Watching a film is a great way to relax with friends and family, to keep in touch with art and culture, or simply to enjoy a bit of me-time – but in the summer months, it can seem a shame to spend warm days and evenings sitting inside. So why not make the most of the balmy weather and watch a classic film at one of the UK’s open-air cinemas?
Whether it’s an outdoor cinema or a drive-in, there’s something magical about catching a flick under the stars – and the good news is that there are many excellent venues all across the country. To get you inspired, here are eight of the best open-air cinemas across the UK.
1. The Luna Cinema, various locations
If you want to enjoy watching a classic film in a gorgeous setting, you’ll definitely want to check out The Luna Cinema. Throughout the summer months, The Luna Cinema has 44 screens that pop up all across England and Wales – so hopefully, there’ll be a venue near you.
What makes The Luna Cinema so special is the locations. Some of the most spectacular are Warwick Castle, Hampton Court, Westonbirt Arboretum, Chatsworth House, Westminster Abbey, and Bath Royal Crescent – so whether you want to watch a film among the trees, beside a stately home or in front of sweeping Regency houses, there’s something for everyone.
There are more than 150 screenings to choose from too. You can watch Hollywood classics like Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman; check out modern award-winning movies like Belfast or West Side Story; or watch kid-friendly classics like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Spiderman: No Way Home.
If you’re looking for comfort, you’ll find all that at Luna venues too. With cinema-quality screens, delicious food and drinks, VIP sofas, brand new two-seater double deckchairs, and personal in-car speakers if you’re watching in a drive-in venue (perfect for preserving your car battery!), this is an outdoor cinema experience like no other!
2. Rooftop Film Club, London
If you’re based in London and are looking for a memorable movie night, you might want to check out Rooftop Film Club. Watching a film outdoors always feels that bit more special, and at Rooftop Film Club they’ve made it even more magical by putting the screen on a roof.
There are two locations to choose from – Peckham’s Bussey Building and Roof East in Stratford – and both venues guarantee you iconic city views of the capital. If you can get here for sunset, you can enjoy panoramic views, delicious drinks, and tasty street food before settling down for your film.
There’s nothing worse than not being able to hear a film properly because you’re outside, but because Rooftop Film Club provide you with state-of-the-art wireless headphones, you’re guaranteed to catch every bit of dialogue, and can really immerse yourself in the story without being distracted by the outside world.
From cult classics to brand new releases, there’s a film choice for everyone here: over the next coming months, Rooftop Film Club will be showing The Batman, Cocktail, Leon, The Big Lebowski, Jerry Maguire, The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Con Air, and Belfast – which should give you some idea of how diverse the screenings are!
3. Moonlight Flicks, various locations across Cheshire
If you live in or near Cheshire, you’ll be pleased to know that there are four excellent open-air cinemas to choose from. Moonlight Flicks has venues in Wirral, Chester, Nantwich, and Knutsford – and with a 30ft AirScreen, high-quality headphones, twinkling fairy lights, and flickering fire pits, this promises to be a seriously ambient night.
Food and drinks are available to buy, with hot food options and a full bar. Menus vary from location; at Knutsford, you can enjoy veggie lentil nachos or lamb shawarma, at Nantwich it’s the famous Snugburys ice cream, in Chester it’s pork or vegan hotdogs, and in Wirral, it’s pizza and nachos – so you can always follow your tastebuds!
Screenings this summer include classics like Sister Act, Pulp Fiction, and Stand By Me, rom-coms like Pretty Woman and When Harry Met Sally, musicals like Singing In the Rain and Mamma Mia!, and modern movies like House of Gucci and Cruella. The only thing you’ll need to factor in is the weather!
4. Summer Screens, various locations across England
Summer Screens has been one of the most popular open-air cinemas in the country since 2011, so it should come as no surprise that in 2022 it boasts 15 venues, all in beautiful and unique settings – from country house lawns to the ruins of a medieval cathedral.
If you’re located in South or Central England, you’re hopefully not too far from a Summer Screens cinema; venues include Reading, Winchester, Birmingham, Coventry, Southampton, Poole, Surrey, and Greater London.
There’s an eclectic mix of movies showing this summer: if you fancy curling up in front of a classic, you can watch Titanic, Boogie Nights, E.T., Good Will Hunting, and Jurassic Park. Or, if you’d rather watch a new film, why not catch No Time To Die, King Richard, or Dune?
Whichever film you choose to see, you can be sure of a truly unique cinematic experience, with state-of-the-art audio and exceptional 2K digital projection. If you want refreshments, you can choose from the fully stocked bar, and feast upon artisan hot dogs, gourmet popcorn, and all the classic pick ‘n’ mix sweets.
