Who said film days have to be confined to winter, snuggled under duvets clutching a hot chocolate? Not us! Especially not when London’s opened its parks, courtyards, palaces, beer gardens and lidos to embrace the open air-cinema phenomenon.
You’ll find screens, beanbags and lawns dotted across the various boroughs of the capital, all perfect for laying down your picnic blanket and enjoying a film. Better still, many of these locations are easy to reach from your centrally located Grand Park Hotel Paddington base. It’s a delightful way to spend an evening whilst you’re in the city as the summer sun dips and the stars come out, cocktail or glass of wine in hand.
We’ve compiled a list of nine open-air cinemas that are worth checking out this summer. Browse the cinema’s listings and decide whether you’d like to re-watch an old favourite or catch a new release that you missed at the cinema.
With that said, snap your laptop shut in your Bayswater Hotel London, tell Netflix you’ll catch up in autumn and head for one of the below. But, be advised, the screenings are extremely popular, so book early to secure your space.
Lights, camera, action!
Movies on the River (now – 3 August, tickets from £29)
If cruising down the River Thames watching Bohemian Rhapsody (for the fourth time) under the stars floats your boat, then book tickets for Movies on the River, London’s only floating cinema. Settle into your seat on the top deck and watch the sunset over London as you cruise the longest river in England. This year’s film options include Top Gun, Grease and Dirty Dancing.
Screenings run Tuesday – Saturday, embarking from Tower Pier at 8 PM.
Summer by the River (now – 27 August, free)
You’ll find Summer by the River screenings in London Bridge City – a pedestrianised scoop of land between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. They have a whole programme of summery events, including open-air film screenings, which are free to attend, meaning you can swing by and dip in for a rest as you sightsee around the area.
The Nomad (now – 7 September, tickets from £13.50)
The Nomad is a non-profit open-air cinema organisation. All the money generated by ticket sales goes straight to a South African environmental and educational charity, The Sustainability Institute.
Catch Bohemian Rhapsody at Queen’s Park on 7 September for a quick commute home to the Grand Park Hotel Paddington.
The Luna Cinema (now – 26 September, tickets from £16.50)
Nationwide touring cinema Luna have the monopoly on magical, romantic movie-watching locations such as palaces and Royal parks, including Chiswick House and Gardens and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. This year they’ve added Brockwell Lido to the mix, so you can bob around on a pool inflatable and watch Aquaman or Hook. Definitely one for Date Night.
Luna Cinema runs a brief children’s programme, too. This summer, it runs from 14 – 18 August at Hampton Court Palace with a line up sure to entertain the whole family, including the new live-action remakes of Disney’s Dumbo and Aladdin, along with animated hits How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Pixar’s The Incredibles 2.
Rooftop Film Club (now – late September, tickets from £15.95)
The Rooftop Film Club run screenings in Peckham, Shoreditch and Stratford. And yes, as it says on the tin – these cinemas are perched upon rooftops so you can enjoy urban panoramas of skyscrapers lit by stars whilst dipping into a cult classic.
Down in Peckham, you’ll be on the roof of an old warehouse, the Bussey Building, a popular hangout for Londoners during summer. Films include The Grand Budapest Hotel, Up and Fight Club. The Shoreditch venue is the roof garden of the Queen of Hoxton, nestled amongst highrises of The City. Out in Stratford, you’ll be lounging atop a former car park which features recycled materials from the Olympic Park!
All three locations include wireless headphones which guarantee impeccable sound quality so you don’t miss a single line – one for real film fanatics.
Backyard Cinema (18 July – 28 July, tickets from £9.50)
Hang out at a sand-filled beach bar and sip a cocktail as the credits roll, and easily forget you’re in London. This year’s Backyard Cinema is themed on ‘LA Nights’ and its beach party set is located at the Roundhouse in Camden. Metro call it ‘London’s quirkiest screening.’ Sing-a-long with The Greatest Showman or Grease, or watch A Star is Born from beneath a palm tree.
Pop Up Screens (Friday 19 July – Sunday 29 September, tickets from £12.50)
If you missed Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, catch it on a giant screen at one of the many inflatable screens gracing London across the city. Singing along is optional, but you’ll find yourself tapping along. From your Bayswater Hotel London, the Fulham, Hammersmith and Holborn Pop Up Screen venues are your closest option or venture further afield to the likes of Greenwich or Kingston and make it into a day trip.
Leicester Square Summer Screenings (8 August – 11 August, free)
We can’t promise that a red carpet will await you at the open-air cinema setting which also hosts UK film premieres, but you will find a cheerful and family-friendly schedule of films. On the books for this summer is Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Moana and Jurassic Park. Get there early to nab a beanbag or take your picnic rug. Another option where all films are free!
Film4 Summer Screen (8 – 21 August, tickets from £18)
The largest (and one of the grandest) offerings on the open-air cinema table is Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House. Relax with a picnic-style seat, snag a beanbag or kick back in a Director’s Chair spot and soak up views of the beautiful courtyard setting. The films vary from The Matrix to the UK premiere of Inna de Yard and a double bill of Before Sunrise and After Sunset. Each screening opens with a live DJ set based on the film’s soundtrack.
Rest assured…you’ll be dancing back to your Bayswater Hotel.