Palentine’s Day is like Valentine’s Day, but for friends. Celebrated the same day as Galentine’s Day – 13 February – Palentine’s Day is an antidote to all the syrupy sentimentality of Valentine’s Day, thanks to its focus on celebrating the love between friends rather than romantic love.
We’re not entirely sure who first came up with the idea of Palentine’s Day, whether it came before or in response to the concept of Galentine’s Day (the annual day of “ladies celebrating ladies”, first coined by Amy Poehler’s character in comedy series Parks and Recreation). We’re not even sure about the exact definition, as some see it as a celebration specifically for male friendships, while others see it as friends celebrating friendship regardless of sex or gender. What we are certain of, though, is that while it might just seem like another made-up concept designed to make you spend money, and commercialise what is essentially just spending time with your mates, we can’t help but love it! It’s an excuse to round up people you love spending time with and do something fun together, and that’s always something we can get on board with.
There are many ways to celebrate Palentine’s Day, some of which can be organised on the day, and some of which take a little more planning. Whether you’re looking to stay in and eat pizza in your PJs with your housemates, book an activity for you and your old school friends, or eat and/or (always and) drink with your bestie, we’ve got some excellent suggestions for you. And the best part is, Palentine’s Day is inclusive, so even if you plan to meet the girls for brunch in honour of Galentine’s, and cook a romantic meal for your partner on Valentine’s Day, you can still organise a Palentine’s get-together for you and your friends.
Best places to eat on Palentine’s Day
For some reason Palentine’s Day seems to be synonymous with junk food rather than fine dining, so that’s what we’ve suggested for you below. By all means catch up with your mates at Aqua Shard if that’s your bag, but here are our picks for dining on Palentine’s Day.
Why: So friendly and welcoming is the atmosphere at this Theatreland stalwart that you could genuinely rock up alone on Palentine’s Day and leave with a group of new friends. Add to that the menu, which is brimming with American comfort food, and the tinkling of the piano in the dining room, and you’ve got yourself the ideal set-up for a celebration of friendship.
Where: Joe Allen, 2 Burleigh Street, Covent Garden
Why: There’s nothing quite like a catch-up with friends over a hearty plate of fresh pasta and a Prosecco slushy, which is why wallet-friendly Pastaio is one of our picks for Palentine’s. You might be put off by the idea of doughy-eyed couples sharing spaghetti like Lady and the Tramp, but fear not – this joint is buzzy and the pasta is too good to share.
Where: Pastaio, Soho
Barrafina Dean Street
Why: Barrafina might stray into date territory, but we reckon this Michelin-starred tapas joint can be reclaimed for Palentine’s. We recommend you and your mates arrive early, grab some stools at the marble-topped bar and get stuck into the top-quality sharing plates. Wash it down with a glass of Tempranillo and a hearty catch-up with the people you like best.
Where: Barrafina Dean Street, Soho
The Blues Kitchen
Why: It’s hard to feel blue at Camden’s spirited soul shack, where food from America’s deep south, nightly live music and a bumper crop of bourbon combine to make a lively New Orleans-style night out. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, there’s plenty of delicious food and drink on the menu, and unlikely to be too many smooching couples – win, win, win!
Where: Camden, Shoreditch + Brixton
Yard Sale Pizza
Why: Giant pizzas with eccentric toppings? Sounds like our bag! If it sounds like yours too, get yourself to one of Yard Sale Pizza’s five locations this Palentine’s Day for a sharing pizza with your best pals. Alternatively, order one to take away and hunker down with your mates in your living room – it’s the food and company that counts.
Where: Finsbury Park, Hackney, Leytonstone, Clapton and Walthamstow.
Best places to drink on Palentine’s Day
We get that different groups like varying vibes, so we’ve tried to include a mix of bars and pubs to suit all tastes. From cosy corners to full on parties, we’ve got you covered. Most serve snacks too in case you’re not eating beforehand.
