Whether you think that love will keep us together or Cupid is stupid, there's no stopping the day of hearts and arrows. Feb. 14 may be just another Hallmark holiday, but if you're half of a couple, chances are your sweetie is hoping for some sort of acknowledgment of your unwavering affections. Make a grand gesture — no, not in a sky-writing or diamond-ring way, necessarily, but in an "I gave this more thought than a Whitman's Sampler from the Dollar General way." Here's a few unique ways to spend Valentine's weekend. For an extended list, go to mountainx.com. For more ideas, visit Clubland.

Love in color, and don’t forget the shiny beads: This year, much of Asheville’s Mardi Gras festivities — including a parade and a ball — will be happening on Valentine’s Day. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Friday, Feb. 12
• Malaprop's hosts a chocolate and wine tasting. "Join us for a pre-Valentine's hedonists' paradise!" says the press release. A sommelier from Weinhaus discusses several wine varieties, chocolates are from The Chocolate Fetish and each ticket holder receives a rose from Bloomin' Art. Seating is limited. 6 p.m., $15. Info: 254-6734.

Saturday, Feb. 13
• Go back in time at the Big Band Sweetheart Dance. The event is slated to "bring back the golden days of big band dancing at the one-of-a-kind location of the hangar of the WNC Air Museum, where the feature décor is airplanes from the decades surrounding the Second World War." Music is provided by the 17-piece Hendersonville Swing Band, under the direction of Jerry Zink. Tickets are $100 each and include cocktails and dinner. 6-10 p.m. Info: 693-0731.

• If pink hearts and rose petals aren't exactly your style, consider An Evening of Dark Love at the Boiler Room. "Come explore an alternative to Cupid's sissy little arrows and feel the impalement of deep hard slicing tunes," suggest event organizers. Angels on Acid, DJs Kri and Psyonic of T.O.U.C.H. Samadhi and End: The DJ perform. 8 p.m., $10.

• Singer/songwriter Angela Easterling invites fans to "Have an early Valentines Day with me!" She performs at the Saluda Inn Wine Cellar (229 Greenville Street, Saluda) at 8 p.m. The evening also involved food and wine and a super-romatic setting (up the ante: reserve a room). 8 p.m., no cover. saludainn.com and angelaeasterling.com.

Sunday, Feb. 14
• The Mystic Mountain Krewe invites you (and your brightly-colored sweetie) to the annual Asheville Mardi Gras parade. This year's theme is Wild at Heart. The creativity, frivolity and celebration starts at 2:37 p.m. at the corner of Walnut and Market Street in downtown Asheville. Featuring aplenty of zaniness, upbeat music, political satire and the Zambumba! samba group, which will hold a special performance of drumming and dance at Pritchard Park following the parade. There will be a Mardi Gras Ball following the parade at the Lexington Avenue Brewery. Also on the Mardi Gras bill: The Mardi Gras with Heart ball at the Grey Eagle, featuring the cajun and zydeco music of Carolina Gator Gumbo. At 5 p.m. there's a free intro to two-step class, and at 6 p.m. will be the revelry and dancing! Costumes encouraged. Tickets are $8 advance, $10 the day of the show.

• Visit the Asheville Art Museum for a Valentine's Day Pianoforte Concert Featuring Deborah Belcher and John Cobb. The concert celebrates the legendary relationship and artistry of Robert and Clara Wieck Schumann; music is interspersed with readings from the Schumanns' letters and diaries. 3 p.m. $5 Museum Members, $5 + museum admission for non-members. ashevilleart.org.

• Dinner and a show: Mo Daddy's serves up a "Lovey Dovey Special" ($20 for two!) starting at 5 p.m.; music from The Asheville Skyline Band (backing up performers including Amanda Platt, Galen Kipar, Chris O'Neill and Union County) starts at 7 p.m. $10 for the show. myspace.com/modaddysbar.

• Boo Reiners and Elena Skye of folk/bluegrass act Demolition String Band play a special Valentine's Day "power duo" show at Jack of the Wood. Says, the band, "Love songs, cheatin' songs, murder ballads, and maybe a Sonny & Cher cover, will make for a special evening for you and yer beloved." 8 p.m. demolitionstringband.com or jackofthewood.com.

• Round out Valentine's Day in style: Jazz/pop/electronica duo Paper Tiger performs at The Hookah Bar. The venue goes all out for the mushy holiday (with private rooms for rent including sweet treats, two complimentary special house cocktails, two movie passes and table cocktail service); Paper Tiger's downtempo sound sets the perfect swanky mood. 9 p.m., $8. thehookahbar.net, myspace.com/thepapertigermusic.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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