The Best Outdoor Cinemas In The UK To Visit This Summer
The Debrief: Why Netflix inside when you can Blockbuster outside?
For all that we bitch and moan about how expensive it is to go to the cinema these days (even those of us who are clutching on to our definitely expired student cards in hope of an occasional discount), there’s something quite unironically magical about going to the movies. Minus that person in the front row with their phone out, the person behind kicking the back of your chair and the person to the left who chews unnecessarily loudly. But we’ll sidestep all of that for a moment.
An evening at the cinema is a jolly great time, and as easy and comforting as your Netflix account may be, there’s nothing quite like the big screen. And you know what makes the cinema even better? Taking it to the great outdoors, baby! Don’t be that dickhead who says they’ll take their mate or date to a special screening of something and then not. Don’t be that idiot who doesn’t clock on to the existence of these wonderful events until October. Get your diary out and go to one of these.
1. Rooftop Film Club
How do you take outdoor cinema one step further? Put the screen on a roof. Everyone loves a roof. The Rooftop Film Club have been doing their thing in London for a while now and this summer isn’t going to be any different. Take your pick of their four locations – Peckham’s Bussey Building, The Queen of Hoxton, Roof East or Kensington Roof Garden – climb the stairs, grab your wireless headphones and pull up a deck chair.
Moonlight, Top Gun and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are all showing this month. There’s always a huge roster of films so you’ll never be short of choice. See the full list here. Keep an eye out for the special sing-along screenings.
2. Luna Cinema
Luna Cinema have loads of screens that pop up across London throughout the summer (I counted 24 on their venue map) Stand out locations are Kew Gardens and Chiswick House and Gardens if you're into pretty surroundings.
If you’re looking for something a little later in the summer, Kew Gardens are showing Ghostbusters and Pulp Fiction in August and September respectively. But definitely do explore the full list of locations because there's SO much on.
3. Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House
If you haven’t seen this one advertised all over the place where the hell have you been mate? The annual Summer Screen at Somerset House is one of the go-to venues but be warned, it gets hella busy for that very reason.
You’ve got your standard mix of premieres, classics and cult faves. The screen runs for a two week period between 10th and 23rd August. Obviously, we’re most excited about Cruel Intentions, but take a look at the full list on the website.
4. Nomad Cinema, Grosvenor Square
If you want something really central in particularly idyllic surroundings, the Nomad pop up in Grosvenor Square might take your fancy. It’s opening specially for the fourth annual Grosvenor Film Festival this summer and you’ll be surrounded by lots of pretty low hanging, artfully lit trees if you wanted any material for Instagram.
Between 7 and 21 July you’ll have the chance to watch La, La Land and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story if you missed them the first time round, or you can revisit classics like Casablanca and Psycho if you’re in the mood for a throwback. Further info over on the website.
5. Lost Format Society, Croydon
Rooftop meets cinema, meets dancefloor, meets bar at Lost Format Society in Croydon. Don’t worry, you won’t have anyone shimmying into view as you’re trying to settle down with your popcorn, but there’s plenty to do before and after if you want to make a night of it.
So. Many. Films. Top Gear seems to be a popular one with these outdoor cinema things, so of course, that’s on the lineup. But in a rogue move so is Dr Strange and the Lego Batman Movie. Make of that what you will and you peruse the rest of the list on their website.
6. Luna Cinema, Warwick Castle
Bet you never thought you’d be able to casually go and watch a film at a castle. Now’s your chance. The Luna Cinema team will be setting up camp at Warwick Castle this summer and yes okay, it’s not exactly ‘in’ Birmingham, but it’s the nearest big city worth driving from for the experience.
La La Land, Dirty Dancing AND Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone! So, like, you could pretend you’re at Hogwarts while you’re watching it. Because you’ll be at a castle. Geddit? All the info is on the website.
7. Cult Screens, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Okay, if you want to win some serious date points, take your fancy person to the Botanical Gardens where Cult Screens are doing a pop up towards the end of this summer. Unless you’re particularly sensitive to pollen. Then this one might not be the best idea.
Remember I mentioned date points? Well if either of you are into that intense, kind of soppy, ‘I’ll die for you’ romance thing, Romeo and Juliet is on. The one with Leonardo DiCaprio. Yeah… Other things listed on the website though.
