By Dan England

Let’s face it. Valentine’s Day is a scam. There’s no reason you should have to buy flowers, candy or silk PJs a month after blowing a month’s salary on Christmas. Valentine’s Day is a retail-driven “holiday” that guilts you into buying something just to prove your love when you probably prove it every day by picking their hair out of the sink and not complaining about it.

Having said all that, it’s also a golden ticket.

Maybe your significant other didn’t appreciate the vacuum, camouflage thong or McDonald’s gift card you got them for Christmas. Maybe you got a “World’s Best (fill in your own blank here because it doesn’t matter, all those shirts suck)” and you exchanged it for a Def Leppard T-shirt and your significant other found out. Or maybe you forgot to get your significant other anything at all, not even a card, and the pack of sugarless gum you keep in your car wasn’t viewed as a proper substitute.

Or you just said something wrong, which happens about three times a week. Well, Valentine’s Day will bail you out of those situations and practically anything else. And here’s a little secret: Many places host fun activities to go with the holiday, and many of them are pretty cheap. In fact, we’ve got your guide right here. Here are eight things to do on Valentine’s Day to rekindle the romance in your relationship, or at least get you a clean slate until the next time you screw up.

The Loveland Sweetheart Festival
This city calls itself the nation’s “Sweetheart City” and proves it by treating Valentine’s Day the way the elves at the North Pole treat Christmas. The city’s biggest event is its Sweetheart Festival billed as a way to show off its thriving downtown and arts community. There’s a lot to see regarding Loveland’s art scene, including a Kids’ Street with rides and activities, a tunnel of love made from arches decorated with lights, community art projects, a Palace of Sweets featuring local candy and dessert makers, and live music, including headliner Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. The festival runs February 14-15 in Downtown Loveland. Find out more at loveland.org/events-2/sweet-heart-festival.

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse
Has someone got you firmly in the Friend Zone, and you’d rather be in Lover’s Lane? Take him or her to Grimm Brothers in Loveland, which brews a love potion every Valentine’s Day. This year’s Bleeding Heart is a Baltic porter brewed with tart cherry and blackberry. You’ll find it in Loveland restaurants and bars as well as Loveland liquor stores.

Cosmic Skate
Set fire to the ice of the Greeley Ice Haus in downtown Greeley. The ice-skating rink used to host a sweetheart skate, but since Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday night, you can take your sweetheart skating Cosmic style instead. The skate includes special lights, music and inexpensive recreation from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Go to greeleyrec.com/
facilities/greeley-ice-haus for more information.

Dinner for Two
Yes, we know you probably planned to take your significant other out to dinner, but Chimney Park of Windsor, one of the finest fine-dining restaurants in Northern Colorado, offers a five-course meal specially prepared for Valentine’s Day. Go to chimneypark.com for more information.

The Cooking Studio
This Fort Collins studio offers a cooking class with four dishes chosen for Valentine’s Day that you’ll prepare with your loved one. You’ll end the night at the table as you eat your creations and share the lessons you learned. Go to the-cooking-studio.com for more details.

Re-mailing Program
Bring your valentines to Loveland to get them hand-stamped by the Sweetheart City at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce. People from all over the world send in valentines to get them kissed by Loveland, but you’ve got a short drive to the most unique valentine on earth. Valentines must be received by February 7 to ensure Valentine’s Day delivery. Go to loveland.com for more information.

Catch Me If You Can
We know what you’re saying. Thank GOD you’ve listed a race. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day? But this Fort Collins race has a twist: The females get a head start. Women get three minutes for the 5K and five minutes for the 10K. It takes place the day after Valentine’s Day, so you can feel a little less guilty about all that chocolate you ate. Go to frontrangefreeze.com/catch-me-if-you-can for more information. Loveland also has its more conventional Sweetheart Classic 4-miler race on February 15.

Singing Valentines
Many high schools in the area offer singing Valentines as well as the Valentine City Chorus, a barbershop-style choir (valentinecitychorus.com), to anyone in Northern Colorado. You’ll need to book these early. If you do want specific schools, call the choir director and see if they offer it. You may even inspire them to give it a try.