Winter doesn’t look like the ideal season for romance. It’s too chilly and dark for picnics or country walks… and let’s not even think about sub-zero skinny dipping.
But the winter months are full of ways to turn up the romantic heat, especially around Christmas. Here are our favourite ideas for love in a cold climate.
1. Go ice-skating
Outdoor ice skating is glamorous, graceful, seductive… unless you’re a mere mortal, in which case it’s cold, clumsy and likely to end in a bruised bum. But you and your date will cling to each other and laugh your lungs dry as you try getting round in one piece.
Find an outdoor ice-rink: www.thisistheatre.com/iceskating.html
2. Hunt for ghosts
Ghost-hunting tours are springing up all over the place. What better excuse to wrap yourself in your other half’s arms?
Among our favourites are Mercat Tours, who specialise in spook-searches around Edinburgh’s candlelit dungeons and underground vaults (www.mercattours.com).
Find a ghost hunt: www.ghosttoursuk.co.uk
3. Enter a pub quiz
Pub quizzes are brilliant fun with a group of friends, but they’re also perfect for a date. You and your companion can have a laugh, get to know each other and test each other’s brain power. Bonus points for grabbing a table near the roaring fire.
Find a pub quiz: www.pubsquiz.co.uk/pubs/listing.asp
4. Stay late at the museum
Many museums and galleries hold special adults-only late nights, allowing you to browse in peace after work. Many late openings, such as those at the Tate galleries (www.tate.org.uk), include music, food and drink.
Find a late-night museum: www.24hourmuseum.org.uk
5. Raise a beer glass
German beer festivals are fast becoming as much a part of the British winter as in-store Santas. Clink your giant glasses and, if you’re brave, dance on the wooden tables.
Find a winter beer festival: www.beerintheevening.com/beer/festivals.shtml
6. Get a room
Dirty weekends are why winter was invented. Book a room in a seaside hotel and lock yourselves in until check-out time. If you get cabin fever, stroll along the deserted beach and feast on roasted chestnuts.
Find a hotel room: www.laterooms.com
7. Have a spa treat
A rub-down is guaranteed to get the blood flowing through your limbs. Many spas offer couples massage sessions and his n’ hers spa days.
Find a couples spa session: www.goodspaguide.co.uk
8. Sample the wine
A wine-tasting session allows you to stay indoors, have a drink (or 10) and learn something. Giggles guaranteed.
Find a wine workshop: www.wineunearthed.co.uk or www.vinopolis.co.uk
9. Have a DVD marathon
Winter weather is an excellent excuse to kick off your shoes and snuggle into the sofa for a popcorn binge and a movie marathon. Don’t blame us if your wandering hands make you miss all the good bits.
Find a DVD rental site: www.uk-dvd-rental-guide.com
10. Have a laugh
There are plenty of cheap comedy clubs and free open-mic nights bursting with talent. Great value, especially when you can pay more than £30 to see a big-name comic in the West End.
Alternatively, get free tickets for a TV show. Harry Hill’s TV Burp and 8 out of 10 Cats are currently filming in front of live studio audiences.
Find a comedy club or TV recording: www.chortle.co.uk
11. Shop ’til you drop
Winter adds a romantic sparkle to window shopping. Wrap up warm, snuggle close and take advantage of the shops’ extended Christmas hours.
Find late-opening shops: www.shoplocally.co.uk
12. Browse the stalls
Christmas markets offer another excuse to wrap up in your woollies and your man whilst splashing the cash. Fill up on mulled wine and home-made mince pies.
Find a festive market: www.christmasmarkets.com/UK.html
13. Have your drinks on ice
Judging by the popularity of ice bars, whose indoor temperatures would make a penguin shiver, you really can have fun at five degrees below zero.
For example London’s Absolut Ice Bar is so cold that you have to wear a duvet-like thermal cape, and you’re only allowed in for a maximum 40 minutes. The walls, bar, tables and vodka glasses are all made out of ice.
Find an ice bar: www.beerintheevening.com
14. Head for the tropics
Get out of the cold and into an indoor winter garden, where the temperature is perfect for exotic plants and romantic dates.
Find a winter garden: www.personal.u-net.com/~treetops/ukguide.html
15. Relax with a coffee
Happiness is vegging on a coffee shop sofa with your partner, a supersize latte and the papers. Easy like Sunday morning after a late Saturday night.
Find a cool coffee shop: www.cosycoffeeshops.co.uk
16. Enjoy a movie matinee
Avoid the evening crowds and enjoy a movie matinee. Max out the romance by choosing an independent cinema that serves coffee and cake.
Find an independent cinema: www.britinfo.net/cinema
17. Cook dinner
Show off your culinary skills, break out the vino and turn the lights down low. It’s the perfect date idea if you’re feeling the pinch – and you don’t even have to venture outdoors.
Find a foolproof recipe: www.deliaonline.com
18. Singalonga Christmas
Carol singing is karaoke with tinsel. Make sure that your lover has heard you caterwaul at least once before – you don’t want to drive them away just before you get your pressies.
Find a carol service in your area: www.direct.gov.uk
19. Go salsa dancing
Most salsa classes are a mix of beginners and enthusiasts, so don’t feel shy about your lack of footloose finesse. Salsa is sexy, great for your body, and a real laugh. The more you laugh, the more you’ll fancy each other…
Find a salsa night: www.uksalsa.com
20. Place a cheeky bet
A night at the dog races is loads of fun and very inexpensive – many greyhound stadiums even offer half-price beer. It’s also a dying sport, so catch it while you can.
Find a greyhound stadium: www.dogracing.co.uk