The Art of Celebrating Valentine’s Day

By Susan Wallner

Jazz/cabaret singer Jane Monheit.

Certain Valentine’s Day traditions reign supreme. In elementary school, cards are given to every classmate and collected in decorated shoeboxes. As we get older, the standard becomes chocolate, roses, and dinner for two at a romantic restaurant. But there are alternatives! If you love the idea of Valentine’s Day but want to explore more creative ways of celebrating, Discover Jersey Arts has done the footwork for you. The results are featured on their website,, which offers “one stop shopping” to arts and culture in the Garden State.

According to Jonathan Elliott, Marketing & Communications Manager for Discover Jersey Arts, a call to the field went out in January for “Valentine’s Day appropriate” arts events. From the submissions, Jonathan and his colleagues chose 12 events from around the state that “hit a sweet spot,” and organized them geographically.

Starting in the south, you can show your love for an historic landmark. The 1908 Levoy Theatre on High Street in Millville is undergoing a massive restoration. The goal is to re-open the classic theater as a performing, screen arts and educational center serving Southern New Jersey. On Saturday, February 11th, there will be a dinner and dance fundraiser held at the New Jersey Motorsports Park, with live music provided by Don Frankso and “Love Monkey.” Called “In Love with the Levoy,” the night is a chance to party with a special someone – and contribute to a worthwhile cause, rolled into one.

Moving to central Jersey, Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton offers the chance to make handmade truffles under the guidance of chocolatier Charlie Musso. Unfortunately, this workshop is now fully booked. No fear, Grounds for Sculpture is offering other special treats, including a Valentine’s Day Tea with live music at The Peacock Café on the afternoon of February 11th, and, on Sunday, February 12th, a Valentine’s Day Brunch in Rat’s Kitchen. This behind-the-scenes dining event offers an exclusive look at a world class restaurant kitchen, as well as the chance to see your meal prepared on site. If you’re still thinking of a traditional dinner date, on Tuesday, February 14th, the très elegant Rats Restaurant is offering a special 5-course tasting menu for Valentine’s Day.

Finally, there are a variety of Valentine’s themed music events to choose from in the northern part of the state, including classical, folk, and cabaret. Jane Monheit will be giving her romantic take on jazz standards February 10th at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, and “audience composed messages from the heart” will be featured at the Folk Project in Morristown that same night. On February 11th, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has created an evening tailored for music lovers, promoting it with a video that proclaims, “I’m hungry for… a night out with my valentine.”


Watch a presentation of “NJSO Pops: A Valentine Treat” by NewJerseySymphony.

The evening features three acclaimed Broadway vocalists. If you go, consider the “Symphony Sweetheart” package – it includes a champagne and dessert reception with the artists after the concert.

For more on these and other Valentine’s Day options for creative souls in New Jersey, visit

Susan Wallner is an award-winning producer with PCK Media. She is a long-time contributor to State of the Arts, now airing on NJTV Sundays at 10 am and 8 pm.