Summer is coming! Time to evenings full of fresh air, friends and a cheeky glass of Pimms (or three). All you need is the perfect setting in which to enjoy the particular pleasures of a British summer evening: an open air cinema.
Here are our pick of the best outdoor cinema experiences that will add a little extra warmth to your summer…
1. Secret Cinema
Location: London, 21 March – 10 June
The Secret Cinema crew can take a lot of credit for starting the ‘outdoor cinema’ trend. Since it was founded in 2007 it has won a dedicated following among movie fans with an adventurous spirit. They are famous for screening iconic films in unusual settings which are usually related to the film’s theme.
For instance, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was screened in an abandoned hospital in London, Back to the Future was shown in a life-size replica of 1950s Hill Valley Town and The Empire Strikes Back was shown amongst fake snow.
This year, Secret Cinema is branching out with the sci-fi classic Blade Runner. Expect built-up areas, dry ice, flying cars and lots of neon!
2. Screen Machine
Location: All over Scotland
Remember school library buses? Well Screen Machine is basically a tricked-out, film-friendly version. The distinctive blue lorry travels the length and breadth of Scotland every summer, stopping off at film festivals, rural communities and cities along the way.
Inside, there is an 80-seat air conditioned cinema which screens everything from blockbusters (Black Panther, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) to child-friendly films (Coco, Paddington 2) and modern classics (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
Take advantage of a sunny day by enjoying a picnic or a pint before settling in for a movie. Or take shelter from the Highlands’ rain while being entertained!
3. The Luna Cinema
Location: England, Scotland, Wales…and the Isle of Wight
The Luna Cinema has really nailed the whole ‘outdoor cinema’ thing. It specialises in outdoor screenings with a twist. At a screening of Crocodile Dundee, ‘premium’ seats were available in rubber dinghies floating in an open air pool, while other screenings have featured fully made-up beds under the stars.
Every screening comes with its own bar and catering options, and you can buy Luna blankets and inflatable back rests for a little extra comfort.
This year is the Luna’s 10th, and we’re sure there will be a suitably grand selection of films to accompany the celebrations.
4. Picnic Cinema
Location: The North of England
Forget about genteel rooftop film screenings at hip London locations…this is how northerners do outdoor cinema. Picnic Cinema is raw and rural…and always fun. Each screening takes place in a different location across the North of England (think forests and old castles in the middle of nowhere), with camping facilities nearby.
Events are like mini festivals, with a dress code, a movie screening and a themed party afterwards. For instance, The Dead Twins Ball featured a viewing of The Shining in a creepy gothic castle, followed by an 80s themed quiz and music by Talking Heads, Madonna, The Cure, and more. Oh, and everyone must come dressed as a bloodied, evil twin.
This year you can enjoy Withnail & I in its original filming location, The Big Lebowski, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and more.
5. Moonlight Flicks
Location: Roman Gardens, Chester
The premise of Moonlight Flicks is simple: great films in beautiful locations under the stars. The films start at sunset, creating a bewitching atmosphere in which to enjoy classics such as Roman Holiday, Some Like it Hot, and The Big Lebowski.
You can bring your own food and drinks, plus a blanket or two. Kid-friendly screenings are also available, with slightly earlier starting times so that you can be home by bedtime!
6. Cult Screens
Location: Across England
Cult Screens are the cool kids of the outdoor cinema industry. They are known for their edgy locations (such as Oxford’s Old Prison Exercise Yard), trendy catering (local ales, and hot dogs which are specially imported from Germany) and eclectic film choices such as Reservoir Dogs, Amelie and Whiplash.
But the best thing about Cult Screens is the chairs. No one will be left to sit on the soggy ground (unless you want to, of course), here it is all about comfy deck chairs and bean bags, so you can just lean back, beer in hand, and catch up on the coolest films of the past 40 years.