Planning on getting your special someone a dozen red roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day? Snooze! Treat your significant other to a Valentine’s Day celebration that will really knock his or her socks off. Here are TravelMuse’s top 9 annual Valentine’s Day events across the globe:
From Flamingos to Flamenco, Valentine’s Day is full of unconventional possibilities for romance.
Wine Tasting and Chocolate Trail: Niagara-on-the-Lake
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.
Valentine’s Day in the Garden: Atlanta
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 while you eat decadent desserts and sip martinis.
Woo at the Zoo: San Francisco
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.
Plan a Trip to San Francisco on TravelMuse: Feb. 13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Feb. 14, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include zoo admission (visitors 21 and over only). 1 Zoo Rd., tel. 415-753-7080. www.sfzoo.org
Bike Ride for Lovers: Brussels, Belgium
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.
On Screen Romance: Mons, Belgium
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.
Flamenco Festival: Boston
Add some passion to your love life and get a head start on Valentine’s Day at Boston’s annual Flamenco Festival on February 5 to February 6. “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.
Dance the Night Away: Vienna, Austria
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.
Plan a Trip to Vienna on TravelMuse: Feb. 13. Dinner at 6 p.m.; Ball starts at 9 p.m. Tickets range from €105 to €125(US $152 to $181, respectively) with dinner, €47 (US $68) without. For full event information, visit www.soundofvienna.at or call 0043-1-512-57-90.
Run Into Love: Moorea
Spend Valentine’s week on Moorea, a French Polynesian island otherwise known as “The Island of Love.” On Feb. 13, join 600 other runners in the 22nd International Moorea Marathon. Then, stay through Feb. 15 for an island celebration.
Get Married at the Top of the World: New York City
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.
*Adapted from “Valentine’s Day Events to Remember” by Samantha Cleaver. To read the full article go to www.travelmuse.com/articles/romantic-getaways/annual-valentines-day-events.