Winter is the most romantic time of the year, when all you want to do is snuggle up to your partner – whether that’s on the sofa with a good movie or with mulled wine on the ice rink.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first date or 500th, these winter date night ideas are all fun ways to spend quality time together. Because you’ve either got Christmas on the horizon or just gone, we’ve also found you the best cheap and even free winter date ideas. (You’re welcome.)
Let’s be honest, life is not like the rom-coms. There’s no carriage rides in the snow in this list; instead there’s pub quizzes, hot tubs, independent cinemas, gingerbread houses, board games and all those other things that make winter the best time of the year.
On a first date? Any of these are great – and take a sprig of mistletoe with you too if you want to guarantee a kiss.
The Best Winter Date Ideas
1. Take a Cooking Class
Cooking classes are great for a date as they involve you working together and you get something delicious to eat at the end. We highly recommend the Waitrose Cookery School and Jamie Oliver’s Cookery School if you’re in London which are suitable for novices to amateur chefs. In winter, their courses cover lots of warming, vibrant cuisines to keep the dark nights at bay, like Mexican street food, Thai feasts, and Bombay cafe favourites. Google is the place to go to find cookery schools closer to you.
2. Go Ice Skating
A Christmas classic straight out the movies. If you can’t skate, you can hold each other up at the side of the rink and laugh as you slip and slide your way round followed by a much-deserved hot choccie. If you can skate, you’ll feel like the rink’s resident Torville and Dean as everyone looks on with jealousy and awe. The perfect way to spend an hour.
3. Visit a Christmas Lights Display
Lots of stately homes and gardens across the country have started hosting Christmas light displays: a magical walk through their grounds with Insta-worthy spots aplenty. Grab a mulled wine and have a stroll around, followed straight after by a visit to the pub to warm up.
4. Go Indoor Rock Climbing
Outdoor activities are pretty much off limits once the cold and dark has set in, so find an indoor activity to challenge you both and learn a new skill. Rock climbing is fab for this – just Google an indoor wall near you. Did you know adrenaline helps couples bond too?
5. Take a Brewery Tour
Most brewery tours start at around £12-£15 each with tastings and a pint included, especially incredible seasonal flavours – you can’t ask for better value than that. If beer isn’t your thing, gin distillery tours or a guided wine tasting evening are brilliant too. Prepared to splash the cash? Try a ‘brew your own’ session. At UBrew in London, you spend the day brewing your own beer from scratch and collect your own case three weeks’ later when it’s ready to drink.
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6. Try Hot Yoga
Freezing outside? Warm yourself up with a hot yoga session. You can do hot – or Bikram – yoga at any level of fitness and it involves doing a series of poses in a room heated to between 35 and 42 degrees. There’s loads of physical benefits to the heat and you could discover a new hobby you love doing together.
7. Pick a Random Groupon Date
On the Groupon website, you’ll find a section called ‘Things to Do’ with tons of offers in your local area. Make a pact that you must do one of the first 10 activities that shows up, whether that’s indoor skydiving or trampolining to axe-throwing and a murder mystery night. They’re all excellent value and guaranteed spontaneous fun.
8. Head to a Book Shop
Warm, indoors, romantic, tick, tick, tick. Set each other little challenges like finding the silliest or funniest titled book you can or an author with the same name as you. End by buying each other one of your favourite books as a present; it’s a hugely enlightening way to get to know someone.
9. Explore a Christmas Market
Under the twinkling lights of a giant Christmas tree, you’ll find delicious food, drinks, crafts, carol singers and more at a Christmas Market. There’s some famous ones around the country which are well worth the visit, like the German market in Birmingham and Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas market. This website lists all the Christmas markets in the UK and there’s definitely going to be one near you where you can top up your dose of good cheer.
10. Go on a Weekend Getaway
Road trip to a cute country Airbnb where you can go on long walks, snuggle up in front of a fire and plan your retirement in the sweet little villages all around the area. A winter sun break might be appealing, but we promise the UK in the winter months is where the romance is really at.
11. Go Charity Shopping
Vintage, second-hand or charity shops are goldmines for ugly Christmas jumpers. See who can put together the most garish outfit for each other. Loser has to buy at least one of the articles of clothing and wear it for the rest of the day (hey, at least you’re supporting charity even if you look awful).
