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​The 14th of February is a red-letter day for many, when they are encouraged to treat their Valentine’s to something a little more romantic than the usual.
GIFTS will be exchanged between lovers tomorrow; flowers will be bought and restaurant tables will be booked, for it is Valentine’s Day, the day of love.

Shwele Bawo is at the Market TheatreShwele Bawo is at the Market TheatreValentine’s Day is celebrated annually on 14 February and it has become a tradition for people to exchange gifts or cards to express the love one has for one’s partner. Special offers are also made, along with Valentine’s events at a variety of venues.

One such place is the Johannesburg Zoo, where couples can take a special night tour. According to Candice Segal, the zoo’s marketing assistant, couples will be taken to visit the nocturnal animals that are usually hidden from day-time visitors.

They can bring along their picnic baskets and be entertained by the soothing sounds of a violinist afterwards, while they dine under the Joburg stars. Booking is essential; contact the zoo on 011 646 2000 or send an email to

For those with the theatre close to their hearts, the Market Theatre is the place to be. Shwele Bawo will open tomorrow evening. The play deals with the issues of woman and child abuse. In a sensitive and thought-provoking way, it tackles the challenges that women face when tradition and modernity clash.

Written by Motshabi Tyelele, who also plays the main character of Dikeledi Nkabinde, the show tells the story of a downtrodden woman who is forced to stay in an abusive marriage because of tradition.

And if music be the food of love, then there is the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival. At this annual event, classical performances are combined with a keenly intelligent and creative approach to programming. The festival has been going on for a couple of weeks already and its aim is to invite people from all backgrounds and ages to unite in the enjoyment and celebration of music.

John Cusack FestivalAmong the performers are the likes of Chats Devroop, Marc Duby, Paul Hanmer, Mokale Koapeng, Pops Mohamed, Tinashe Chidanyika, Waldo Alexander, Hans Huyssen, Uwe Grosser, Magda de Vries and Frank Mallows, as well as a group of young jazz pianists participating in a workshop with Hanmer, the composer.

The festival is at the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park campus, on the corner of Kingsway and University roads. Performances run from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, and entry fees range from R100 to R190.

Across town, in northern Joburg, Montecasino’s Teatro presents The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest-running musical. The show has been seen by about 100 million people in almost 150 countries. Its romantic score includes Music of the Night and All I Ask of You, performed by a stellar South African cast.

The musical show tells the story of a disfigured musical genius known only as The Phantom, who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House. Show time is 8pm and booking fees ranges from R180 to R425.

There is little that is more romantic than stargazing, and the planetarium at Wits University hosts a tour of the night skies at 6pm and again at 8pm. The tour features some of the more romantic scenes visualised by astronomers of the past and present.

During the shows, Valentine’s Day messages will be displayed. The best message will win an evening for two at the Aloe Ridge Hotel in Muldersdrift, including dinner, a night’s accommodation and breakfast.

The Rand ClubThe Rand Club presents the Brief EncounterTickets are R34 for adults, R21 for children and R120 for families. Tickets are on sale at the door from 40 minutes before the shows start.

For film buffs, The Bioscope is the place to be, where High Fidelity, starring John Cusack will be screened. The film, a comedy drama about relationships, is part of the John Cusack Festival, which runs from 13 to 15 February.

Tickets are R40 and the show starts at 7.30pm. The Bioscope is at 286 Fox Street in the Johannesburg CBD, in the Maboneng precinct.

The venerable old Rand Club, on the corner of Loveday and Fox street in the CBD, will host a Valentine’s Special, where patrons will be taken back to 1945 with the film, Brief Encounter. It is about the conventions of British suburban life, focusing on a woman for whom real love brings unexpectedly violent emotions. Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard and Joyce Carey star.

Tickets are R160, including a two-course meal. Show time is 8pm; however, drinks will be served from 6pm and dinner at 7pm. For more information, contact Lisa Strydom on 011 870 4263 or email

Related stories:

Phantom stalks Joburg
Classical music on the agenda
Full February calendar at zoo
Play examines woman abuse