In Berkshire County, plenty of places are getting ready to share the love, whether you love Valentine's Day or you hate it.
Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with Feb. 14.
I loathe the facts that heart-shaped candy has been on retail shelves since Thanksgiving, that not being in a romantic relationship on that day tends to make even the best of us feel loser-ish, and that, even in the 21st-century, not all couples in love are celebrated or recognized equally.
What I love about this time of year is the centuries-old tradition of sharing caring sentiments via Valentine's cards, how chefs pull out all the stops to put together amazing Valentine's menus, and the fact that, as with any holiday in the United States, V-Day is an excuse to party. Fortunately, our county is prepared to help us celebrate all of these loves.
While pretty much every restaurant will be featuring festive food, here's a look at some special local events planned to fulfill your heart's desires:
- The "Chocolate Berkshires" campaign continues to lure our tastebuds with various chocolate-themed events hosted by local businesses throughout the month of February. For all the happenings, visit http://chocolateberkshires.com/events.
- Mill City Productions presents John Cariani's theatrical romantic comedy "Almost Maine" On Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Heritage State Park, Building 4 North in North Adams. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the door or online at millcityproductions.org.
Valentine's Day | Thursday, Feb. 14 …
- The Stockbridge Library will host its 23rd annual benefit Valentine Book Party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Main Street. Guests may choose from a wide selection of adult and children's titles to purchase and donate to the library. In exchange, the library will create a personalized bookplate to honor a special Valentine. Refreshments will be served at this family-friendly event.
- Castle Street Café in Great Barrington will host a Valentine's Day dinner-dance with the Wanda Houston Band from 7 to 10 p.m.
- Nobody's Business will perform at The Lion's Den at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge at 8 p.m. Also, tarot card reader Norma Kirby will be giving readings. No cover.
- The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington will screen a romantic double feature. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr star in the 1957 classic, "An Affair to Remember," shown at 6 p.m.
- The film inspired the 1993 romantic comedy "Sleepless in Seattle," starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, which will be shown at 9 p.m. General admission tickets are $7 each, or $10 to see both Valentine's movies.
- Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox will hold a special Valentine's Day tea tasting from 3 to 5 p.m., with James Harron Sr., president of tea company Simpson & Vail Inc. Attendees are asked to bring their own favorite tea cups, which will become part of conversation at the event. The cost is $25 per person in advance, or $30 the day of. Reserve tickets by calling (413) 637-3206.
- Mass MoCA is hosting "Date Night," beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the museum in North Adams. The cost is $65 per couple; $50 if you're a member. Tour the galleries, craft a hand-made present for your one true love, and enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner for two in the café. Have kids? No problem. Drop them off in Kidspace ($15-$20) for their own night at the museum including dinner, art and more. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (413) 664-4481, ext. 8500.
- The Dream Away Lodge in Becket opens for the season with a Valentine's dinner and music by Heather Maloney at 8:30 p.m.
- Soulful, local 17-year-old singer-songwriter Walter Burmer will perform a free Valentine's show with his guitar, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Marketplace Café in Pittsfield. Nate Sears will accompany him on bass, guitar and with background vocals.
- The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown will host a special Valentine's Day theme "Looking at Lunchtime" gallery talk at 12:30 p.m. Acquisitions librarian Terri Boccia narrates a look at some of the greatest love stories ever told, as found in the Clark library's special collections. Free and open to the public.
- The ever-cheeky Gypsy Joynt is planning a "Screw U Cupid!!!" party with live music by rockabilly band Chops & Sauerkraut, beginning at 9 p.m. on Main Street in Great Barrington.
- Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts organizers are using Valentine's Day to promote the international One Billion Rising campaign to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence against women.
- Rise Up is a special dance party that will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. upstairs at Spice Dragon restaurant in Pittsfield, in tandem with the 10x10 Upstreet Festival. Tickets are $10 and include light fare and music with DJ Fern, as well as special readings, videos, and instruction for a special group dance routine. Learn more here: http://on.fb.me/11oN7Da
- Chameleons nightclub in Pittsfield is hosting "Moscato and Chocolate Kisses: A Ladies' Night Out" beginning at 9:30 p.m. DJ Head Nod will be playing the hits, while guests enjoy a free glass of moscato and a box of chocolates, courtesy of 80 Proof Entertainment at Stack Deck. This is a ladies-only event.
- PortSmitt's Lakeway Restaurant in Pittsfield will have jazz with The Ted Murray Trio from 7 to 10 p.m.
- Casey's Billiards in Pittsfield will host its annual "Love Stinks, Let's Drink" Valentine's party at 9 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 15 …
Saturday, Feb. 16 …
- Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox will host its annual Valentine's Dancin' at the Mansion event from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., featuring standards. Advance admission is $16 per person, or $30 per couple; day of is $20 per person or $35 per couple. Admission includes Hors d'oeuvres, and there will be a cash bar.
- The Meat Market in Great Barrington is hosting a Lonely Hearts Pig Roast and party from 7 to 10 p.m. Singles and couples welcome. Cost is $35 per person.
Monday, Feb. 18 …
- Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition will host its annual Post-Valentine's Dance with DJ BFG, beginning at 8 p.m. at the Elks Club in Pittsfield. Admission is $5 for BSCC members, $10 for non-members, and includes dancing, snacks and a 50/50 raffle.