Our top picks of this year’s open air cinemas
With huge productions like Secret Cinema Presents Star Wars and the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, film viewing is no longer strictly limited to taking a trip to your local theatre or multiplex.
While the simplicity of a traditional venue can have its merits, summer’s a great time to explore some of the more quirky cinemas London and the rest of the UK have to offer.
Film at the Scoop, More London
If you’re not afraid of being distracted by the incredible view of Tower Bridge, 1,000-seat open-air sunken amphitheatre, The Scoop, is for you. This screen pops up on the South Bank by City Hall from September 3rd to the 26th and the programme includes everything from cult classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day off to more recent critically-acclaimed films like Rush and All Is Lost.
The good news is it’s totally free, which of course means the bad news is you’ll need to get there early to secure a seat. And don’t forget a cushion – there’s a reason why cinema seats aren’t usually made of concrete.
Mooring up at various riverside London locations, this summer Floating Cinema is exploring an Extra-Terrestrial theme.
Promising “a journey beyond Earth to explore our relationship with outer space; from imagined alternative worlds and the historical race for space travel, to alien invasion,” the varied programme ranges from open air fancy dress screenings of Flash Gordon and The Day the Earth Stood Still to live discussion from a panel of UFO experts.
Floating Cinema’s Extra-Terrestrial event runs from 21st August to 20th September and booking is essential. To find out more about future Floating Cinema events, check out their website.
While there may be other contenders, no-one quite manages to deliver an all-weather luxury cinema experience like The Electric.
At both the original location in Portobello and the more recently opened sister screen in Shoreditch, film-goers can enjoy a members club feel with comfy armchairs and an incredibly high standard of food and drink, making these two of the top cinemas in London.
As these screening rooms are part of the Soho House Group, a favourite with celebrities, there’s even a chance you might see a film star in the flesh while catching a film.
(Image credit: facebook.com/electricshoreditch)
Rooftop Film Club
Boasting four amazing rooftop locations across London, Rooftop Film Club is arguably one of the best things to experience in the city this summer.
Held on top of Peckham’s Bussey Building, The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, Kensington Roof Gardens and Roof East in Stratford, here you’ll find classic and cult movies mixed with new releases.
As well as having sister film clubs in New York and Los Angeles, they also ran the incredible Underground Film Club festival in the disused Charing Cross underground station in May, so watch out for more innovative events in the future.
(Image credit: facebook.com/rooftopfilmclub)
Nestled within L’Institut Français (or the French Cultural Institute), Ciné Lumière is haven for lovers of foreign and independent film. With an emphasis on French films, this South Kensington venue offers a good mix of new releases and retrospective seasons, as well as regularly playing host to visiting French filmmakers.
Aside from the 241-seat cinema there’s a grand lobby with stunning marble staircase and ‘Le Bistrot’ serving suitably Gallic refreshments. À bientôt!
Best of the rest
Brighton Big Screen
With a summer programme of more than 90 films, Brighton Big Screen is the UK’s largest beachfront cinema.
With daily films projected on the 40-square-metre screen, you can expect everything from Frozen to Back to the Future.
There’s even a beach bar and pop up restaurants to enjoy while you take in a movie.
(Image credit: facebook.com/BrightonsBigScreen)
The Kinema in the Woods, Lincolnshire
Nestled, as the name suggests, in woods in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire, The Kinema has to be seen to be believed.
Not only does this old fashioned gem still use back projection, but it’s also home to a Compton Kinestra organ, which is regularly played by the venue’s resident organist.
The film programme includes new releases and the occasional classic, as well as outdoor screenings at nearby Petwood House in the summer.
(Image credit: facebook.com/thekinemainthewoods)
Whitstable Outdoor Film Festival
If you fancy an outdoor film screening complete with a seascape and incredible sunset, head to the Whitstable Outdoor Film Festival.
Just over an hour out of London on the East Kent coast, this year’s event allows you to enjoy Jaws from a deck directly overlooking the water, or take in Top Gun perched on a deckchair on the atmospheric harbour arm.
Tickets are limited for these small screenings which run from September 2nd to the 6th, but you can find information about fringe events taking place throughout the year here.
(Image credit: facebook.com/Whitstable.outdoor.film.festival)
Route 66 Drive In, Manchester and Liverpool
While we can’t guarantee all of the romance and nostalgia attached to drive ins featured in classic movies, the Route 66 cinemas are certainly the UK’s only drive in screens operating full time in the UK.
Situated in Manchester and Liverpool these super-sized screens come complete with snack options and even pizza.
Will a full programme of new releases and a fixed price no matter how many film fans are in the car it’s certainly got to be worth a try.
The Station, North Yorkshire
This impressive restored Georgian train station houses a three-screen cinema.
You’ll also find a lovely collection of independent shops, artisan food and a restaurant.
With a programme of new releases and live events, this The Station is a real hub of the local town.
And with platform benches and high ceilings still in tact, you get a real feel for the building’s history.