There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Movies tell us we have to celebrate with a romantic, candlelit dinner with our one true love. But what if you haven’t found that one true love? Or what if candlelight and fancy food is just not your thing?

Luckily, there are a variety of Valentine’s Day events around southern Maine that allow you to celebrate the idea of love in your own way. This year, there are concerts,  including one for anti-Valentine’s Day folks, a puppy snuggling event, romantic getaways, dinner specials, and an Old Port walking tour that chases Portland’s legendary Valentine’s Day Bandit.

Here are some ideas for ways to be the Valentine you want to be.

Where will Portland’s Valentine’s Day Bandit strike this year? Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer


Old Port Historic Tours offers a walking tour on Valentine’s Day that explores the legend and handiwork of Portland’s famed Valentine’s Day Bandit. Each year since at least the 1970s, somebody leaves hearts – some on small pieces of paper, some on larger banners – on buildings all over Portland. Is it one person? A group? Nobody will say. During the tour, people will get to see where the bandit struck this year and tour guide Leigh Rush Olson will talk about the history of the bandit’s exploits, as well as Portland’s history and landmarks, including Monument Square, the U.S. Custom’s House and the Commercial Street Waterfront. There are also promised bandit sightings, photo opportunities and a Valentine’s treat. The tour covers 2 miles and lasts about two and a half hours. It starts at 11 a.m. on Valentine’s Day and the cost is $45. Advance tickets are required. For more information, go to 


Take the Old Port Valentine’s Holiday Historic Walking Tour and see where Portland’s Valentine’s Day Bandit struck this year. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


City Theater in Biddeford is hosting a concert on Valentine’s night titled “Live, Love, Laugh,” which explores the funny side of love. There will be Broadway and pop tunes as well as comedy about all kinds of love – single love, new love, old love, married love and everything in between. The show is hosted by Carrow MacLean and the cast features veteran City Theater performers. The songs featured come from well-known musicals, including “The Music Man,” “Chicago” and “Hairspray.” Wine, beer, hard cider and non-alcoholic beverages will be available. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and tickets are $15, available at the door one hour before the show. For information, go to 


For those who think Valentine’s Day is just a made-up holiday created to sell more chocolates and roses, the Portland House of Music is hosting a show called “Breakup Before You Make Up, An Anti-Valentine’s Ball” on Monday. Local pop, funk and soul group Gina and the Red Eye Flight Crew will be performing music to break up to, or just to have fun to. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the music starts at 9 p.m. For more information go to 

Gina and The Red Eye Flight Crew.  Photo by Andrew Thompson


As we know from reading the comic strip “Peanuts” faithfully, happiness is a warm puppy. Well, you can find a lot of happiness on the Friday before Valentine’s Day at the Salt Yard Cafe, in the Canopy Portland Waterfront hotel on Commercial Street. The cafe is hosting  a Puppy Love happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m., featuring puppies brought in by the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.  The event is free and people can snuggle and play with as many puppies as possible. Anyone interested in adopting a puppy can talk to ARLGP staff and find a time to visit the agency’s Westbrook location during normal adoption hours. There will also be complimentary snacks. Canopy Portland Waterfront is a pet-friendly hotel, and it donates guest pet fees to the ARLGP. For more information, go to 



In the Kennebunks, you can celebrate the spirit of Valentine’s Day all month long with the annual “Paint the Town Red” promotion. Shops, restaurants and local landmarks are decorated in red and many business offer special sales and promotions, including deals on romantic dinners or cozy getaways at inns and hotels. Some of the events throughout the month include wine tastings, cooking classes, yoga packages and live music. The event is sponsored by the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel Chamber of Commerce. For a list of events and of places offering specials and packages, go to 

The Kennebunks will be decorated for Valentine’s Day all month long – and offering romantic specials – during the annual Paint the Town Red promotion. Photo by Heidi Kirn

One example of the places participating in the “Paint the Town Red” promotion this year is the Cape Arundel Inn & Resort in Kennebunkport. The inn’s Love Note package starts at $305 on Valentine’s night, and includes a dinner reservation at the inn’s Ocean Restaurant (dinner cost not included), plus a bottle of champagne, roses, chocolate-covered strawberries and a late check-out.  The Ocean Restaurant has a four-course Valentine’s menu on Friday, Saturday and Tuesday, with live music by harpist Mary Dunham. For more information, go to 

The Cape Arundel Inn & Resort is offering a Love Note package and other Valentine’s Day specials. Photo courtesy of Cape Arundel Inn & Resort


The title above does not refer to the ’80s rock band, but to some of the finest composers of romantic classical pieces. The Portland Symphony Orchestra will present a concert on Valentine’s Day titled “The Romantics: Rachmaninoff & Schumann,” but will feature works by others as well. PSO music director Eckert Preu will conduct, with guest pianist George Li performing. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Merrill Auditorium at City Hall in Portland. Tickets are $12 to $98. For more information, go to

Musical Director Eckert Preu will conduct the Portland Symphony Orchestra on Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy of the Portland Symphony Orchestra

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: