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Hunk-a Hunk-a Burnin’ Loveland

How a Simple Idea Turned into a Signature 3-day Affair Like No Other

Article by Nicole Browning

Photography by Krista Rose

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

Looking for a unique and festive way to spend Valentine’s Day? A place to keep your winter spirits soaring with loved ones of all ages? Come spend the entire Valentine’s Day weekend, February 9 through 11, in the Sweetheart of Ohio! The City of Loveland has planned a Hearts Afire Weekend that’s bound to set your heart aflame to celebrate all things St. Valentine—it’s an event-packed weekend you definitely don’t want to miss.

Hearts Afire Weekend is a somewhat new tradition for Loveland, just starting back in 2022. The city has events they organize and host each year—Independence Day and Memorial Day, to name a few. But, “We’re the City of Loveland, and we didn’t have a Valentine’s Day Celebration,” explains Krista Rose, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the City of Loveland, and point person spearheading the weekend’s organization. 

It started thanks to a pair of Loveland friends—Nancy Duff and Sherri Fening of the city’s Special Events Committee. During the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance’s annual Valentine’s Day breakfast, they couldn’t help but dream up how much bigger the holiday truly could be. From those ideas (shared with city staff), turning Valentine’s Day into a comprehensive weekend-long event in Loveland was a no-brainer. “Our town has so much charm, and people love the name, plus they were already coming here to celebrate Valentine’s Day—so we thought, let’s do something to make it official,” Krista remembers. 

Maybe the most impressive feat of the weekend, Loveland’s Hearts Afire boasts Cincinnati’s only ice sculpture festival. Free to the public, multiple businesses around town sponsor ice sculptures, which will be on display starting Saturday at noon, with a walking tour available digitally. Not only are there 25+ sculptures for you to view, but there are also other activities to participate in—from arts and crafts to a scavenger hunt, and a wide array of sweetheart decor as you traverse your tour path. Pro tip: on Saturday from 12–6 p.m. along West Loveland Ave, check out the demonstrations showcasing the sheer talent and finesse necessary to make these incredible, 400-pound ice statues.

When asked what’s not to be missed, Krista’s answer is immediate and enthusiastic. “We’ll have two types of dance lessons here at City Hall—on Friday night, there’s line dancing, and on Saturday, ballroom dancing.” The instructors come from Lori’s Roadhouse and Cincinnati’s Salsa on the Square, and Krista assures me that every year, the dance lessons are a huge hit. 

Not to be forgotten, of course, is the Loveland Stage Company. “They’re doing a variety show and a Hearts Afire Valentine pageant for children ages 1 to 4, with proceeds and donations (accepted at the door) that go toward their HVAC Campaign,” Krista mentions.

Need to vent a little (harmless) Valentine's vengeance? “New this year is ‘Heartbreak Row’—all along Railway Ave. Hurl an axe or two at ‘Love Is a Battlefield,’ toast an ex’s absence, or belt out some heartbreak with Karaoke.” Krista gushes when she explains there’s something for just about everyone here.

Have we tickled your fancy? How can you resist this whole host of events? With everything from carriage rides, speed dating and fire twirlers to pottery painting, photo booths and so much more in between. All Cupid-approved fun, of course.

“The Hearts Afire event is such a natural for a city called Loveland!” says Mayor Kathy Bailey. “The committee of city staff and volunteers who plan this event somehow manage to keep outdoing themselves—there truly is something for everyone, of any age. Come join us and see all the wonderful things the amazing City of Loveland has to offer!”

Weekend Must-Dos

- 8:30A: Valentine Breakfast at Oasis Conference Center
- 5P: Galentine Night Downtown
- 7P: Love Songs SINGO at Hops & Berry Taproom

- 10A: Puppy Kissing Booth at Loveland Hardware General Store
- 1P: Blind Date with a Book with the Loveland Library at City Hall
- 4P: Ax Throwing at Heartbreak Row on Railroad Avenue
- 8P: Fireworks

- 9A: Chasing Cupid 5K, Fleet Feet (no registration required)
-10A: Brunches—Sweethearts at Tano Bistro, Swifties at Paxton’s