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The best outdoor cinemas this summer

There’s something undeniably romantic about watching a movie outdoors under the stars. You only have to watch the scene between Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner to realise that watching a film outdoors is a must-do summer experience. Here are some of the best, and most unusual, places to see a movie in the Great Outdoors, from woodland to historic houses and even cemeteries…


Grantchester Meadows

Screenings at Grantchester Meadows on super-sized screens next to the River Granta are wonderfully atmospheric. The lights from the screens reflect in the water while stars twinkle overhead. Take your picnic blanket, your favourite nibbles and some chilled Champagne. This year’s event takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend on August 29 and 31. Around 1500 people usually attend the screenings, making them some of the most popular in the country.

Somerset House

Film4’s summer screening at Somerset is back in August for a fortnight of films from August 6 featuring everything from the classic to the contemporary. The setting is simply spectacular, with the audience sitting in the gorgeous courtyard at Somerset House. Remember to take a cushion with you because you won’t want to sit on the hard cobbles for the full length of the movie.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is beautiful at any time of the year whether there is film screening taking place or not. But the annual open air cinema is an extra reason to visit. The giant screen is set up in lush surroundings in front of Kew Palace. The event was voted one of London’s most romantic date destinations and, this year, is showing one of the world’s most romantic movies. Casablanca will be screening on September 3, but if you prefer something more light-hearted to sing-a-long to, you could try Mamma Mia on September 4.

Wollaton Hall

Nobody puts Baby in a corner! Dirty Dancing will be shown in the gorgeous grounds of the Wollaton Hall Elizabethan country house in Nottingham on August 28. But, if you prefer a bit of comedy, you could opt for Alan Partridge Alpha Papa the following evening, or if you like action there’s The Dark Knight Rises on August 30. It’s just one of the venues where the Summer Nights festival is taking place.

The Roof Gardens

Kensington’s The Roof Gardens is one of the world’s most famous drinking and dining destinations. But, it also plays host to a regular rooftop film club. It’s part of a series of events run by Rooftop Film Club, which also shows movies at London’s Queen of Hoxton and the Bussey Building.

The best outdoor cinemas UKHot Tub Cinema

It’s one of the more unusual ways we’ve heard of to watch a film; in an inflatable hot tub for six, surrounded by other people in hot tubs all watching a movie on a giant screen. Tub Tropicana usually holds screenings in London, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham, as well as in Ibiza. It’s due to announce its event programme very soon.

Alexandra Palace

Ever since we watched Grease, we’ve longed to go to a drive-in, just like Rizzo, Danny and the gang. There’s a Drive-in Film Club at London’s Alexandra Palace. You park in the Pavillion car park, making sure you arrive early to grab a good spot, and popcorn and hot dogs are delivered by roller skaters straight to your car. This year’s movies include a Grease sing-a-long, the weepie Notebook and raunchfest 50 Shades of Grey. Now all we need is a classic Ford convertible!

Trafalgar Square

If you like your entertainment classic and you want to sit in one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations, Trafalgar Square is the venue to choose. This year, three of the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet’s most powerful productions are being broadcast in the square, including La boheme, Don Giovanni and Romeo and Juliet. And, best of all, it’s all for free. Just bring your friends or family, a picnic blanket, and enjoy!

Hamsterley Forest

If you want to scare yourself silly, how about watching a horror movie in the heart of a forest. Presented by Picnic Cinema, which specialises in cult and horror classics served up in atmospheric locations, The Evil Dead is being shown in Hamsterley Forest, County Durham. If you want to stay overnight, you can even bring your tent. Psycho at Muncaster Castle in Carlisle promises to be an equally eerie night.

Brompton Cemetery

Another creepy film night is being held at Brompton Cemetery, the final resting place for more than 200,000 people. Movies being shown among the colonnades and catacombs this year are Alien and the dark, adult fairytale Pan’s Labyrinth. Whether you love romantic comedy, prefer a cult classic, or want to experience horror in a scary setting, there’s an outdoor film screening for you.

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