Maybe you and your partner share financial goals beyond steak dinners for two. Maybe your sweetheart’s personal style is more Mardi Gras beads than precious metal. Or maybe you just started dating recently, and the idea of making reservations sounds like overkill.
Fear not: here are eight ideas for romantic plans this weekend that are cheap or practically free. Since it’s Mardi Gras, I’ll assume you’re buying drinks anyway.
DARN NEAR FREE
Krewe of Endymion
Even if you’re not buying your sweetie a Valentine's gift, you can catch one at Endymion. The krewe’s 2015 theme is “Fantastic Voyages,” but the throws are all about love: plush teddy bears, light-up roses, heart-shaped medallions and plastic rings. The parade rolls from Mid-City and circles the CBD and Warehouse District on its way to the Superdome, offering plenty of vantage points. Just make sure to give yourself enough time for all 35 floats.
: 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Mid-City and the CBD (see Rex Duke’s Mardi Gras Guide
: Free, especially if you BYOB.
Rebirth Brass Band & Naughty Professor
Saturday's Krewe of Endymion parade — cheap entertainment for all.
It’s not difficult to find free music during Mardi Gras, but Howlin’ Wolf has an especially promising lineup of free shows this weekend. Rebirth Brass Band and Naughty Professor perform on Valentine’s night after Endymion. If you’re already booked for Saturday, Rebirth plays with Hazy Ray on Friday night, and there’s a free Dumpstaphunk show on Sunday, too.
: 10 p.m. Saturday at Howlin' Wolf, 907 South Peters St.
: No cover. Tip your bartenders.
Second Saturday on St. Claude
The 14th also happens to be opening night at the art galleries along St. Claude Avenue. At Good Children Gallery, artist Lala Rascic takes inspiration from art historian and TV presenter Simon Schama with work that explores culture and landscape. (I once made a boyfriend watch all 15 hours of Schama’s History of Britain
with me. I’m fun!) If you’d like to reclaim a Hallmark holiday for feminism, Katrina Andry’s show at Staple Goods addresses street harassment against women. Plus: gallery openings are a sure bet for free wine.
: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday in the St. Claude Arts District along St. Claude Avenue
Alexandra’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Your bae (or your single BFF) professes to hate Valentine’s Day, but you’d feel terrible if you left them at home looking at photos of their friends’ dates on Instagram. Musician Alexandra Scott has just the ticket: a stacked lineup of local singer-songwriters performing nothing but sad love songs. The lonely hearts club includes Scott herself as well as Dayna Kurtz, Micah McKee, Kelcy Mae, Lynn Drury, Luke Allen and others. And there’s a costume contest!
: 6 p.m. Saturday at Siberia, 2227 St. Claude Ave.
: No cover, but Siberia’s Slavic food joint Kukhnya is cash-only.
It’s impossible to take yourself too seriously at mini-golf, making it the perfect casual plan for new couples or potentially awkward double dates. City Putt is taking the atmosphere up a notch for Valentine’s Eve, with a romantic playlist and a photo booth on Friday night. The first 25 couples to arrive receive roses and free Valentine’s treats.
: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at City Putt, 8 Victory Ave. in City Park
: $8 per person for a round of mini golf; $4 each for a second round.
Valentine’s Day Cover Band Show
The biannual benefit for the New Orleans Community Printshop features local bands performing the music of Marilyn Manson, Madonna, My Bloody Valentine, Tom Jones, the Butthole Surfers and more. If a night of all cover songs puts you in a mood to do some singing of your own, karaoke at Kajun’s is right next door.
: 8 p.m. Friday at Allways Lounge, 2240 St. Claude Ave.
: $5 cover.
Bringer of Destruction release party
$12.50 gets you admission to the S&M-lite Fifty Shades of Grey, which opens just in time for Valentine's Day. Handcuffs and blindfold not included.
Take a craft beer lover to try Bringer of Destruction, the new double IPA created by NOLA Brewing and San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. just for Mardi Gras. The Isis and Tucks parades will pass during the afternoon, so there’s no risk of day-drinking malaise. Need a quick primer to impress your date? Beer Advocate has a helpful guide
to the history and appreciation of the double IPA. (They suggest pairing double IPAs with cheese; luckily, Avenue Pub offers a selection from St. James Cheese Company.)
: Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at Avenue Pub, 1732 Saint Charles Ave.
: As much as you care to drink, plus $12 for that cheese plate.
Fifty Shades of Grey
Would a steamy screen adaptation of the best-selling erotic romance novel set the Valentine’s mood just right? With two film sequels already announced, you could probably make this an annual tradition. Am I judging? I’m not judging.
: Starts Friday at Prytania Theatre, Canal Place and all major theaters
: $12.50 for a regular ticket.