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8 alternative date night ideas to try out around Ireland this weekend 

After dark art galleries, comedy and rom-coms that won’t make you cringe.

PLANNING A DATE that pleases both parties can be tricky, whether it’s a first meeting or a Valentine’s night out with your other half.

Opting for your local pub might feel like a failsafe option, but there are countless date night ideas that don’t revolve around alcohol.

If you’re in the early days of your relationship, taking alcohol out of the equation means you’ll be able to get to know each other with nothing else clouding your judgement – and you can be sure of not waking up with a hangover the next day.

From honing your cooking skills to tapping into your city’s late night art gallery scene, we’ve picked some date night options around Ireland that offer something a little bit different.

The romance, however, is up to you…

1. Take a food tour of your city

Rather than staring at one another across a candlelit table, make your date more mobile with a local food tour. Fab Food Trails runs a three hour Tasting Trail around Cork city which includes a tour of the English Market, while in Dublin there’s a selection of one-off Chinese food tours planned as part of the upcoming Chinese New Year Festival. If you’ve always wanted to know which of Parnell St’s eateries serve the best spicy green beans, this is your chance.

2. Or cook up a storm

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While it’s a bit pricey for a first date, a cooking class is a solid option for a night out (or day out) with your other half. In Dublin, try your hand at tortillas and tomatillo salsa with Picado’s evening Mexican cooking classes, or take a Thai cooking class at Saba including a trip to a nearby Asian market. In Galway, Aniar runs weekend classes on everything from bread baking to cooking perfect fish.

3. Get talking (or at least, watch someone else do it)

Sitting down to watch a talk by or an interview with someone genuinely interesting is a great way to ease into a date with someone new. There’s plenty in the calendar for this spring, including authors Dolly Alderton and Matt Haig at Dublin’s National Concert Hall. Environmental campaigner George Monbiot and author of We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver, will both be speaking at Belfast Festival Of Ideas & Politics in March.

4. Have an art date after dark

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Turn off Netflix and get some real life culture in with a trip to a gallery opening or a late night exhibition. On Thursdays, Dublin’s National Gallery stays open until 8.30pm, and Cork’s Crawford Gallery doesn’t shut its doors until 8pm either. The best part? They’re free!

5. Plan a cinema date with a difference

If a weepy new release full of A-listers is a bit too Hollywood for your next date night, why not check out an older classic or a European drama instead? Pálás Cinema has a world cinema season kicking off on February 17 with Galway Film Society, and the IFI is showing Red Dust on February 12, a steamy romance from 1932 starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

6. Laugh, cry and cringe at someone else’s stories

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Fancy letting someone else break the ice for you on a first date? Head to a storytelling evening or a comedy night to watch other people get awkward on your behalf. Dublin Story Slam is an open mic-style evening at Dublin’s Sugar Club with stories set around a different theme each time. In Galway, the Roisin Dubh regularly features comedy acts, from stand up to live bingo.

7. Get to know one another while you get moving

Adding some activity to your date night is as simple as heading out for a scenic walk, but if that doesn’t feel like enough of an occasion, why not rent a pair of bikes and view your city on two wheels? Use a Dublin Bike with your Leap Card in the capital, or buy a three-day pass for the similar schemes in Cork, Limerick and Galway. If you’d rather stay inside, an evening bowling session for two at your local LeisurePlex will only set you back €8 per person midweek.

8. Turn a cup of tea into something special

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Yes, you can build a date night around a cup of tea or coffee. Dublin’s Tea Garden is open until midnight, with cosy couches for relaxing with a hot brew. For a more formal date, there’s try the Traditional Chinese Tea Masterclass (€50) taking place on Sunday February 10, during Dublin’s Chinese New Year Festival.

Are you ready to rethink your drinking and find out what you could gain? Cutting back on alcohol can improve your health and make you feel better, physically and mentally. Find out more about the benefits of drinking less, plus tips to help you stay on track, at  

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