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Open Air Cinema

12th April 2019

Open-air cinema has been around for almost as long as standard cinemas themselves. The Lumière brothers are widely seen as being the first to produce cinematographic motion pictures in 1895. Less than 20 years later, the first outdoor cinemas cropped up in Australia. Established in 1916, Australia’s Sun Pictures holds the accolade of the World’s Oldest Outdoor Picture Garden. The outdoor cinema trend continued through the ages, with the drive-in cinema boom starting in the USA in the 1930s and subsequently being transported across the world.

In the last decade, open-air cinema has experienced something of a resurgence, and with London’s vast green spaces and history-filled locales, our great city has been leading the way. Between late spring and early autumn, open-air film screenings can be found in green spaces and outside historical buildings in almost every neighbourhood in London.

Open Air Cinema

A key reason for this comes down to technology. In the first instance, technological innovation means outdoor screens are higher tech with ever-improving picture quality, meaning changing factors such as sunlight have less impact on the audience’s viewing pleasure.

However, it’s also the prevalence of technology in our everyday lives that is making Londoners seek a sense of community when watching a film. Mobile phones, tablets, live streaming and internet television makes watching films an often insular experience in this day and age. Yet there’s nothing quite like watching a film with a crowd of people and becoming part of something together for a while.

Instead of a trend that has come and gone, that might explain why open-air cinema is going from strength-to-strength. Britain’s largest outdoor cinema provider, Luna Cinema, even says that ticket sales have trebled over the last years.

Luna cinema

Here are some of the best open-air cinema showings coming up in London:

  • Visit the Open House between 9-11 July 2019 in Hyde Park to celebrate British Summer Time festival. The weekdays events include music gigs and open-air film screenings
  • The stunning grounds of Somerset House will host a number of Film4 Summer Screenings during August. The 2019 line-up includes the phenomenal Black Panther, Clueless, God’s Own Country and This is England
  • For a totally immersive outdoor cinema experience, The Luna Cinema in Deans Yard, Westminster, provides the ultimate backdrop for some truly unforgettable nights of cinema under the stars


Open Air Cinema
  • Easily accessible from The Athenaeum, The Kensington Palace will have its outdoor screen up for 30-31 July and 1-2 August. Movies include The Young Victoria and Mary Poppins
  • To watch Crazy Rich Asians and The Devil Wears Prada, head over to Victoria Embankment Gardens between 30-31 July, and on 6-7 August
  • Just across Green Park, Westminster Abbey will screen A Star Is Born, Some Like It Hot and Shakespeare In Love between 13-15 August
  • Towards the end of the month, on 20-21 August, Victoria Tower Gardens will have its screening with the movie Bohemian Rhapsody
Regents Park Open Air
  • If you like a secret location, check out The Secret Cinema, where an evening of suspense and spectacle around this years’ chosen movie Casino Royale will come to life. This takes place between 5 June – 22nd September
  • Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, offers an experience like no other, where live performances of Our Town will run from 16 May- 08 June, Hansel and Gretel 14–22 June, A Midsummer Night Dream 28 June–27 July, and Evita 2 August–21 September

London’s outdoor cinema events tend to have a selection of street food and popcorn to make the cinema experience complete. Or order one of our picnic hampers at The Athenaeum for some indulgent treats perfect for enjoying at the movies al fresco.

Soak up the feeling of being in the great outdoors in the heart of London this summer and autumn!


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