‘Sweet dreams are made of this…’ Everyone likes to feel loved, cared for, and well-entertained on Valentine’s day… What could be a great way to do that in Toronto in 2019?
Let’s face it, the perfect thing to do in Toronto will always depend on the weather. There’s lots of great shows and museums to explore if it’s too cold outside. There’s also lots of romantic winter wonderland spots to enjoy if the weather is relatively mild.
Read on for our overview of the cultural scene and romantic spots in the GTA:
Romantic shows and performances
Watch the iconic love story Casablanca (1942) with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra playing the movie’s Academy-nominated soundtrack. Remember its most romantic songs, “As Time Goes By,” “It Had to Be You,” and other songs you’ve known forever? Shows take place on February 15th and 16th in Roy Thompson Hall.
Jazz Bistro is again hosting Toronto’s well-known jazz vocalists, John Alcorn and Alex Samaras, on February 14th. An evening of soulful vocal jazz with dinner service.
Fun and laughs
On February 14th, Second City presents its shot at love in Hooking Up with the Second City: Third Base. Two shows run at 7 pm and 9:30 pm. On Feb 15th, Second City’s impressive ladies will follow up with She The People, and on Feb 15th and 16th they will continue making you laugh with The Second City’s Mainstage 82nd Revue.
In Mozart’s take on making fun of love, musical opera comedy Cosi Fan Tutte will tell the story of two men testing the loyalty of their lovers. The show is presented to you by Canadian Opera Company at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts on February 15th. Bonus – if you’re under 30 years old, you will qualify for COC’s Opera Under 30 and get your tickets for $22!
GRAMMY-award vocalist, world-known Canadian soprano and conductor, Barbara Hannigan is touring the world with her performance of Debussy, Sibelius, Haydn, Berg and Gerschwin. She will hold only two performances in Toronto, conducting the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and singing, on February 13th and 14th in Roy Thompson Hall.
Hart House Theater presents its Winter Concert on February 14th. If you don’t know it, Hart House Theater selects UofT’s best musicians for its orchestra and offers free concerts. This V-day concert is a performance of Mahler – Symphony No. 7.
Other interesting shows
Well-known singer and multiple GRAMMY award winner Sting is the author and the star of an autobiographical musical about a deep-rooted community coming to grips with societal change. The musical titled The Last Ship has Sting’s original music and lyrics (including some of his famous songs, such as Island of Souls and All This Time) and tells the story of a community fighting to stay together amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Tyne and Wear. The show is presented by Princess of Wales Theater every day between February 14th and 16th (and beyond).
For a spectacle of acrobatics, theater, dance and live music, check out award-winning contemporary circus performance of Cirque Eloize’s Hotel. The shows are performed at the Bluma Appel Treatre on Feb 14th, 15th and Feb 16th (two shows on Saturday). Desjardins members get 20% off the ticket price.
Royal Ontario Museum has an exposition of striking wildlife photographs, an exhibit about a particular armored dinosaur species called Ankylosaur – as well as a general dinosaur exposition, Chinese New Year prints exposition and an Asian art exposition.
Art Gallery of Ontario has two expositions dedicated to minority perspectives: a critical exposition Femmes Noires exploring questions of race and gender, and an Afrocentric spirituality exposition. You’ll also find here two historic expositions dedicated to the world wars: a poignant Kathe Kollwitz exposition about women in wartime Germany, and an exhibition dedicated to centenary of the end of the First World War.
An oft-forgotten museum, the Design Exchange has, aside from its permanent collection dedicated to industrial design, two interactive exhibitions: #WeThink2030 is focused on visions of sustainable development in the future, while City of Experiences is a virtual / digital / physical exploration of technology and lifestyle.
Bata Shoe Museum, aside from its permanent collection, has an exposition of golden shoes, arctic footwear, and shoe designs from 1930s.
Not just a place to get a new shiny jersey, Hockey Hall of Fame is always a fun place, and it shouldn’t be too busy around the V-day.
Consider visiting the Ontario Science Centre to check out the newest Imax Theatre shows (space, oceans and rainforests) or pop into the Planetarium.
Another museum that’s probably not on your radar, Toronto Reference Library is a building of unique architecture and boasts even more unique special collections. It will present an exhibit on hip-hop scene, DJs and sound systems starting on February 16th.