8. Outdoor Cinema Series, The Custard Factory
Consider your summer bank holiday in Birmingham accounted for. The outdoor space at the Custard Factory is being turned into a cinema space, with all the street food and drinks you’d normally find there on offer too. What a treat.
The Rocky Horror Show is definitely a highlight, and fancy dress is definitely encouraged. But if you’re up for feeling all the feels, The Lion King is due to play over the weekend too. See the full line-up and book tickets on Eventbrite.
9. Brighton Big Screen
You know those rare sunny days when you can’t bear to drag yourself away from the beach? Brighton has a solution/excuse for you not to leave: the Brighton Big Screen is bringing the action to the seafront over the summer months.
There’s an impressive line-up going on here. We’re talking Finding Dory, Mean Girls, The Wedding Singer, Zoolander and Clueless. We’re not sure how we feel about watching Love Actually though because, well, it’s not Christmas yet is it? See the full schedule.
10. Celluloid Sail
Forget the park, how do you feel about watching a film on a boat? Yes, a boat. The Celluloid Sail tour basically involves a big old boat with a big screen making stops around the country and yes, Bristol is one of these stops my friends. Before the film starts people on shore are treated to a live circus performance too. No big deal.
It’s just the one screening of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic (the one with Bill Murray and Owen Wilson), but you can get the full low down of the other boat action on the website.
11. Cult Screens, Bristol Zoo Gardens
How do you round off a visit to the zoo you ask? With a film in the gardens, obvs. Fun fact: when I was about three years old my mum took me for a picnic there but I didn’t like what she brought so went and joined another family. But yeah, now you can also go watch films there.
You’ll probably want to try and catch Pretty Woman, and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is going to be on too. Check out the full listing for all the other films and info.
12. Luna Cinema, Cardiff Castle
Another castle for any fans both cinematography and medieval history. If you’re Cardiff bound though, better hope for a late summer because this pop up isn’t making an appearance until mid-September.
Pretty standard line up I’m afraid – Top Gun, Grease and Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. Head over to the website to book your tickets.
13. Lost Lands
The idea behind the Lost Lands pop ups is that they make use of spaces that have been forgotten. There’s a collection of cinema screens that pop up across Cardiff and if you’re up for it, their weather policy explains that screenings will go ahead if it rains.
Grease makes an appearance, of course. But so does Logan and Happy Gilmore so you’ve got some variety on offer there. Have a gander at times and locations over on the website.
14. Moonlight Flicks, Chester
Chester’s only outdoor cinema is back for the best part of July and August and if it’s food service you’re after, Pizza Express will be providing takeaway delivered directly to your seat. You needn’t even take your eyes off the screen!
These guys have done it very well. There’s a selection of nine films but a total of 35 screenings, so if there’s something you desperately want to watch but already have plans one day, it’ll probably show again before the summer’s up. See the full cinema listings on the website.
15. Luna Cinema, Royal Botanic Garden
If you’re a fan of planning ahead, make a note in your diary to pop down to the Royal Botanic Garden because Luna Cinema will be hosting screenings there over the first weekend of September. There are also VIP and premium ticket options if you’re feeling fancy.
You have a trio of films to choose from: The Jungle Book (the live action version), Dirty Dancing and La La Land. Head over to the website and book tickets if they take your fancy.
16. Edinburgh’s Film in the City
Who doesn’t love a free event? Do yourself a favour and pack a picnic, leave your wallet at home and make your way over to St Andrew Square to catch a classic or two this June. Hell, stay the whole day and watch them all. It’s free!
If there’s one you want to make yourself available for, it’d say it’s The Breakfast Club on Friday 10 June. Other highlights include 10 Things I Hate About You on Sunday, but take your pick of what’s on offer on the Edinburgh Spotlight website.
17. Summer Nights Film Festival
If you like to watch your films in the most beautiful of beautiful of settings, make your way out to the RHS Garden in Wisley. They’re hosting a weekend film festival on the 14th and 15th July and tbh you’ll probably be super distracted by your surroundings but I think it’ll be worth it.
The two most popular films to be screened out of doors - Grease and Top Gun! I wonder if there’s a committee of outdoor cinema people who decide that nothing but Grease and Top Gun must be watched in the open air over summer, because it’s definitely a thing.
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