Whether dancing or donating, Valentine’s Day offers a variety of ways to embrace and share love. While some may pamper their family members with puppets, pajama parties and plush toys, others may indulge themselves or their sweethearts in magic shows, balloon hugs and a host of Hygge comforts.
Yes, Chicagoans can get into the Danish concept of “Hygge” (pronounced hue-gah) via the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce’s Hygge Fest. The month-long festival features Hygge-themed promotions from participating Andersonville businesses, including its annual “With Love from Andersonville” Valentine’s Day campaign that donates 14 percent of proceeds to charity. There’s also a coffee and hot cocoa event reinvented with a COVID-friendly spin. Click here for more information on offerings.
Across town, social media darlings can strike a pose in the “Luft Love Hug” (through Feb. 14) at Luft Balloons on West Armitage. Comprised of thousands of metallic balloons, the special Valentine’s immersive experience presents perfect opportunities for selfies.
“We are all experiencing a different Valentine’s holiday this year,” says owner Elaine Frei. “I wanted to do something memorable and over the top that people could enjoy safely. It gives people an opportunity to come together and share the love. Our number one mission is to bring joy to the Chicagoland area through the art of balloon design.”
Per COVID protocols, guests may sign up for one 15-minute slot ($22 for up to six people). Masks are required but can be removed when creating Instagrammable photos. For more information, visit Luft Balloons.
Those who love wildlife can symbolically adopt an animal (panther, polar bear, penguin, sea otter, shark, manatee and more) from Defenders of Wildlife. In addition to helping with life-saving conservation efforts, each adoption of $55 comes with a plush toy. To purchase over the phone, call 1-800-385-9712.
Aspiring ballerinas aged nine to 12 years old are encouraged to attend a virutal Valentine’s Pajama Party on Friday (Feb. 12) from 6:30 to 8 p.m. CST. Hosted by The Joffrey Academy of Dance, students will receive a video visit from Joffrey Company artists, a warm-up with a ballet class, and lesson on a variation from “Cinderella.” Tickets ($30-$45) must be reserved through Eventbrite. Attendees need some dance experience, a device that connects to Zoom, a charger, an area to dance, ballet shoes and comfy pajamas.
A Red Orchid Theatre presents “Missed Connections” (through Feb. 28) by magician Jon Tai and Alex Gruhin. The live, interactive and virtual play ($25) features an intimate and immersive evening of story and magic where things imagined become real and connection is possible through the shared experience of wonder—and a Zoom link. According to the company’s artistic director Kirsten Fitzgerald, it’s “a totally unique theatrical event, designed for a new performing arts media landscape, enabled by and co-created with its audience on a performance-by-performance basis.”
“Magic Parlour at Home” is currently performing Valentine-themed shows (Feb. 12-14) which include mind-reading acts that ask patrons to recall their childhood crushes. “We found a magical way to bring people together when togetherness is desperately needed,” says magician Dennis Watkins.
“My biggest goal for virtual programming was to create an experience that was as interactive and magical as my live performances,” continues Watkins. “Close-up cameras let me perform material that is just too small for most venues. And I’ve learned that reading minds over the internet is often more powerful than it is in person.”
Performances take place via Zoom and require a computer with high-speed internet and a functioning camera and microphone. For tickets ($49-$65 per one household or group), visit TheMagicParlourChicago.com.
Throughout the season (Feb. 12-28), Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is offering limited Valentine Pop-Up Puppet-Grams. Traveling puppeteer Mark Blashford and a marionette will present a personal message of love, performed live on the receipient’s doorstep. An original watercolor painting and red rose will be given at the conclusion of the show. To order ($75), visit ChicagoPuppetFest.org.
Top image: Hygge Books & Games from Swedish American Museum
Middle images: Courtesy of Luft Balloons and Defenders of Wildlife
Lower image: Doorstep Marionette Photo byTurner Blashford