Many people save a trip to the cinema for a rainy day but with so many incredible outdoor cinemas popping up around the UK, there’s no reason why you can’t combine warmer weather with movie night. There's nothing quite like sitting down with a bottle of wine and a blanket, enjoying a gentle breeze and the sounds of the city, while watching a classic film as the sun goes down. Whether you head to a relaxed bring-your-own-picnic style outdoor cinema or an organised and themed affair, watching a movie by moonlight is a truly memorable experience. Discover the best alfresco cinema with our round-up of the coolest venues and flicks to see this summer. From rooftops to cathedrals to former prisons, these are the outdoor cinemas you won't want to miss.
There's nothing quite like sitting down with bottle of wine and blanket, enjoying a gentle breeze and the sounds of the city, while watching a classic film as the sun goes down
London’s Rooftop Film Club has five outdoor venues to choose from, each one as thrilling as the next. But be warned – whether you catch a flick at the Bussey Building in Peckham Rye, the Queen of Hoxton pub in Shoreditch, the Roof Gardens in Kensington, Roof East in Stratford, or the Tobacco Dock in Shadwell, you might find it hard to focus on the film with the amazing cityscape in the background. Most venues feature summer festive deck chairs for seating, and all have plenty of food and drinks to enjoy on site.
Oxford Castle, Oxfordshire
Fancy something completely different? How about watching a film in a former prison? Catch the critically acclaimed drama Shawshank Redemption in the exercise yard of Oxford Castle on September 16. Or if you want the same atmosphere but with a more easy going flick, Top Gun and Grease are also showing in September. Run by Cult Screens, get comfortable in directors chairs, cushions or bean bags with pitcher cocktails, craft beers and street food stalls at each venue.
For a truly special evening, visit the beautiful Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh where Luna Cinema are showing Star Wars, Romeo + Juliet and Jurassic Park this September. Amongst so much lush greenery just a stone's throw from the city centre, this is open air cinema for romantics and nature lovers.
Muncaster Castle, Cumbria
For a themed movie night in a stunning locale, check out Picnic Cinema’s at the historic Muncaster Castle this August. This summer’s films include Labyrinth (dress code is “Goblins, 80s hair, fantastical eye make up, red-striped baby grows”) and Rocky Horror Picture Show (“suspenders, high heels, gold speedos, top hats, leather”). Go for the full movie experience (although the views of the Lake District aren't bad either).
St Austell, Cornwall
Hang out at the beach all day and night with Skyscape Cinema screenings in Carlyon Beach, near St Austell in Cornwall. Here in August you can catch the – very appropriate – Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and Jaws. Don't worry, there's no risk of running into pirates or sharks while you're relaxing on a deckchair or blanket.
Paddock Wood, Kent
Do outdoor movies American style with the UK’s largest drive-in cinema at The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, Kent. Park up, get comfortable, order yourself a burger and a soft drink and tune in to the radio for film sound – just like in the movies! This summer’s films include The Secret Life of Pets and The Jungle Book. See moonlightcinema.com for more info.
Cosying up on a blanket in the beautiful courtyard of Somerset House, you’ll almost forget that you’re in the nation’s capital. This summer there’s something for every movie goer with feature films like Ex Machina, 10 Things I Hate About You, Jackie Brown, Funny Face and Trainspotting. Movie buffs will want to be on the look out for on-stage introductions from stars at special screenings.
Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire
Benedict Cumberbatch fans take note! The Victorian mansion where British codebreakers cracked the German Enigma during WWII is screening Oscar-winning biopic The Imitation Game this September. Many of the film’s scenes were shot at Bletchley Park and guests are invited to dress in 1940s style clothing. See bletchleypark.org.uk
Enjoy a movie night underneath the stars in the ruins of roofless Coventry Cathedral. Cult Screens are taking over this towering venue for the summer, showing plenty of retro classics like The Goonies, Grease and Back to the Future.
Want to host your own movie night? Pick up a movie, popcorn and drinks at Asda.