Hearts and Minds: Valentine’s Day Alternatives in NYC

By Alison Durkee

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and no matter what your romantic situation, New York City has plenty of ways to celebrate—or not. Make some February 14 plans, learn about love, commiserate with others, or avoid the holiday entirely with these upcoming talks and events.

New Yorkers looking for Valentine’s Day plans can head to the Museum of the City of New York, which will be keeping its doors open late February 14 for special evening hours. A romance-centric tour will focus on New York’s historical tales of love and come complete with a special champagne toast. Museumgoers in a romantic mood can also spend their Valentine’s Day afternoon at the Fraunces Tavern Museum, whose Love in the Time of Revolution tour will tell tales of 18th century courtship and the Founding Fathers’ love stories. The Tenement Museum will offer a special February 14th tour centered on the love stories of its former residents, as well as a Valentine’s Day reception. Those wanting a more scientific take on the holiday, meanwhile, can head to a special workshop on how genetic testing and DNA can help judge compatibility and romance.

The city’s museums will also be celebrating love in all its forms beyond February 14. The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden is offering special romance tours exploring courtship in the 19th century on weekends throughout February. The New York Public Library will celebrate the LGBTQ community’s struggle for civil rights—and the ability to legally love whomever they choose—with their new exhibition “Love and Resistance”, which explores the fight for LGBTQ civil rights in the wake of the Stonewall riots. Check out the exhibition at a special after hours event February 15, which will include curator talks, trivia, games, a DJ, and a drag queen story hour.

Lovers and single folk alike can also enjoy tales of love with upcoming romance-centric readings and performances. Take a literary look at love through the words of classical author Nagarjuna at an event February 8, or get a more modern take as author John Kenney launches his new book Love Poems for Married People on February 13. Some of our current best-known depictions of love—romantic comedies—will get a second look February 13, as comedians read scenes from romantic films and share how those scenes affected their own love lives. Those who have been burned by love, meanwhile, can commiserate with others at Greenlight Bookstore’s Long Story Short: Love Follies February 13, an evening of telling stories about failed attempts at love, or simply celebrate Galentine’s Day instead at a night of all-female humor piece readings February 10.

Looking for advice on romance and relationships as Valentine’s Day nears? Head to Subject on February 12 to explore monogamy—and whether it’s necessary—with New York University professor Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, who will provide social science-based answers to attendees’ most pressing questions about love. After the warmth of Valentine’s Day wears off, spend your February 16th learning about the art and science of the breakup and how to protect your relationships at an event with psychologist Marisa Cohen.

Those who want to forget about love and Valentine’s Day entirely, though, are also in luck this February. Spend February 14 eschewing romance for feminism by checking out a celebration of all things Riot Grrrl; a conversation with feminist icons Faith Wilding and Mira Schor; or a discussion on how socialism can improve women’s lives, from economic independence to having better sex. New Yorkers can also enjoy the city’s arts scene February 14, including a preview screening of Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke’s Ash Is Purest White at Lincoln Center and the Rachel Thorne Germond Performance Collage, an evening of multimedia works incorporating video projection, performance, and photography. Once Valentine’s Day comes to an end, learn why friendship is better than romance anyway and how to be a true friend at a February 15 discussion with philosopher Jeanne Proust.

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