Why: The only thing more fun than cocktails with your pals, is cocktails drunk from tiki mugs, with your pals. Live music, dancing and a line-up of rum punches, grogs and slings with names like ‘Bikini Blast’ all come together to ensure your Palentine’s Day will be tons more fun than any Valentine’s Day equivalent.
Where: Mahiki Mayfair
Queen of Hoxton
Why: If you’re looking for a distraction from all the lovey-dovey stuff going on around Valentine’s Day, this bar/club/art collective is a safe bet. Every Thursday, Queen of Hoxton transforms into a three-floor house party, complete with games, giveaways and booty-bouncing bangers from classic Hip-hop to House. And the best part? It’s free entry!
Where: The Queen of Hoxton
Why: BYOC Camden is the perfect antidote to lovesickness, world weariness, and any other –ness that makes you feel as though life is picking on you. The concept is simple: round up some mates (preferably without their significant others if it’s lovesickness you’re ailing with), buy a bottle of your favourite booze and allow the mixologists at this unique bar to mix you up some bespoke cocktails.
Where: BYOC Camden
The Jerusalem Tavern
Why: Quiet, cosy and off the beaten track, this boozer in Farringdon is an ideal spot for a catch-up with an old friend or two. With just six beers on tap at any one time, it won’t win any prizes for variety or pizazz, but if you’re after a fresh pint of honey porter, IPA or English lager to go with a plate of pub grub, it’s just the ticket.
Where: The Jerusalem Tavern, Farringdon
The Half Moon Putney
Why: Great drinks, decent food and live music all come as standard at this upmarket boozer in Putney. The pub’s bijou stage has hosted everyone from The Stones and The Who to Kate Bush and U2, so there’s a chance you’ll witness a star in the making as you sip your pint. If you don’t fancy losing yourself in music, there’s plenty of drinking and dining space in the bar.
Where: The Half Moon Putney
Best Palentine’s Day activities
Palentine’s Day is all about having fun with your friends, and we can think of no better way to do that than by getting stuck into an activity (before or after food though, naturally). Here are our top picks.
Karaoke at Lucky Voice
Why: Granted, most songs are about love so if you’re looking to avoid the subject altogether you might struggle. That said, it can be quite cathartic to belt out a power ballad with your mates after a few glasses of bubbly. Whatever your motives, it’s been scientifically proven that singing produces endorphins so book a booth, gather your mates and sing your heart out.
Where: Soho, Holborn + Islington
Bowling at All Star Lanes
Why: Lobbing a heavy ball repeatedly down an alley can do wonders for letting off steam and also provides plenty of quality-time for catching up with mates. Book a lane, order some beers, bowl some balls and have a laugh – it’s what Palentine’s Day is all about.
Where: Bayswater, Brick Lane, Holborn, Shepherds Bush + Stratford
Bumper cars at Namco Funscape
Why: Crashing mini cars into your friends’ mini cars has never stopped being fun (and probably won’t ever), which is why you and your pals should get on down to Namco Funscape for a go on their awesome bumper cars. That’s not all this fun house has either – there’s pool, air hockey, arcade games and loads more so you can relive your teenage years with your mates in style.
Where: Namco Funscape, Waterloo
The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Why: Absolutely magical in every sense of the word, The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden is a must for any Potter fans. It’s essential you book in advance, and the timed entry means it’ll take a bit of planning, but once there you and your friends can lose yourselves in JK Rowling’s magical world.
Where: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Hertfordshire
Crazy Golf at Swingers West End
Why: Swingers combines crazy golf, street food and incredible cocktails into one super-fun experience. We recommend tucking into a Butter Fingers cocktail (a butter-washed whiskey and maple Old Fashioned) before unleashing your inner Rory McIlroy on one of two fiendishly tricky nine-hole courses, enjoying every bungled shot your friends make. Tuck into burgers or tacos from one of the street stalls afterwards.
Where: Swingers West End, Marylebone
Planning to celebrate Palentine’s AND Valentine’s? Check out our guide to where to eat on Valentine’s Day