Celebrating Valentine’s Day has been a tradition in Great Britain since the 17th Century. February 14th was originally marked as a Christian feast day to celebrate the martyr Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine was a Roman Priest and physician who eventually became the patron saint of lovers and beekeepers!
Folk traditions allowed the holiday to evolve into a significant cultural, religious, and, eventually, commercial celebration of romance and love around the globe. Even though in 2023, Valentine’s Day is synonymous with mass-produced hallmark cards, teddy bears wielding love hearts and boxes of chocolates, its history is soaked in the romanticism of the far less commodified kind.
Much like New Year’s Eve, for couples and singles, there is the expectation of celebrating the occasion. If you want things to do on Valentine’s Day in London, we have curated a list for everyone flying solo, coupled up, or wanting to spend the day celebrating their platonic relationships and friendships.
10 Things to Do on Valentine’s Day in London
Watch Gatsby with Love at The London Cabaret Club
For fans of the Great Gatsby or the Art-Deco era, the London Cabaret Club in Holborn hosts a sultry evening, which includes an intimate meal soundtracked by love songs and enlivened by live performances. The show starts at 6 PM and goes on late into the early hours.
Grab your tickets early, as this is expected to be a sell-out event. Tickets start from £77.25; for Valentine’s looking for the VIP experience to spoil their dates, the VIP tickets that will reserve the best seats in the house cost £267.80.
Stay in with an M&S Meal for Two
The Valentine’s Day Marks & Spencer Dine-In Meals have become engrained in UK Valentine’s Day culture in recent years. They are the perfect option for anyone who wants to stay in and snuggle up on a budget in style. For £20, a delicious three-course meal, complemented by wine and a box of chocolates, is available in selected stores from February 9th – 14th.
For starters, options include a luxury prawn cocktail or oak-fired melting Camembert. For the main course, Salmon en croute or 21-day matured rump steaks are some of the mouth-watering options. The dessert menu is ultra-romantic with the addition of love heart macarons or love heart churros. Vegan, Vegetarian, Alcohol-Free and Gluten-Free options are also available.
Karma Sanctum Soho for a Meal and a Movie
Valentine’s Day plans do not need to break the mould; the classic options are classic for a reason, but Karma Sanctum Soho is preparing to host an evening that will elevate the standard humdrum of a dinner and a movie. The set menu, specially prepared for one night only, includes oysters and salmon tartare.
After you have sampled the delectably romantic plates, head to the Cinema Bar tucked away in the boutique hotel and restaurant to feast on pink popcorn and indulge in some cupid-inspired cocktails. If you will be sad to leave the stylishly cosy setting, splash out on a junior suite and sleep on Egyptian Cotton sheets for £450.
Don a Jumpsuit in the Alcatraz-Themed Cocktail Bar
For the more adventurous couples looking to do something a little out of the ordinary, London’s locally famous prison-themed cocktail bar in Hackney is preparing to host an unforgettable evening. There is no need to worry about what you will wear on the most romantic night of the year; your civilian clothes will be swapped for jumpsuits while you are hosted by the prison guards, who also happen to be expert cocktail mixologists!
The tickets range from £35.99 – £39.99 and include all juices, syrups, and mixers, although, as this is a prison, you will have to smuggle your own spirits! The Hollywood-inspired prison can only contain up to 180 inmates to prevent overcrowding, so booking in advance is highly recommended.
Play Plonk Golf in Camden Market
If expensive restaurants and bars aren’t your idea of a good time and you are looking to spend your Valentine’s Day or evening in a more energetic way, the indoor Plonk Golf Course in Camden is a great way to while away the hours with your friends, other over half, or whoever you choose to spend the amorous day with.
The golf course, which takes you far away from the urban streets of London with its tropical décor, spans six units, giving you ample opportunity to perfect your swing before you sink your final golf ball. Depending on the time of day, ticket prices range from £5.50 – £13 for each person.
Look for Love During a Round of Speed Dating
Many say Valentine’s Day is for single people, not those already coupled up. Prove them right by heading to one of the many speed dating events being hosted in London. Big Chill on Brick Lane is hosting a speed dating evening for its trendy East London inhabitants. If you are looking for a round of elite speed dating, Austin Friars has graduate professionals earning over £60k covered. For the LGBTQ+ Londoners looking for love, your options certainly aren’t limited either!
To make speed dating a little more fun and infinitely less daunting, team up with your friends before heading to an event; even if all your micro-dates are a flop, you will at least have plenty of fun swapping notes afterwards!
Watch the Sun Set at London’s Highest Public Garden
Sky Garden is renowned for its unparalleled views of the cityscape across London. On February 14th, love is guaranteed to be in the air for ticketholders, who are invited to tuck into a sharing board and pop a bottle of champagne while gazing out across the panoramic views. The entertainment for the evening will be provided by DJs, who will be spinning seductively retro commercial pop tunes.
As the Sky Garden is naturally-ventilated, bringing warm clothes is recommended. Prices vary from £22.00 – £150, depending on the time of booking. To make the best impression on your date, time your visit so the sunsets as you get into the swing of things to see the contrast between the metropolitan city between day and night.
Sit Back to the Sounds of a Jazz Trio
Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love; there are no rules to say that love can’t be a love of music! Eastcheap Records is hosting a special one-off event for smooth jazz fans who want to kick back to the sound of a smoky ambient jazz ensemble. The £29 entry ticket will leave you in earshot of Quinn Oulton’s Pocket Change Trio. While sampling the complex chords and sensual grooves jazz is renowned for; you will also get to tuck into two artisan pizzas and two speciality cocktails.
The bar is just a short stroll away from Monument tube station, in a building that has been a part of foodie history since 1883. Feel free to while away the hours after the band has finished and the DJ is spinning some classic jazz tunes, set listed to get you in the mood.
Have a Self-Care Spa Day at the Luxurious K Spa
If you don’t have anyone to spoil on Valentine’s Day, that is all the more reason to celebrate some self-love by booking a spa day for one. A solo Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to head over to the luxurious K Spa in Shepherd’s Bush, where you will find plenty more than just a pool, sauna and jacuzzi. A day pass to the spa costs £65; once you have purchased the day pass, you can check out the ultra-innovative Snow Paradise room for a chilly circulation boost in an igloo.
Head to the Sun Meadow to top up your vitamin D levels to warm up afterwards. The Sun Meadow comes with all the benefits of a sunbed without exposure to harmful UV rays! Once you feel thoroughly pampered, kick back with a cocktail or a glass of champagne in the studio bar – you never know who you might meet!
Celebrate Galentine’s Day By Booking Bottomless Brunch
If you do not want to be surrounded by loved-up couples while celebrating Galentine’s day, the Boy Toy Bottomless Brunch at Embankment is the ultimate escape from the romantic fray. The value-for-money tickets range from £15 – £44 and will provide four hours of non-stop entertainment from male dancers, circus performers, and acrobats!
The iconic drag hostess, Honey the Foxx, is also on-hand for entertainment while you are sampling a staple brunch dish of your choice and working your way through a jug of Havana rum punch! The party is not over when the show is; you will have plenty of time to mingle with mimosas in hand before you head out for the evening.