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10 gift ideas that will see you fall in love with local this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, while just another a day to some, is still a special opportunity to show your loved ones just how much you care.

Finding a thoughtful gift to do just that can be a challenge. This year, we recommend looking a little closer to home - that perfect gesture might be right under your nose.

From food to fashion to festivals, Northern Ireland is bursting with the very best. Here is just a selection of our favourites for February’s most fuzzy day.

1. Light someone’s fire

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Scent is one of the most-powerful senses and no one knows scent like founder of the Bearded Candle Makers, Michael Morris. Often referred to as an alchemist, Michael has a self-declared obsession with documenting memories and experiences and bringing them to life again through his candles.

Every candle in the range uses the best quality soy wax and is made in the brand’s workshop in Downpatrick. We recommend Embroidered Dreams – an ode to the ever-romantic W.B. Yeats or Love – a rose-scented classic.

Top tip: if you don’t have time to order online you can pick up from St. George’s Market, Studio Souk Belfast, Woven Banbridge, Painted Earth Newcastle or in klöver Hillsborough.

2. Raise your loved one’s spirits

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Provided your significant other enjoys a tipple now and again, locally-produced gin is one way to go to get into the loving spirit of the day. Co Down-based Copeland Spirits has an ever-growing, impressive portfolio of gins are available from all good off-licenses.

We recommend its Spiced Apple and Blackcurrant Gin – a warm, fruit flavour with that essential kick of spice to heat up your Valentine’s evening. Simply pour a serving of this rich-red gin into a glass of ice, top-up with premium tonic and garnish with a slice of clementine and a cinnamon stick.

3. Make them wait!

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With so much planned around Northern Ireland this summer, booking a getaway or activity might be worth the wait.

The Open makes its long-awaited return to the Royal Portrush this July. Who wouldn’t want to experience the drama and excitement as the world's best players face the unrelenting challenge of this links course?

For something a little closer to home, Belfast Gin Fest takes place from June 21-23  and Belsonic 2019 has something for everyone from Slash to Stormzy.

4. Play it safe with classic romance

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Classic romance still has its part to play in Valentine’s gifting. But let’s be honest, petrol station flowers and chocolate are more ‘last minute’ than ‘lasting love’.

The Ormeau Road’s, Memento, on the other hand, offers a creative, decadent and definitely romantic selection. Starting at £42.50, its red rose offering is incredible with each bouquet consisting of Ever Red – a rose variety native to East Africa known for their large head, deep velvet red hue and lifespan.

Each professionally arranged bouquet is hand-tied, nestled in lush green foliage and shimmering organza, and presented in eco-friendly living vases with a gift card designed specifically by local illustrator Peach Illustrate.

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If you really want to sweeten your love, we recommend Co Couture Chocolates. This Belfast-based boutique offers luxurious, fresh chocolates and chocolate bars - all made in small batches using only the finest raw ingredients to ensure the ultimate taste sensation. Drool.

5. Add passion... with fashion!

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Across Northern Ireland you’ll find some of the most-talented designers and creators. There’s the North Coast’s Sara O’Neill whose coveted range of hand-drawn scarves and pocket squares are made with the finest silk.

Belfast’s best-known couture milliner, Grainne Maher, has designed hats for celebrities no less – the perfect treat as race season approaches.

6. Make it extra cheesy

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Established in 1897, Sawers, is recognised as an Aladdin’s Cave of culinary delights. Boasting the best cheese selection across the island, its varieties include local and continental cheeses. Why not pop in and put together a hamper of gourmet goodness? The smellier the better we say.

7. Be a good sport

If you and your better half are yet to experience the half time entertainment of a Belfast Giants game, we suggest you book tickets to the next home game. Boasting some of the most-loyal fans ever, the Giants always put on a great show and every game delivers on atmosphere.

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If you fancy something a little more laid-back why not take a tour of Ulster Rugby’s home ground? Visitors can discover the roots of the provincial and the professional game, select their dream team and test their own rugby skills in the kicking challenge. The Visitor Experience also includes a behind the scenes tour of the changing rooms, tunnel, dugouts and the state-of-the-art training facility and gym.

8. From the art

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Sometimes actions speak louder than words and a picture can tell a thousand, so art seems like a good way to show how much you care, right? From Terry Bradley to Visual Waste to Brian John Spencer, the city itself is awash with various style of artistic talent.

If you can’t find an artist that fits the bill, why not visit some of Northern Ireland’s galleries or gift shops. Studio Souk is proof that shopping local does not compromise quality or price and this little gem of a store celebrates a huge portfolio of local talent from right across Northern Ireland. Holywood’s The Yard allows you to browse its collection of paintings and prints online.

9. Kiss and make-up!

Some of the world’s most sought after cosmetic goodies are produced by local brands. Tanning brands Lusso, He-Shi and Vita Liberata will have your love all a glow while professional brush brand, Powder n Pout, is a fail-safe for any make-up lover. Natural facial hair care brand, Belfast Beard Company, is a must for any wild beasts in need of little taming.

10. Get inspired by the city of love

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Can’t afford a trip to Paris? You can still give your love a taste of the city of love with AC Hotel. Its restaurant, Novelli at City Quays, is the multi-Michelin-starred French chef, Jean Christophe Novelli's Ireland debut. Situated on the waterfront, with unparalleled views across Belfast Lough, Novelli at City Quays offers a stylish setting and Mediterranean and French influenced food.

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