5. Adventure Cinema, various locations across the UK
This summer, the UK’s largest touring outdoor cinema is back – and it’s also bigger than ever! With over 70 stunning locations across the UK, there’s a good chance you’re only a drive away from one of Adventure Cinema’s screenings.
The list of venue locations is long and diverse, though each setting is uniquely beautiful. Some of the best venues include Dalkeith Country Park in Edinburgh, Caldicot Castle in Monmouthshire, Hedingham Castle in Essex, Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire, and Saltwell Park in Gateshead.
As for the films themselves, expect even more variety! This summer Adventure Cinema will be celebrating 50 years of ABBA with Mamma Mia! and Elton John’s 75th birthday with Rocketman, as well as showing other classics like Grease, The Greatest Showman, Dirty Dancing, Pulp Fiction, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park.
Unlike many other outdoor cinemas, you’re allowed to bring your own picnic and snacks to all Adventure Cinema venues, though most locations also have a bar and provide food, snacks and soft drinks. VIP deck chairs are available to rent, though most people prefer to pack their own camping chairs and picnic blankets!
6. Picnic in the Park, various locations
If you want to see a film outside but also wouldn’t mind experiencing a bit of a festival vibe, then why not go to one of Picnic in the Park’s Film Festival events? So much more than an open-air cinema, these events include pre-film concerts by local musicians, an extensive choice of food and drink, and even game nights and fancy-dress parties.
Throughout the summer months, there’ll be Film Festivals in Warwick, Peterborough, Northampton, Norwich, Hereford, Derby, Shrewsbury, Exeter, Carmarthenshire, Cheltenham, and Stafford – and the locations themselves are often beautiful and intriguing (e.g. the Northampton venue is in the 12th-century Delapré Abbey).
If you just fancy a chilled film night outside, then there are also outdoor cinema experiences without the festival fee; screenings will be in Birmingham on Friday 10th June, Market Rasen on Saturday 11th June, Doncaster on Friday 24th June, and Thirsk on Friday 15th July.
Films showing this summer include classics like Bohemian Rhapsody, The Lion King, Encanto, The Greatest Showman, Dirty Dancing, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
7. The Alfresco Film Company, various UK locations
If you’re a big fan of musicals and singalongs, then the Alfresco Film Company might be the open-air cinema for you. With locations in Gloucester, Cirencester, Worcestershire, Derbyshire, the Cotswolds, Cheltenham, and Stafford, what all the venues have in common is beauty and atmosphere.
From musical classics like Grease, Moulin Rouge! and Dirty Dancing to more modern musicals like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, there’s a very good chance you’ll find yourself singing along (or at least tapping your toes) to many of the films showing this summer.
However, if musicals aren’t your bag, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an Alfresco Film Company movie night, as this summer they’re also showing films including No Time To Die, Hot Fuzz, Back to the Future, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Most venues offer a great range of food and drink, from local street food companies to gourmet cinema snacks, and you can also bring your own food along. Premium tickets provide you with cosy deckchairs and blankets, but you can bring your own camping chairs and blankets if you prefer.
8. Summer Knights, Lancashire
One of the most unique open-air cinema events is in Chorley, Lancashire. The abandoned Camelot Theme Park has become the new home of Summer Knights – a drive-in film event that has a summer night for everyone, whatever their age or film preferences.
Nights this summer are themed: cult nights show films like True Romance, Fight Club, and Kill Bill, fright night shows horror movies like Insidious, The Grudge, and The Nun, and singalong night showcases classic musicals like Grease, Mamma Mia! 1 and 2, and Pitch Perfect.
If you’re spending time with children, you might want to take them to a family night, where you can watch kid-friendly classics like The Greatest Showman, Encanto, and Sing! 1 and 2. There’s also a date night theme, where you can watch films like House of Gucci and The King’s Man.
With a thirst-quenching bar serving cold drinks and alcohol, and delicious food vendors to stop you from feeling peckish, this is a feel-good film event for the whole family. Plus, the setting – in the mythical land of Camelot – just makes it that bit more special.
Whether you’re into musicals or horrors, are looking for an unusual date night or a fun way to entertain your grandkids, watching a classic film outside will always feel special. With so many screenings and venues across the UK, hopefully, it shouldn’t be too hard for most of us to experience the magic of open-air theatre this summer.
Aside from the wealth of excellent films on offer, there are also incredibly beautiful and diverse locations too. During the day, you can bask under the sun in the gorgeous gardens of a stately home, or in the evening, you can curl up under a blanket beside an atmospheric castle or abbey, and watch a film under the stars.