Credit crunch dating

The Midsummer's Eve dating experts offer 10 brilliant ideas for romancing the recession!

Our dating experts have put their heads together to come up with our top ten cheap or free dates to beat the credit crunch. Here we present our top ten dating ideas for free dates that are brilliant fun and very romantic, but are still mouthwateringly romantic!

In a recession dating can take on more importance as we cut back on luxuries and concentrate on what's really important in life - love and romance. Love shouldn't cost the earth and the more thoughtful you are the more romantic your date will be. These cheap dating ideas combine the most romantic dating settings, together with the all-important next-to-nothing price tag.

Cycling couple
Cycling or jogging -
shed pounds without shedding pounds

10. Jogging or cycling

Everybody likes long romantic walks, but why not think about getting fit whilst you're getting romantic? Find out what kind of exercise your date likes, and offer to accompany them. Cycling and jogging are good ideas - but make sure you're of similar fitness levels and don't leave your date lagging behind! Great fun way to get to know your date, whilst shedding pounds (but not the monetary variety).

Romance rating: 4
Cheap dating rating: 8

9. Free lectures and slideshows

Look in your local paper or listing magazines, or check out your local authority's and local university's web site for dates of upcoming free lectures. Find a topic you're both interested in, and learn something new - together. You'll be amazed at the free education that's on offer if you take the time to look into it. After the lecture is over you can settle down to discuss the matter in a secluded café or bar. You'll learn something new - and learn about your potential partner at the same time. Ideal!

Romance rating: 5
Cheap dating rating: 7

8. Be your own city tour guide

If you live in another city from your date, why not invite your date on a guided tour of your home town. You know your city better than anyone, so invite them to see the sites and sounds of your local area. Be proactive and set out a few essential stops - maybe the local museum (almost all towns, even small ones, have them), the galleries, the nice shops and best cafés. A couple of hours strolling around will let you find about all about your date, in a low-pressure way. You can show off where you live and enthuse about why you live there. If you live in Grottsville don't worry - there's always something positive to say. Makes a great daytime date with plenty of scope for conversation, a bit of history, and maybe romance as the sun goes down.

Romance rating: 7
Cheap dating rating: 5

City couple
Be your own city tour guide

7. Street markets, antiques fairs, Christmas markets

There's one or two in most major towns, and there's usually an interesting history attached to them. Look in the local papers for upcoming street markets or ongoing flea markets. They make a great date because there's always conversation pieces to find that will get you chatting and draw out your taste. You'll find out so much about each other as you're browsing the antiques. Don't forget the free food samples at farmer's markets and there's often free wine on offer too. Christmas markets, especially those with a French or German theme are becoming really popular, and now there's no need to fly to Hamburg or Paris to experience the ambience.

Romance rating: 8
Cheap dating rating: 5

6. Volunteering

Nothing says "I care" more than giving up some time to do something for your community. So why not invite your potential date on a volunteer day or a charity event? There are always conservation programmes going on which require man and womanpower. You'll find there are volunteering programmes which only last a day or half a day, a really give something back to society. Examples would be riverbed or open space clearing. Hard work but great fun and you'll be able to get to know your date in a low-pressure way. Or offer to clear an elderly neighbour's garden together. Just make sure your date doesn't feel roped into something they don't want to do. Not everybody likes getting their hands dirty - do some research first!

Romance rating: 5
Cheap dating rating: 8

5. Free jazz or open mic nights.

There's so much free live music out there if you know where to look. In London there's free jazz in the early evenings on the South Bank and this is a classic first date night spot. A growing trend is for open mic nights where allcomers are invited to take to the mic with a guitar or just their voice to sing. It's not all finger-in-the-ear folk music, and a very romantic, magical atmosphere is often conjured up. Plus there is the advantage of low pressure. Caution: don't be tempted to take to the mic yourself unless you are very confident about what you're doing - especially if you have a drink or two inside you. Bad singing is disastrous to fledgling relationships.

Romance rating: 8
Cheap dating rating: 5


Free jazz or open mic nights
Very romantic!

4. Museums

An obvious classic free date idea but included here for completeness! But, instead of going to the more obvious and popular museums, why not try the slightly more left-field ones, such as local town museums. Easier to get to, more likely to be free of charge to enter, and they place your date in a local context.

Romance rating: 6
Cheap dating rating: 9

3.  Fruit picking or mushroom gathering

Combine a lovely day in the country with gathering something tasty to eat. Then go home and cook it! In the summer there are blackberries galore along many country paths. And a growing trend is gathering mushrooms for the cooking pot. Borrow a book on edible fungi from the local library to make sure you don't poison your date - not a good way to impress! Then off you go, and you can cook a delicious crumble or mushroom dish when you get home.

Romance rating: 7
Cheap dating rating: 8

2.  Philosophy circle/discussion group

Look at your local adult education or university's web sites for free philosophy workshops. Even if you don't consider yourself intellectual, you'll find these groups really stimulating. You'll learn much about life, about yourself, and most importantly about your date. It's low pressure dating because you're both focussing on the topic in hand instead of each other. The groups are almost always free of charge. Show your intelligent side to your potential date and let their shine through!

Romance rating: 7
Cheap dating rating: 9

1.  Art exhibition openings

Art galleries are tremendously romantic. They bring out the intellectual and emotional sides to everybody and your date's reaction to art tells you so much about them. They give you something shared to focus on (low pressure) instead of being a head-to-head date (high pressure). They're sophisticated and absorbing. But here's our twist on this well-explored idea. Go to your local art dealers shops and ask to join their artist's exhibition mailing lists. When a new artist starts an exhibition of their work they'll throw an opening party, and you'll receive an invitation. These exhibition openings are usually local evening affairs, with free food and wine! So you get a great night out, low pressure, free food, free drinks, romance and sophistication all in one convenient package! The winner!

Romance rating: 9
Cheap dating rating: 10

© Midsummer's Eve 2009