Aga Khan Museum has launched a unique Artist-in-Residence collaboration with Kevork Mourad, who is internationally acclaimed for his painting, printmaking and animation portraying difficult subjects in the recent history of his native Syria.
If you both are big fans of the Maple Leafs, you might want to celebrate the V-day by flying to Vegas to catch them on Feb 14th and staying around Vegas for the weekend.
If you love UFC, tune in on February 17th for Ngannou vs Velasquez.
Romantic walks in Toronto
If your idea of a romantic time is taking a stroll in the beautiful outdoors or exploring romantic architecture, there are lots of options that are perfect for winter days. And feel free to keep this list in mind during the rest of the year, too.
If the weather is too cold and being outside is not your idea of a romantic day or evening:
– If you like architecture, Osgoode Hall is a great (free) hidden historic spot in downtown Toronto. Get inside and explore their stunning library and reasonably-priced, Tripadvisor-rated restaurant. Once you’re in the area, there are lots of other great spots to check out, and the PATH to take you almost all the way to them: Ripley’s Aquarium, AGO, Hockey Hall of Fame, St Lawrence Market and Kensington Market, not to mention lots of acclaimed foodie restaurants and simpler sit-down spots.
– Head towards Casa Loma and Spadina Museum. When you get cold, nip into Casa Loma for a tour, a coffee, an escape game, or a dinner in its steakhouse. Casa Loma is open daily until 5 pm. Spadina House is open on weekends only and is a historic mansion that preserves the lifestyles of late 19th and early 20th centuries. If you do decide to go for a walk outside, take Davenport to Wychwood Park or enjoy the beautiful view of the city as you take the stairs down towards Yorkville.
If the weather is not too cold and you can spend 30 minutes or so, intermittently, outdoors:
– Drive up to Main Street Unionville to enjoy the quaint architecture and a slow stroll around Toogood Pond. When you get cold, there’s plenty of upscale shopping and dining options to keep you occupied.
– Consider going to Vaughan and exploring McMichael’s Art Gallery and the town of Kleinburg. The Art Gallery houses a great collection of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, as well as beautiful grounds and a sculpture garden. And once you’re there, you can also put on your skis or snowshoes and embark on the Humber Trail.
– Ashbridges Bay is an incredibly romantic spot for winter strolls, which is also close to the foodie and shopping scene of the Beaches. The gorgeous picture courtesy of Frank Lemire aka Syncros.
If the weather is mild and a longer stroll, skating, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing is in the cards:
– Soak in the calm in the High Park. Watch people and wildlife and children at the High Park Zoo. When you get tired, pop into the Grenadier restaurant that’s open every day until 7 pm, or head back to Bloor West Village for a dizzying variety of international dining options.
– Enjoy the Old Mill and the Humber river parks. Old Mill Inn is a great spot for spa, brunch or dinner, while Humber river offers Torontonians some of its finest parks. Take the Old Mill Bridge towards Etienne Brule park and continue along the recreational trails, or head South towards King’s Mill Park.
If a gift is in order… consider the gift of a loving experience together. One or more of the following might strike your fancy:
- Buy a chocolate fondue fountain and prepare some strawberries, marshmallows, bananas, cream puffs or banana bread.
- Talk to your wedding cake baker about getting a little special confection to commemorate the date.
- Go to a special place that you haven’t visited recently. Maybe a favorite neighborhood that you moved away from, the restaurant where you had a memorable date, or a great museum.
- V-day is always a great occasion to buy jewelry. Why not take this opportunity to select her bridal jewelry together?
- Buy some music to add to your collection of relaxing, romantic tunes conducive for leaving your troubles behind and spending cozy evenings together.
- If it’s your thing, schedule an artfully erotic photo session for both of you.
- Take a Brass Vixens workshop to learn the secrets of private dancing or do a sexy photoshoot with them.
- Take a day off and enjoy the city without the crowds… or just stay in all day.
- Plan a massage for two, or another relaxing and rejuvenating experience to give you both a break from all the wedding planning and busy life.
- Or even better, plan a short trip to the sunshine.
- If you prefer to downplay the romance on the V-day, consider picking up a Purdy’s Meh Valentine Survival Kit to enjoy together.