12. Warm Up in a Museum
Most big cities have a free museum or two that you can visit, and almost all with have special winter activities going on. Stately home and even garden centres are fab for activities too: normally you can sign up for cheap classes like wreath making and card printing, attend a storytelling session or theatre performance, or stop by a Santa’s grotto (not just for little ones!).
If you can combine a museum date with a day in London, the Natural History Museum has a beautiful ice rink, and it even does night time sleepovers for adults with live music, stand-up comedy, a pub quiz, insect tasting and more.
13. Laugh at a Comedy Club
No better way to get your date laughing than at a comedy club. It’s such a great winter first date idea, but is also great if you’ve been together 10+ years too. You can go to a comedy store in your city, but some of the best, under-the-radar comedians can be found at comedy nights at your local pub. Even if they end up dying on stage, you’re guaranteed a laugh for less than £10.
14. Seek out a Hot Tub
Most spas will have a hot tub – you can check out the 50 best spas in the UK here – or combine it with a weekend away and hire a cottage that comes with a hot tub. There’s nothing more special than sinking into a hot, bubbling tub with a glass of wine to escape the chilly air around you.
15. Be a Tourist in Your Own City
We mean off-the-beaten-track touristy things. The best place to find something really unusual to do is by searching the Atlas Obscura: it lists all the strange, cool and hidden things to do in your region. Secret gardens, awesome arcades, tiny museums and art galleries in an unmarked house; they’re all waiting for you if you just go looking.
16. Head to Winter Wonderland
If you live in London, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is a must-do (preferably at the time when the crowds aren’t too big). From karaoke bars and ice sculpting workshops to fairground rides, Cirque Berserk, a comedy club and more, you can spend a whole day exploring.
17. Do a Winter Wonderland Photoshoot
Nope, not a photoshoot in Hyde Park. If you’re looking for some cute couple photos, hire a photographer to spend a couple of hours shooting some seriously magical portraits of you. A snowball fight, decorating your tree, with your pet or out in nature are all great photo shoot ideas. No money? Use a self-timer.
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18. Catch a Match
Rugby and football seasons in the UK take place over autumn and winter. Sports fans can find local games on near them or pester a pal with a season ticket to let you take your beau on a date to a big name match.
Cheap and Free Winter Date Ideas
19. Sledding, Snowmen and Snow Angels
If there’s a nice layer of snow on the ground, make full use of it for a totally free date idea! Snowball fights and making a snowman and snow angels are totally cute and romantic, while a plastic sledge is under less than £12.50 and you can have so much fun on the hills near your house. Warm yourself up with a hot chocolate after (we won’t tell if you add a little rum).
20. ‘Create a Cocktail’ Party
You know all those half drunk bottles of spirit and liqueurs getting dusty in the back of your cupboard? Maybe they’ve been left over from a party or used once in a recipe? Get your friends round for a double date and task yourself with creating a festive cocktail out of all the forgotten booze.
21. See a Movie
Heading to the cinema is always the best thing to do when it’s pouring with rain outside. It’s a simple but great date idea. If you want to make it more special than your local multiplex, find a cool independent cinema near you.
In London, we love the movie marathons at The Prince Charles Cinema and the winter night garden at the Backyard Cinema. Cornerhouse in Manchester, Watershed in Bristol, The Broadway in Nottingham, Hebden Bridge Picturehouse, and The Filmhouse in Edinburgh all get the thumbs up too. Loads of pop-up cinemas arrive during the winter months too, like these free London Zoo film screenings.
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22. Pub Quiz Time
Get a group date going at a pub quiz. A little healthy competition is essential for any relationship, so hit it off with some intellect-testing trivia and good conversation. Always helps if you win the bar tab at the end too. If you’ve got a joint interest – Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, pop music, Dingbats – you’ll find lots of niche pub quizzes in your area too.
23. Play a Board Game
Either dust off one of those old games gathering dust in a drawer or head to a board game cafe for a cheap few hours of fun. Here’s some of our favourites that are perfect for two players: Bananagrams, Pandemic, Carcassonne, Exploding Kittens, Codenames Duet and Forbidden Island.
24. Take a Hike
Go on a walk outside. On a crisp autumn day, you’ll see orange and red leaves float down around you, while in winter, you might catch a sprinkling of snow.
