While this summer’s events calendar may not be quite what you’d expect, with no jam-packed concerts or sun-soaked festivals on the horizon, London’s leading cultural masterminds have been forced to get creative, coming up with new and inventive ways to experience the joy of cinema or take in some live music on a warm summer’s evening. From drive-in cinemas to socially distanced stand-up and outdoor concerts, there’s still plenty on offer across the capital and around the UK – we’ve rounded up 10 of the best.
The Luna Drive In Cinema
Luna Cinema’s outdoor screenings are known for being held in some of the most spectacular locations across the UK and their drive-in versions are no different, with the grounds of Blenheim Palace and Knebworth House being taking over to screen their roster of films. In London you can head to Allianz Park or east London’s Printworks to watch their high definition, state-of-the-art outdoor screens, which will be showing critically acclaimed films like Oscar winners Parasite and Joker, as well as feel-good sing-along versions of Rocketman and Grease. And if you fancy a snack, you can order it from your phone and have a staff member on roller skates deliver it contact-free to the bonnet of your car.
From 4 July
Glyndebourne’s Open-Air Concerts
While Glyndebourne Festival was forced to close this summer and pivot instead to hosting a virtual option, Glyndebourne Open House, they have announced that they will be holding live open-air musical performances in their beautiful gardens from July onwards. First up will be the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, who will be putting on spellbinding concerts throughout July, while during August, visitors will be treated to shows from the London Philharmonic Orchestra – as the season progresses, there are plans to stage an opera in the open air for the first time. Bring a lavish picnic, don your finest attire (the black tie dress code is optional, but most people stick to it) and settle in for an enchanting evening.
From 1 July
The Drive-In Club
London’s first drive-in comedy theatre will be popping up in Dagenham and Brent Cross this summer, with a stellar line-up that includes shows from Bill Bailey, Shappi Khorsandi and Jason Manford. Alongside their stand-up nights they’ll also be hosting outdoor film screenings of blockbusters like Black Panther and Captain Marvel, as well as kids’ shows from Rastamouse and Basil Brush and DJ sets from the likes of Edith Bowman. What’s more, they’ll be supporting NHS heroes by allocating a number of free tickets for every show for NHS workers.
From 3 July – 9 August
Rooftop Film Club Drive-In
One of London’s most popular al-fresco cinema brands, known for their booze-filled screenings on iconic rooftops across the city, is taking over the car park at Alexandra Palace to host a series of contact-free drive-in cinema experiences. Cult classics including The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and the ultra-stylish Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be shown on their 40-foot outdoor screen, with audio broadcast through the FM transmitter radio in your car, while Popdogs will be serving up their plant-based hot dogs for hungry viewers. Twenty tickets per screening will be reserved for NHS workers, and all proceeds from one screening per month will be donated directly to anti-racism charities.
From 4 July
The Drive In London
Drawing on the nostalgia of the retro American drive-through movie theatre, The Drive In is looking to conjure up the golden age of Hollywood through its outdoor film experience. Held at the Troubadour Meridian Water in North London, drive-in attendants dressed in 1950s outfits will be on hand to deliver suitably all-American cinema snacks, from burgers and hot dogs to French fries, as you settle down to watch old favourites and kids’ classics like The Goonies, Back to the Future and Blade Runner. Alongside film screenings they’ll also be hosting regular comedy nights and concerts, with 10 free tickets for every show being reserved for NHS staff.
From 4 July
Secret Cinema Drive-In
One of the original players on the immersive experience scene, Secret Cinema has reinvented their cult film-inspired nights out for Covid-19 times. Taking over the grounds of smart West Sussex estate Goodwood, they’ll be screening a mix of classic favourites like Reservoir Dogs and Pretty Woman alongside newer releases including Mary Poppins Returns and last winter’s hit Knives Out. And because this is Secret Cinema, you can expect something a little different from your average film screening – think live action sequences, choreographed dances and sing-alongs.
From 5 July
At the Drive In
Hosted with Suzuki, At The Drive In will be touring cities across the UK, including Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, with its drive-in movie theatres, as well as putting on stand-up comedy shows, bingo nights and silent car discos. In London you can experience their retro-inspired nights at Circus Field in Blackheath and a yet-to-be-announced east London location, complete with Americana-themed snacks and drinks delivered by roller waiters. For every show, they’re keeping aside 10 free tickets as a way of thanking NHS staff for their part in the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.
From 6 July – 4 October
Pub in the Park’s Drive and Dine Theatre
Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge has turned his popular Pub in the Park event, the UK’s biggest food and drink tour, into a drive-in theatre experience with a foodie twist. Held at Syon Park and Selhurst Park Stadium in London and at locations across the UK including Hever Castle and Luton Hoo Estate, they’ll be screening a range of Eighties flicks and action epics like Jaws and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as well as Carpool Comedy Club shows from Dara O’Briain, Sara Pascoe and Ed Byrne. And as you’d expect, each show will be accompanied by an exclusive menu designed by Kerridge, featuring gourmet picnic boxes and an elevated take on a cheeseburger.
From 7 July – 2 August
Live From the Drive-In
Live Nation have teamed up with energy providers Utilita on this series of live drive-in concerts, which will see some of the biggest names in UK music perform on stage, backed by a full concert production. The shows will take place at 12 venues across the UK, including Cheltenham Racecourse and the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, as well as a still-to-be-announced venue in London, where performers will include classical musicians Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason (you’ll recognise cellist Sheku from his performance at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding) on 8 August and acoustic singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti on 13 September.
From 17 July
ENO Drive & Live
Opera is getting a thoroughly modern update thanks to this new experience from the English National Opera, who have created one of the first drive-in opera shows. Held in the grounds of Alexandra Palace, the programme will feature 12 performances of a 90-minute shortened version of La Bohème and a one-hour family-friendly version of The Magic Flute, broadcast via Bluetooth speakers with live singers and musicians spaced out in accordance with government guidelines. And as a nod to their heroic efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve announced that the first performance will be free for NHS and frontline workers.
From 19-27 September