Dinner at a fancy restaurant? So unimaginative. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, incurable romantics Matthew Hull and Kate Feld share their top ideas for things to do on a first date in Manchester.
1. Amélie at Cornerhouse
So it might be a cliché that French movies are romantic, but this one sure is. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be smitten by Audrey Tautou’s heart-meltingly adorable Amélie, or won over by the quirky charms of this modern classic, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. You can take part in a discussion led by Isabelle Vanderschelden, Senior Lecturer Senior Lecturer in French at Manchester Metropolitan University, following the 15 February screening. Afterwards, treat your date to a crème brûlée and a glass of Prosecco for just £6.50 in the Cornerhouse Café Bar (show your Amelie ticket when ordering). How sweet. Amélie, screening Sunday 12 February, 12:00 and Wednesday 15 February, 13:30, Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, M1 5NH. £5.50.
2. Rainy City Roller Girls
You know those dates where you both sit gazing forlornly at your starter, trying desperately to think of something interesting to say? This won’t be one of those dates. Who could fail to bond watching the women of the city’s oldest roller derby squad take on the Central City Roller Girls? Roller Derby – a no-holds-barred game performed on skates, for the uninitiated – has found a new audience in recent years (thanks in part to Drew Barrymore’s film Whip It), and Manchester’s no stranger to the trend. Expect thrills, spills and plenty to talk about, starting with the squad’s game names, which include Nancy Ray-Gun and Whoops C. Daizee. Rainy City Roller Girls v. Central City Roller Girls, Saturday 11 Feburary, 5-8pm (first whistle 6pm), The Thunderdome, 1 King Street, Oldham OL8 1EU. £7, booking suggested.
3. Frog & Bucket
A good joke always breaks the ice, so why not let a professional do all the work for you? Set on the edge of the Northern Quarter, the Frog and Bucket was the site of some of Peter Kay’s first shows and has also played host to great alternative comics including Tim Key, Stewart Lee and Flight of the Conchords. Monday’s popular ‘Beat the Frog’ night offers a chance to see up-and-coming acts for free, but be sure to come early. You don’t want to end up sitting at the front and having to spend your first date being picked on because of your droopy ears. Frog and Bucket, 96-102 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LJ
4. Lyme Park
Just a short drive from Manchester, this Elizabethan stately home is probably best recognised as Pemberley from the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; home to the lake where Colin Firth re-enacted the first wet t-shirt competition of the Regency era. The lush grounds and walled gardens are ideal for getting-to-know-you walks, while a trek up to the hillside hunting tower rewards you with spectacular views of the estate. The house itself is equally impressive with a historic library, huge stone fireplaces and almost six hundred years’ worth of accumulated aristocratic knickknacks. There are some interactive exhibitions, too, including a box of period hats to try on – just make sure you don’t elbow any children out of the way to get to them. Lyme Park, Disley, Stockport, SK12 2NR
5. Ho’s Bakery
If you feel that flashing your cash is unseemly, or you just don’t have any to flash, then a trip to Ho’s could be the perfect low-key but memorable date. This authentic Chinese bakery stocks an array of delicious sweet and savoury pastries that launch a three-pronged assault on the nose, the tastebuds and the waistline. Pick out some miniature hot dog rolls and honey buns and wash them down with a bubble tea – choose the number of straws at your own discretion. Take your treats to the outdoor seating that overlooks the spectacular Chinatown arch. You’ll have taken your date to the other side of the world without breaking a tenner. Ho’s Bakery, 46 Faulkner Street, Manchester, M1 4FH
Image: Susie Stubbs.