeds Wall. Even if neither of you have ever climbed before, a one-hour taster session will have you ascending and then safely descending graded indoor crags under the helpful eye of a skilled instructor. Astonish your date with your athletic prowess – or at the least, demonstrate a sporting sense of humour as one false move leaves you flailing like an upturned tortoise in mid-air.
Holbeck Underground Ballroom
Hidden away in five railway arches, Holbeck Underground Ballroom is home to Slung Low, the company who turn restless dreams and ‘what-if’ conversations into must-see theatre, and also regularly hosts visiting productions of exciting new work. You won’t find plush red seats or budget-busting stagings here, but with forthcoming shows including Sleepwalk Collective’s anti-theatrical Karaoke and Michael Sabbaton’s one-man adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu, the romance is in the risk-taking.
Leeds Museum Discovery Centre
In rainforests across the globe, bower birds toil ceaselessly curating and displaying collections of pretty things in order to catch the eye of a mate. We humans have museums and galleries to do the job for us – but if you really want to impress a potential paramour, bypass the usual spots and book a behind-the-scenes tour at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre. The concealed bulk of the city’s archival iceberg, the Centre houses more than a million treasures, including an extinct Tasmanian tiger, countless anthropological, textile and social history artefacts and one of the UK’s largest shell collections. The free tours take place on Thursdays with around an hour spent exploring the Centre’s stacked shelves, seeing – and in some cases, touching – a selection of items that can be tailored to your interests. Call 0113 378 2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Belgrave Feast, Belgrave Music Hall
It’s there every Valentine’s Day: the pressure to find The One. But why tie yourself and your date down to a set menu in an overstretched restaurant when you can let fickle tastebuds roam free in a wonderland of flavours? February’s instalment of Belgrave Music Hall’s monthly street food jamboree is perfectly timed for romance-seekers, with a sizzling line-up that includes North African and Middle Eastern bites from newcomers Caravanserai, vegetarian Punjabi flavours from Manjit’s Kitchen and hot dog handler Meet Frank.
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
One for advanced daters. Attempt only if you’re sure you can raise your game enough to wrestle your sweetheart’s attention away from the cornucopia of big-eyed rabbits, gambolling lambs, quizzical alpaca and snuffling pigs found at this inner-city oasis of cuteness. Should you fail and end up playing gooseberry to a goat, console yourself with a nice box of freshly laid eggs from the on-site farm shop.
WORDS BY ABI BLISS