Defy dating conventions with a Student Art Pass
Forget overpriced restaurants and crowded cinemas. Why not use your Student Art Pass to plan a cultural date with a difference? To help, we’ve put together a list of five venues with a romantic twist to impress your latest right swipe.
- Greater Manchester
Let’s start with Lyme Park, a place with excellent romantic credentials. Not only does this 1,400-acre estate boast an Edwardian rose garden, medieval deer park and Grade I-listed stately home, it also doubled as Pemberley, Mr Darcy’s country pile in the famous 1995 BBC production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Yes, it was here that Colin Firth emerged from the lake to the horror/delight of Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) – proving once and for all that shirts in the 1800s did in fact turn sexily see-through when wet. A train ride from Manchester, and free entry with a Student Art Pass, Lyme Park also offers the chance to take traditional afternoon tea in the Salting Room Tea Parlour (booking advised), attempt billiards in the Long Gallery and, to really get you in the spirit, try on Regency regalia in the Dressing Room.
Liverpool’s World Museum charts the planet’s long history through more than 1.7m internationally significant artefacts and specimens – among them, a collection of romantically named moths. Yep, found in the museum’s Bug House, these specimens include the 'True Lover’s Knot', and, Cupid’s favourite, the 'Archer’s Dart', so named because of the markings on its wings. As if this wasn’t reason enough to take your date here, the museum is also home to a planetarium where you can take a journey of cosmic discovery, just like Ross and Rachel from Friends (except, be careful not to sit on your juice box). Finally, your Student Art Pass gives you 50% off the extraordinary exhibition China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors, which spans almost 1,000 years of Chinese history and includes objects from one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries, the eponymous underground army of life-sized terracotta warriors.
What more hopeful slogan for a relationship can there be than ‘EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT’, spelled out in bright blue neon letters? This artwork by Turner Prize winner Martin Creed is emblazoned across the front of one of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s two striking buildings, which are home to an outstanding collection of modern and contemporary art. Here you can find work by Dame Barbara Hepworth, René Magritte and Francis Bacon, use your pass to get 50% off exceptional temporary exhibitions, or take an audio tour of the stunning sculpture park. And, if you want even more time in your lover’s company, stop for lunch on the garden terrace at Café Modern One.
- Greater London
Voted the ideal museum for a date in a nationwide poll run by eHarmony and Art Fund, this opulent monument to 19th-century art is one of the most extraordinary Victorian buildings in the country. Former home to eminent Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, the museum lays claim to being the only purpose-built studio-house open to the public in the UK. Its treasures include an ornate Arab Hall, built to showcase Leighton’s collection of over 1,000 Middle Eastern tiles, and a vast domed studio, where the glitterati of the Victorian age – including Queen Victoria herself – were once entertained. Leighton lived alone here for 30 years, in a world in which beauty and art were paramount – today, visits are free to Student Art Pass holders, and the museum hosts a regular programme of exhibitions, talks and concerts.
- South Glamorgan
Finally, there’s Cardiff Castle. An impressive setting for a date, it was once a Roman fort, later transformed into a palace for the 3rd Marquess of Bute (once one of the world’s richest men), featuring apartments filled with murals, carvings, stained glass and marble. House tours take visitors through the opulent surrounds of the Winter Smoking Room, The Nursery, Bute’s Bedroom and the Rooftop Garden. More recently in its 2,000-year history, the site has been used as a film location for hit TV shows like Doctor Who, Sherlock and Torchwood – try to spot familiar scenery or, if things aren’t going so well, you can always ask the staff if they’ll set up the castle’s historically accurate replica of a trebuchet, a 13th-century catapult that might bring a new twist to the idea of swiping left.