As February approaches it’s time to think of how you are going to woo your significant other again this year. Whether it is through chocolates, roses, or a fancy dinner it is time to show your love and devotion. So, what are the best romantic ideas for valentine’s day in Northern Ireland? Read on for romantic inspiration and a bit of history on the celebration of love.
Or if you’re single you can just enjoy the history lesson and prepare to buy cheap chocolates when they go on sale on the 15th of February.
Why do we celebrate St Valentine’s Day?
The holiday of Valentine’s Day has come a long way from the saint himself. Saint Valentine was a Roman Christian who lived and was martyred in the 3rd century. The day that we celebrate as St Valentine’s Day is the day that he was martyred. The feast of Saint Valentine has been celebrated since the eighth century taking the place of another Christian festival. However, it was not always about love, flowers, and definitely not chocolates. (The first box of chocolates wasn’t invented until the 18th century).
That is because Saint Valentine is not only the saint of love and devotion but also the saint of epilepsy, an Italian town (Terni), and beekeeping! So, if romance isn’t your thing you can always enjoy some honey from a local beekeeper or eat some Italian food.
Saint Valentine wasn’t associated with love and romance until the 14th century when writers such as Chaucer wrote books about the lives of saints. The time of year was considered to be romantic already at this time as birds were believed to pair up during the middle of February.
The kind of love most associated with Saint Valentine at this time was ‘courtly love’. This form of love was common in fiction and was based largely on chivalry. Courtly love is also where the term ‘courting’ comes from. If you want to court your significant other this year you can try out some oaths of fielty and heroic deeds just as Chaucer would want.
We have come a long way from the days of chivalric love and feasting on saints days. We are much more likely to spend some quality time with our loved ones and maybe exchange gifts. It’s probably a lot more fun now chocolates are readily available.
Where Do Valentines Cards Come From?
It is believed that St Valentine fell in love with the daughter of the jailer who had imprisoned him. While he was locked up he sent her a note and signed it ‘from your Valentine’.
That is where the tradition of signing notes from your Valentine on Valentine’s day comes from.
So, in the modern day, how can we celebrate Valentine’s day in Northern Ireland? Read on to find out!
For more Belfast recommendations check out our article on Valentine’s Day in Belfast.
What are some of the best ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Northern Ireland?
- Spa days
- Bars & Restaurants
- Days Out
- Last Minute Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day in Northern Ireland – Spa Days
One of the most luxurious ways to celebrate Valentine’s day is to enjoy a spa experience with your significant other. This is also a great way to spend Galentine’s day for those who are single! Here are a few spas in Northern Ireland you can check out this Valentine’s day:
Zen Day Spa
This is an excellent option for those living near Newry. They offer packages for a couples massage or for a gift voucher for the future. Whether you want to enjoy your spa experience on the week of Valentine’s day or want to plan it for the coming months, it is a great gift idea for your other half. Plus you get to enjoy the spa too. Win-win!
Location: 5-9 River St, Newry BT34 2DQ
Located in the four-star hotel and resort in Ballymena this spa is available for hotel residents as well as for day spa experiences. One interesting feature of the Galgorm resort is its thermal spa. The thermal spa at Galgorm is based in the wooded areas around the spa giving a perfect place for a relaxed escape.
Location: 136 Fenaghy Rd, Ballymena BT42 1EA
Lough Erne Resort
Overlooking the calm waters of Lough Erne is just one benefit of this 5-star resort experience. You can choose from a variety of treatments including aroma therapy and light therapy. They even offer a Thai Spa Boutique and have an infinity pool where you can enjoy a nice dip.
You can book a treatment of your choice or buy a voucher to choose the perfect date or experience package for you.
Location: 193 Lough Shore Rd, Ross Inner, Enniskillen BT93 7ED
Slieve Donard Resort & Spa
The Slieve Donard Hotel is a stunning luxury hotel offering beautiful views of the sea as well as the Mourne Mountains. The spa within the hotel has been, as of 2020, voted the best spa in the UK. This is an ideal option for those who love to be by the sea and are looking for a completely relaxed atmosphere throughout the resort and spa.
Location: Downs Rd, Newcastle BT33 0AH
Valentine’s Day in Northern Ireland – Bars & Restaurants
One of the most traditional ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day is to head out to a nice restaurant for dinner. We have a great guide to the best Belfast spots for Valentine’s Day dinner so you can check that out for suggestions here.
There are also restaurants which offer heat and eat-at-home options. These are a great choice to impress your significant other with a beautiful three-course meal with half the effort.
One of these heat-at-home options is served up by Stock Kitchen Belfast. This restaurant is based at St George’s Market and uses the amazing produce from the market to make amazing food. You should do some research to find more heat-at-home options near you such as the meal kit from Dished up Deli or an Italian delight from Picolo Parma.
Learn more about Stock Kitchen Belfast in the video below:
Valentine’s Day in Northern Ireland – Days Out
Take a Walk at Finnebrogue
What better place to spend some quality time together than in nature? Finnebrogue Woods is a stunning area of natural beauty, a stunning date spot, and a popular wedding venue.
