5 ways to celebrate Valentine's Day (with the kids around)

Celebrate the day of love (while keeping the kids busy) with these 5 tips

Image: Farsai Chaikulngamdee on Unsplash
Didn't get a babysitter in time to watch the kids this Thursday? Don't let that stop you from celebrating Valentine's Day! While your options are a bit more limited, it's not impossible to celebrate even with young kids around. For those of you with an ayi and opened this post looking for a restaurant, this comprehensive list of dining deals or some V-day ideas might suit you better. But for those intending to celebrate with the kids in tow, here are a couple of suggestions:

Dine out (where there's a play area for young kids)

Tribe (Solana)

Tribe's Solana branch has a little area to keep the kids entertained while the adults can sip on wine, indulge in organic beef tenderloin and Yunnan roasted chicken or vegan pumpkin pasta, a salad and raw chocolate 'cheesecake' for 520RMB (original price is 728RMB). All Tribe restaurants have their own Valentine's special, but only the Solana branch has a play area to keep your child entertained hopefully longer than you finish a glass of wine. Click here for more information.  

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6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu (Chaoyang, --select--)

The Rug (Chaoyang Park)

For every 399RMB, The Rug Cafe's Chaoyang Park branch is giving guests a blueberry vanilla red velvet cake. Parents can enjoy that while the kids are playing on their own... if they don't stay to devour the cake, anyway. Click here for more information. 

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Chaoyang Park Nanlu (Chaoyang, --select--)

Watch a movie while the kids are asleep

Get the kids to snooze early this Thursday (it's a school day, after all!) and make sure the wine and the steak is on standby once the coast is clear. Not sure what to watch? Pick from this list of top 20 best romantic movies ever, which includes lovable classics like Woody Allen's Manhattan,Gone with the Wind and even Wall-E

1. Brief Encounter (1945)

1. Brief Encounter (1945)

Director: David Lean
Cast: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard

You’d think that Lean’s tale of stiff-upper-lip emotion would be frightfully and unwatchably old-fashioned today. A married woman falls in love with a married man and they do the decent thing. And…? Unlike Casablanca, the future of civilisation isn’t hanging on the outcome. Just the happiness of two families. And not to mince words, they’re an unglamorous pair. 

She’s Laura (Johnson), a not especially pretty housewife. He’s Alec (Howard), an earnest doctor. So why do we continue to find Lean’s much-loved classic so unbearably moving? Because it’s still thrilling to watch the continents of emotion beneath Laura and Alec’s icy properness. Celia Johnson is like a silent movie star with her huge eyes, showing so much emotion with barely a rustle of an eyelash.

Adapted from a Noël Coward play, Brief Encounter is a brilliantly crafted film, beginning with a goodbye in a railway café – the end of an affair that never really was. From there, Lean flashes back to the lovers’ first meeting in the same café. Laura has grit in her eye. Alec gallantly removes it. Later, they run into each other in a restaurant. They have luncheon (this is the 1930s), take a trip to the cinema, drive in the countryside. He borrows a flat for the afternoon for them to meet in, but embarrassment takes over and they don’t make love.

It’s all so very innocent. We listen to her innermost thoughts – as she narrates a kind of an imaginary confession to her sweet but dull husband: ‘I’m an ordinary woman. I didn’t think such violent things could happen to ordinary people.’ Laura and Alec know in their heart of hearts that leaving their families and running off together will not make a happy ending. And so they must part. He accepts a job in South Africa. Our hearts stop with the lovers’ when a busybody crashes their last few precious minutes together. Unforgettable.

2. Casablanca (1942)

2. Casablanca (1942)

Director: Michael Curtiz sdfsdfsdf

sdfsfd Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into his. Humphrey Bogart’s choice between the woman he loves and doing the honourable thing is one of the most wrenching you’ll ever see on screen. Seventy years on, it gets the heart racing every time.

Bogey is Rick, a hard-drinking American in Casablanca, a city full of refugees fleeing the Nazis. Most of them wash up in Rick’s bar, including his great lost love Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). With her is a Czech Resistance leader who’s escaped a concentration camp.

Casablanca is full of famous lines, but our favourite is Rick’s description of himself heartbroken and abandoned on a train platform – ‘a guy standing in the rain with a comical look on his face, because his insides are kicked out.’

3. In the Mood for Love (2000)

3. In the Mood for Love (2000)

Director: Wong Kar-Wai

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung

No one understands the ache of love like Wong Kar-Wai, and In the Mood for Love is his masterpiece. In 1960s Hong Kong, two of the most glamorous leads ever to grace the screen – Leung and Cheung – move next door to each other. His wife is cheating on him with her husband, and out of this betrayal a friendship develops. Should they have an affair of their own?

Leung, impossibly handsome, is a study in reserved pain. Cheung is unutterably elegant. Honestly, they make the Mad Men cast look like scruffy students. At the heart of this muggy, sensual story is the feeling that love is a matter of timing – that a moment missed can never be recaptured. And Leung whispering his secret into the ruins of a wall is an exquisite image of pain and yearning. 

20 best romantic movies

Take a stroll

Take a longer lunch break than usual to enjoy your weekday Valentine's with your loved ones strolling through some of Beijing's scenic routes. Kids not at school can tag along and hopefully wear themselves out so get to bed early and leave more of the evening to yourselves. 

Meander through Beihai Park

Meander through Beihai Park

It's beautiful, it's not too busy, and there's plenty of activities to woo your boo with nearby. Take a walk around Beihai along the lake and its droopy willows. Start from the northeast side and head towards the southern exit to move away from popular to sparser spots, until you end up with striking views by the lake to your left.

Go ice skating at the Summer Palace

Go ice skating at the Summer Palace

Show your partner how supportive you are by literally supporting them on the ice at one of Beijing's magnificent outdoor ice rinks. There are plenty to choose from, but the frozen lake at the Summer Palace feels particularly romantic, and is a scenic getaway from the busyness of central Beijing.

More suggestions here


Delay your Valentine's celebration for a day or two and say I love you with one of these staycation packages. Here are some that have programs for kids (while parents spend some quality time on their own).

Four Seasons Hotel Beijing

Critics' pick

Cozy up at the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing with a staycation where kids stay busy with a variety of activities lined up, from baking cookies to yoga classes and even special art classes. The staff at Four Seasons will keep the kids entertained while parents get to enjoy themselves at the other available amenities. Call 5695 8888 for more information. 

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48 Liangmaqiao Lu (Liangmaqiao, --select--)Online booking

Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing

Stay lakeside with Sunrise Kempinski and leave your kids (3-9 years old) at its Kids Club. Parents get to enjoy themselves while the children play and learn fun games with trained attendants and new friends. The Kids Club is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am-6.30pm and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. 200RMB per hour. Call 6961 8888 or email reservations.yanqilake@kempinski.com for more information. 

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Yanqi Lake Nan Lu (Mentougou)

Video call and sticker attacks

Is distance keeping you and your Valentine apart? Then show your beau that business trips can't stop you from celebrating Valentine's with some DIY Wechat stickers before and after your virtual Valentine date. 

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