FACT: London is better in the summer and (dare we say it?) it looks like summer’s finally arrived! However, you don’t have to let the glorious sunshine get in the way of your favourite pastime – watching movies. Over the next few months, London’s best cinema seats are on rooftops, in parks and majestic courtyards, not in dingy multiplexes with sticky floors and Pic ‘N’ Mix that’s so over-priced it makes your eyes water. Check out our guide to London’s best open air cinemas:
Film4 Summer Screen
What: Films in one of London's most iconic settings
Why: From cult to contemporary cinema, the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most fantastic way to spend a summer evening. In the spectacular surroundings of the Edward J. Safra Fountain Court, you can see such timeless classics as Labyrinth andWizard of Ox as well as Carol, Being John Malkovich and 20 Feet From Stardom. Films start at 9pm but doors open from 6.30pm so make sure to pack a picnic and bring cushions!
Where: Somerset House
The Nomad Cinema
What: London's kookiest outdoor cinema
Why: From the Hyde Park lido to Brompton’s eerie cemetery, Nomad offers pop-up big screens in some of London’s most weird and wonderful places and their upcoming Grosvenor Film Festival looks set to be an absolute winner. An array of Belgravia and Mayfair locales, including Belgrave Square Garden, Grosvenor Square and Wilton Crescent Garden, are set to be turned into mini, open-air film festivals. Grab a blanket and a bottle of prosecco and treat your significant other to the ideal summer date.
Where: Various locations
What: Sssh! It's a secret!
Why: This guide simply wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Secret Cinema, the brilliantly immersive open air experience which combines outdoor film screenings with themed venues and interactive performances. This year they are reuniting star-crossed lovers as they turn a secret location into Verona Beach with a showing of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet. With DJs, choirs, artists and an audience of 5000 it’s going to be a spectacular cinema experience.
Where: Not Telling
What: An intimate and personal experience in a volunteer’s back garden
Why: Cinema too far away, too expensive, too underwhelming? One man, Dominic to be specific, thought so and decided to do something about it. He, with the help of neighbours and friends, crafted his own cinema in his garden hence the birth of the Backyard Cinema. So, grab any chair/sofa/deckchair, whatever takes your fancy, and huddle up with your neighbours for a cosy community experience with a cinema in your backyard.
Where: Camden Market (with Honest Burgers + Brooklyn Brewery) and Brick Lane
Rooftop Film Club
What: Screens classic, cult and new releases on London’s finest rooftops
Why: Rooftop bars are all we seem to hear about these days, but the Rooftop Film Club have taken a novel approach for utilising some of London’s greatest venues. With deckchairs, blankets and G&Ts on offer for all, snuggle in and enjoy what the Rooftop Film Club have to offer. Varying from cult classics like Clueless or Dirty Dancing, to modern day sensations such as Birdman or the raunchy of Fifty Shades of Grey, pick one of the four clubs and enjoy a film whilst watching the sun set over London.
Now, after a long hot summer as predicted by Love Island’s Caroline Flack, Rooftop Film Club have announced Sweet September on the Roof, for a final chance to enjoy some al fresco film watching. Screenings include Casablanca, with tinted sepia-style sunnies being dished out, alongside The Greatest Showman on Roof East and Deadpool 2 on 12th September.
So come on, whilst the sun is still peeping through, it’s your last chance to al-fresco it up, (and cosy up), to the movie classics with a cocktail and huge dose of popcorn.
Where: Peckham (Bussey Building), Shoreditch (Queen of Hoxton), Stratford (Roof East) and Kensington (Roof Gardens)
Time Out On The River
What: Cinema Whilst You Sail
Why: Just as you thought outdoor cinema couldn’t get any cooler. This experience from Time Out mixes cinema with sailing across the Thames. The perfect way to spend an evening, coupled with getting your partner to watch that rom-com you’ve always wanted them to – because let’s face it, there’s not much chance of an escape! The year, expect a jam-packed line-up from Casablanca to The Greatest Showman.
The Luna Cinema
What: By The Light Of The Luna
Why: Whilst most of us might celebrate our 10th birthday with a cocktail and/or cake, The Luna Cinema have gone one, or two, steps further with a huge line up of films, touring around some of the country’s most iconic venues. Until October, film buffs can choose from over 175 outdoor screenings from Royal Palaces, such as Hampton Court and Kensington Palace, to castles and manor houses, such as Warwick Castle, Chatsworth House, Westminster Abbey, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Leeds Castle, Kenwood House, Lulworth Castle and Harewood House. Wow, now that’s what we call an exhaustive list.
Founder George Wood says: “This year’s new releases are perhaps the strongest of any of the past ten years and we’re all excited to see films such as The Greatest Showman, Dunkirk, Shape of Water and Darkest Hour on a big screen under the stars.”