Finnebrogue also provides experiences such as foraging and cooking wild food, a cafe where you can enjoy a sweet treat after your walk, and glamping pods for a romantic getaway.
Check out their website for more information on their activities, services, and woodland, linked here.
Location: 26 Killyleagh Rd, Downpatrick BT30 9BL
Cheer on the Giants at Valentine’s Game Night
Whether it’s your first time watching a game of hockey or you have been a season ticket holder for years, this is a great choice of a night out. The Belfast Giants are an amazing hockey team (Who are doing very well this season, 2023) and they will provide entertainment that is a little bit different for this valentines day.
Enjoy some great live sports played by our very own Belfast Giants all dolled up in pink for the occasion. The Valentine’s shirts are also available to be won in a raffle at the game for a fun keepsake.
You can also grab food and drinks at the stadium (consider downloading the stadium app to jump the long queues at breaks). Any Giants game is a great night out so if you want something that’s not a formal dinner, you should try it out for your Valentine’s celebrations.
Watch Romeo and Juliet at the Lyric Theatre
Each year in February to mark Valentine’s day the Lyric Theatre in Belfast put on a romantic play to suit the season. This year they are putting on a respin of the classic star-crossed lovers’ play; Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. This modern interpretation sees the heads of two of the most influential fashion houses in competition with each other. Little do they know their children have fallen deeply in love, and we know how the story goes.
This romantic tragedy is perfect for your Valentine’s day theatre experience and you can pre-book a sharing plate with drinks to enjoy with the show. Hopefully, your Valentine’s night will have a happier ending than the play.
Read more about the performance and where you can book tickets here.
Test Your Palette at a Beer Tasting Session
Not a fan of wine but want to try improving your palette and enjoy a range of delicious drinks this Valentine’s? Why not book a beer tasting and brewery tour or a gin/whiskey tasting and a distillery tour? Northern Ireland has so many great gins, whiskeys, and craft beers that are made right here with distilleries and breweries up and down the country.
For whiskey and gin, you can find an amazing tour and experience at the Old Bushmills Distillery on the Antrim Coast or Hinch Distillery in Ballynahinch. For craft beer, you can check out Whitewater Brewery in Castlewellan or Walled City Brewery in Derry.
Read more about Northern Ireland Distilleries here.
Learn Something at the Ulster Museum
If you are looking for something to keep your budget low but still spend great quality time together this Valentine’s this is a great option. The Ulster Museum is a great space filled with different exhibits for you to explore. You can walk around the museum talking and enjoying learning about something new. After spending a while enjoying the exhibits you can head outside the museum and enjoy the beautiful Botanic Gardens. This is also a great place for a picnic.
Have trouble making the most out of your trip to the museum and want some tips to make it more fun? Check out our guide on how to visit museums.
Last Minute Valentine’s Day in Northern Ireland
Running out of time to plan something? Here are a few last-minute ideas to make a special Valentine’s day for you and your loved one:
Build a blanket fort and watch movies
Time to pull out all the pillows and blankets from your home and use them all to make a place to relax. You will then have the perfect nest where you can watch movies and enjoy some snacks. Valentine’s is a great excuse to watch rom-coms but you can watch whatever movies you like in the blanket fort.
Depending on how many snacks you end up buying this can be a cheap and cosy option for a romantic valentine’s day.
Put together a charcuterie of all your favourite snacks
Whether it is meats, wine, and cheese or chocolate, crisps, and sweets a snacking tray is a great thing to share with your significant other on Valentine’s day. Maybe even create a board showcasing all their favourite foods or snacks.
Show you care and enjoy some delicious snacks, win-win!
Write each other a love letter or make each other a playlist
We don’t always have the time to tell our partners how we feel and what better time? Put on some music and take some time to write from the heart.
Shakespeare once said that music was the food of love so if letters aren’t your thing you can show your affection with a specialised mixtape.
Take an online class
If it is too late to book an event in person you can look up online courses in a range of activities. Why not learn how to dance, learn how to make your favourite cocktail, or learn how to create a beautiful cake? There are loads of tutorials and paid classes online you can enjoy together.
Cook dinner together
A great date idea in general is to spend some time making some great food. It’s a good time to test out your communication and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour afterwards. A great option for date night cooking is to make pizza together. You can choose whatever toppings you like and for extra whimsy, you can shape the base into the shape of a heart.
Try flower arranging
This idea is even better in the days after Valentine’s day when flowers are on sale. Simply buy a few different bunches then try to create your own bouquet. You can even compete to make the best bouquet.
Bring the spa into your home
If you don’t want to spend lots on a spa trip or you forgot to book a treatment in time for the big day why not bring the spa to you? Grab some face masks, cucumber slices, a glass of prosecco, and a nice robe and treat yourself and your partner to a luxurious spa experience at home. You don’t even have to leave the house!