25. Play Christmas Light Bingo
Get that scarf on and head out into your neighbourhood. Write yourself a bingo grid of Christmas light displays – Rudolph, Santa falling off a roof, house with enough fairylights to be visible from space, nativity scene, sled – and shout bingo whenever you’ve seen a whole row. Last one to get a full house buys the drinks. It’ll give you lots of ideas of how to then decorate your own house/flat/terrace – which is your task for the next day.
Animal shelters and homeless charities need even more help in the winter months when the weather turns cold. Choose a cause that means something to you both and get volunteering – you’ll find out even more about each other’s values. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, spend some quality time walking a cute pooch: find one on Borrow My Doggy or take out a friend’s.
27. Have Breakfast for Dinner
Pancakes, waffles, French toast: breakfast really is the best meal of the day. Cook yourself up a breakfast treat for dinner or head to a restaurant like The Breakfast Club for an all-day dining treat.
A dark, clear night is the perfect time to get outside and spot some constellations. An app like StarView Lite is a free planetarium in your pocket; all you need to do is point it at the sky and it’ll identify the stars, satellites and more above your head. You can also buy stargazing experiences where your own astronomer will set up telescopes and guide you through a tour of the solar system.
At-Home Winter Date Ideas
29. Build a Fort
Pillow forts aren’t just for kids. Take the cushions off the sofa, build yourself a magnificent hideout and top the whole thing with a blanket. Bring in some torches, snacks, a pack of cards and some spiked hot chocolate. Change it up and sleep there for a night – you might find you have even more fun than in your bedroom.
30. Throw a Gingerbread House Making Competition
Each person gets a gingerbread house kit; either go for a ready-made set or (Mary Berry, eat your heart out) make and bake your own using this cookie cutter set. You each get the same items to decorate with – icing, sweets, strawberry laces, Smarties etc – and 15 minutes to create your masterpiece. At the end, it’s reveal time! Do this as a double date and each couple can pick a winner from the other team.
We also love this ready-made gingerbread campervan and this DIY 3D christmas tree gingerbread kit for something different to decorate.
31. Movie Night and Mulled Wine
Mull yourself some wine (follow this easy recipe here), wrap yourself up in blankets and snuggle up in front of a movie. So simple, but seriously romantic. If you want go the whole hog, buy a projector and set it up against a white wall or screen and surround yourself with all the blankets and cushions you can find. It brings a whole new meaning to Netflix and chill.
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32. Go Wild With a Chocolate Fondue
Chocolate fondue kits are pretty cheap – this one is only £9.99 – and we promise you’ll be using it time and time again. It’s powered by a tea light so get your choccie melting and set yourself up a midnight feast (absolutely OK to eat at 5pm too). Strawberries, frozen grapes, marshmallows, brownie bites, mini meringues, banana, honeycomb: sometimes you can create a dessert way better than a restaurant at home.
33. Living Room Picnic
Too cold to go outside? Indoor picnics are the way to go. Throw a warm rug on the floor, put a classic Christmas movie on the TV (The Holiday and Home Alone are our winners), open a bottle of wine and order in some take away. It’s cheap, fun and romantic.
34. Spend a Night by Candlelight
Try a whole date night pretending the power’s gone out and using only candlelight. Firstly, everyone’s skin looks fantastic in candlelight. Secondly, you’ll only be able to eat things cooked with a candle, i.e. toasting marshmallows and melting a fondue. Thirdly, you won’t be distracted by your phones or the TV – instead play a board game or spend quality time talking to each other and planning your future.
35. DIY a Spa Day
If you’ve got a sheet mask, a bath bomb and some massage oil at home, this is a completely free date idea. Even if you’ve got to pop to Superdrug it’s a cheap one. An at-home spa experience is all about pampering and relaxing. Take a bath together or trade massages for a romantic night in. Try this aromatherapy massage oil with the sensual scents of ylang ylang and patchouli for only £6.99 from Amazon.
36. Make a Hot Chocolate Station
Make some hot chocolate and then scour your cupboards – or go to the shops – for all those delicious toppings: a can of squirty cream, some crushed up biscuits, chocolate chips, Minstrels, marshmallows, caramel sauce, candy canes. Go wild. The one who can squeeze on the most toppings wins.
37. Read to Each Other
It might sound cheesy, but reading to each other has been scientifically proven as a way to foster intimacy and connect with your partner. Find a great winter book (check out Waterstones’ book of the month) and take it in turns to read a chapter to each other in front of the fire. Much more enjoyable than an audio book.
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