Love is in the air Go beyond Hallmark moments to celebrate Valentine’s Day with flair

Ah, Valentine’s Day. A holiday full of expectations and manufactured romance.

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Ah, Valentine’s Day. A holiday full of expectations and manufactured romance.

If cards, flowers and chocolates are starting to feel passé, keep reading for five ways to celebrate the season of love a little differently this year.

Pose for a portrait

Embracing in a field. Holding hands in a forest. Smooching at sunset. In the age of Instagram, couples’ photoshoots are a dime a dozen. For a limited time, Riley Grae is offering a novel way to capture love.

The Corydon Avenue gift shop has transformed its fitting room into a bright green portrait booth. Until next Feb. 10, customers can grab a loved one, friend or family member and sit for an original 20-centimetre by 20-centimetre hand-drawn portrait created by an on-staff artist, who will be sketching from behind the handmade cardboard partition.

Reservations are required for the 35-minute portrait sessions and can be made online at Time slots are available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during opening hours — the shop is closed on Sundays. Two people are allowed in the booth at a time and portraits cost $30 each.

Looking for an eccentric Valentine gift? The retail and coffee shop at 701 Corydon Ave. has a wide assortment, including heart-shaped beer koozies, cinnamon-scented candles, romantic puzzles and oddball greeting cards.


Sup with a pal

February is a time to celebrate all kinds of love: courtships, friendships, kinships and even mentorships.

On Friday, Feb. 10, Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA) is hosting a Palentine’s Dinner fundraiser at The Tallest Poppy (103 Sherbrook St.). Proceeds from ticket sales will support MAWA’s Foundation Mentorship Program, which has been pairing gender-marginalized emerging and established artists for year-long professional development collaborations since 1985.

Individual tickets for the three-course dinner are $60 (plus fees) from Eventbrite or $75 with an optional wine pairing from Ellement Wine + Spirits. Diners can select a chicken, vegetarian or gluten-free menu.

Doors open at 7 p.m. with dinner served at 8 p.m. A takeout option is available. The evening will also include a skills auction featuring work from local artists.

In addition to Palentine’s Dinner, MAWA is running a Valentine Pick-Me-Up event from Feb. 8 to 10. Send an email to to sign up and head down to the organization’s office, 611 Main St., to pick up a free gift. Visit for more information.


Think inside the box

Don’t feel like joining droves of other lovebirds vying for a reservation on the 14th? Avoid the rush and get a box of locally curated date-night supplies delivered to your doorstep.

Date Night Delivered is a pandemic-era business created by Winnipegger Megan Parsons. Her themed boxes ship locally and across Canada and include local products, recipes, a custom playlist, party decorations and games for two.

The company is currently offering a special Valentine’s Day box with four adult (read: saucy) games for $30. The cutoff for local orders is next Thursday at noon, with boxes delivered the following day.

Other themes include a tropical staycation, complete with tiki glasses and face masks; a cosy winter escape with tuques and hot chocolate bombs; a restorative daytime retreat with yoga, coffee and a breakfast skillet recipe; and a beer-tasting night with a custom flight board, glasses and a drinking game (alcohol not included). Regular boxes start at $60.

Visit to place an order.


Spread the love

Spend an evening crafting love notes for strangers on Thursday, Feb. 9 during the Project Valentine card-making event at Barn Hammer Brewing, 595 Wall St.

Project Valentine is a grassroots effort to make February a little brighter for folks served by community organizations in Winnipeg. Since founding in 2013, the initiative has distributed more than 1,500 handmade cards to local groups. The craft night runs from 7 to 9 p.m.; supplies will be provided.

On Sunday, Feb. 12, Barn Hammer is collaborating on a Valentine’s brunch with chef Dustin Peltier of Loaf & Honey. Tickets are $60 for a three-course menu featuring chorizo tacos, eggs Benedict with trout gravlax and mini doughnuts. The food is paired with two beers and guests will receive a “Valentiney” beer cocktail upon arrival. Seatings are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Head over to to secure tickets.


Spend some quality time outside

Inflation getting in the way of a good time? Winnipeg is a veritable wonderland of free and low-cost winter activities suitable for the most romantic day of the year.

Lace up the skates and hit the ice. The Nestaweya River Trail is in great condition this year and there are public skating ponds at Assiniboine, Kildonan and St. Vital parks. Wolseley residents have again come together to create a communal trail on the Assiniboine River with interconnected rinks, ski trails, toboggan runs and art installations.

Hit the trails. If cross-country skiing is more your speed, there are groomed trails at many of the aforementioned locations, as well as at city-run golf courses, FortWhyte Alive and Beaudry and Birds Hill provincial parks. Windsor Park Nordic Centre also offers night skiing with lit trails until 10 p.m. daily. Visit for a full list of trails in and around Winnipeg.

Get your heart pumping with adrenaline rush. There are sled-worthy hills at Civic Park, Victoria Jason Park, Harbourview Recreation Centre and Westview Park, as well as toboggan slides at several city greenspaces.

And if you don’t have the requisite equipment for any of the above, there’s nothing more heartwarming than walking hand-in-mitted-hand with your beloved. Pick a trail and, respectfully, take a hike.

Twitter: @evawasney

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Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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