Valentine's Day events in Edinburgh & Glasgow

We dig out the best alternative Valentine's Day events and ideas in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Feature by The Skinny | 12 Feb 2018
  • Valentine's Day


Your first port of call for date night is probably dinner, and if you’re organised you will have booked a table for two at some romantic, candlelit restaurant months ago. For those of you looking for a less boke-worthy alternative though, The Real Junk Food Project are hosting an Anti-Valentine's Dinner at Leith's Ostara Cafe. Operating a ‘Pay As You Feel’ policy for a three-course meal made entirely from ingredients that would otherwise have been thrown away, and also allowing you to BYOB, you can prove to your other half that love really don’t cost a thing.

Afterwards, you can complete the classic dinner and movie combo with a trip to the cinema. If you’re a traditionalist, however, it’s Slim Pickens this Valentine’s Night. Classic romances are thin on the ground, but then it has been a less than romantic year in Hollywood, so it’s understandable. You can’t go wrong with Casablanca at Filmhouse though, where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman smoulder while saying the most quoted dialogue in the history of the movies.

If you’re putting your Valentine’s Night on hold for the weekend, you can take in a very stiff upper lip romance of Brief Encounter at the Usher Hall, where Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard making eyes at each other on the big screen over a train station buffet with the swelling strings of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra urging them to get it on.

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a Cold War-era fairy tale in which a mute cleaner falls in love with the fish-man held captive at the government facility in which she works, is released on Valentine’s Day. On opening night, Cameo have wisely paired it with another fishy tale, The Creature from the Black Lagoon – a monster movie from which del Toro took much inspiration.

If you fancy taking in a gig post-dinner instead, garage pop quartet Spring King will stop by Sneaky Pete's on one of the closing dates of their nationwide tour, during which they promised to visit some of their favourite small, sweaty and chaotic UK venues.

Another option for your Valentine's Day dates is a trip to the theatre, and the Traverse have got a great show for all you young lovers, running free. In Showtime from the Frontline, the show's writer Mark Thomas and his team set out to run a comedy club for two nights in the Palestinian city of Jenin. But it's not so simple to celebrate freedom of speech in a place with so little freedom.


Over in Glasgow, you can hit up the city’s new epicentre of cool Finnieston, starting at Rioja. The tapas joint is offering a set sharing menu, including bread and olives, a glass of cava, two amuse-bouche, three tapas, dessert and a wrapped rose per table, all for just £25.95; or what some may call a bargain.

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s a day late, on 15 February, Sailor Jerry’s are throwing a pop-up event just down the road. Jerry’s Open House-Warming will have live sets from Honeyblood and Spinning Coin, as well as Ally McCrae DJing. There will also be giveaways, exclusive T-shirts and your £5 ticket will include two complimentary drinks.

If it’s a more unconventional relationship movie you’re after this Valentine’s Day, you’re more than covered. Burnt Church film club are screening Silence of the Lambs at Flying Duck, and reframing the horror-thriller as a love story following a plucky FBI agent and her kooky relationship with a psychopathic cannibal. It’s a perverse reading of Jonathan Demme’s film, but not an unsupported one.

If it’s an anti-Valentine's Day movie you’re after, there’s Loveless at Glasgow Film Theatre, the fifth film from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev. It’s a pitiless study of a marriage in terrible decline, and things only get worse when their 12-year-old son goes missing. Also at Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Only mildly less depressing than Loveless is Fifty Shades Freed, the third and thankfully final installment in the 50 Shades of Gray franchise, the limp adaptations of EL James' best-selling BDSM novels. Forget the S-part, only masochists would put themselves through this dross. On general release

For the music fans, Broadcast will host New York garage rockers Public Access T.V., with support from weegie locals Pleasure Heads and Das Plastixx. In their short career so far, the band have already supported such greats as Weezer, The Killers, The Strokes and Green Day – if those aren’t opinions to trust, we don’t know how else to convince you.

Whether you're flying solo or coupled up, Glasgow queer cabaret troupe Black Doves bring you a special Valentine's Day themed edition of Queer Theory that will send sparks flying. Queer Theory: The L Word will be hosted by performance artist Katy Dye, aka Katy Cupid, who will introduce acts from the worlds of music, comedy, poetry, drag and variety – just watch out for the arrows.


February also marks LGBT History Month, which acts as a good time to remember that not all couples have found it as easy to express their love on Valentine’s Day as others. Queer Champions is a landmark collaborative exhibition, taking the form of a series of black and white portraits of prominent LGBTQ people in Scotland, including celebrities, artists, activists, campaigners, community workers, and unsung heroes. The touring exhibition opens at University of the West of Scotland on Valentine's Day.