While nobody needs a manufactured holiday to tell them how to love, Valentine's Day has morphed into a 'choose your own adventure' affair with an abundance of offbeat events including live gigs, dance parties, art workshops, literary gatherings and so much more. For those in favour of cerebral pleasures over cheesy romantic gestures, a cultural date might be your best bet, and will certainly score a few brownie points for originality. We've rounded up the best cultural activities on offer in Sydney, New York and London - all in the name of love. Grab your paramour or your bestie, kick up your heels and cue the joie de vivre.
MoMA PS1, Brooklyn, New York
The ever-popular MoMA PS1 Sunday Sessions is presenting a bumper Valentine's Day edition, VALIUM VALENTINE; a collaboration between acclaimed songwriter/producer and Miike Snow lead singer Andrew Wyatt and German artist Sarah Ortmeyer. This hypnotic six hour performance includes original compositions created specifically for the event, emotive improvisational pieces and to top it off a stellar list of special guests including Lykke Li, Empress Of and Charli XCX. And just to make sure all senses are catered for, Sarah Ortmeir will transform the Dome into an exquisite planetarium of egg shaped stars - making for a moving performance that is equal parts melancholy and delight.
Sunday 14 February 2016, 12pm. For more information visit momaps1.org
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
In an Australian first, Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art is taking part in the global #HeartsForArt campaign. First adopted by the Brooklyn Museum, New York, this playful initiative invites visitors to share their art crush, by placing a paper heart beneath the artwork which tugs on their heartstrings the most. By sharing their experience with the hashtag #HeartsForArt, visitors can join a global conversation of art lovers and go in the draw to win a slew of art themed prizes. With the lewd and outrageously colourful work of Grayson Perry and a new wall installation by Mikala Dwyer on show, choosing where to spread the love is the hardest part. For those wanting to linger longer, pop into the MCA Gin Garden for lovingly crafted cocktails or visit the MCA Cafe for a champagne and sweeping views of the harbour.
Sunday 14 February 2016, 10am-5pm. For more information visit the MCA Facebook event
New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
For all the bibliophiles out there, Bookforum magazine presents the annual literary ode to St. Valentine in the New Museum's Sky Room; a reading of various texts on love and desire by notable authors, journalists and academics. This year's event, dubbed Trial and Error will include readings by Mary Gaitskill, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Marx, A. O. Scott, and Christopher Sorrentino. Make the
most of your visit by arriving an hour or two early to check out current exhibits by Anri Sala, Pia Camil and Cheryl Donegan, as well as the Chris Burden's hauntingly beautiful 'Ghost Ship', which once sailed off the coast of Scotland and now clings to the side of the museum.
Friday 12 February, 6pm. For more information visit the event page
National Art School, Sydney
Taking inspiration from some of the best warehouse parties and intimate outdoor gigs around the world, Astral People and the National Art School present SUMMER DANCE - a series of music lovers Sunday sessions in the historic grounds of the old Darlinghurst gaol, which is now home to Australia's most prestigious fine art School. The special Valentine's Day edition features UK Powerhouse Nightmares On Wax, Belgium's Lefto and local talent Mike Who. With the dancefloor set between rustic sandstone buildings, lush green grass and age-old trees, Summer Dance is the ultimate setting to kick back with your beloved people.
Sunday 14 February, 3-9pm. For more information visit summer-dance.com.au
National Gallery, London
The National Gallery is inviting Londoners to fall head over heels with its stunning collection of paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries with Valentine's Late. The Gallery space will be brought to life with an impressive range of free activities, including a tasting of historical aphrodisiacs with food historian Natasha Marks, renaissance dance classes, a fascinator making workshop, drop in drawing classes and a free #PaintedLovers tour to uncover the mysterious stories of love and lust in the National Gallery collection. Plus live Jazz and Boogaloo performances, making for a night reminiscent of old world romance in the historic centre of London.
Friday 12 February, 6pm. For more information visit nationalgallery.org.uk