We all know that nothing beats catching a cult classic or hotly-anticipated new release on the big screen – except, maybe, when that big screen also happens to be an outdoor cinema. There’s something deeply romantic about watching your favourite film al fresco, as you catch the last of the sun’s rays before they’re replaced by twinkling stars. From rooftop wonders to bucolic gems, these are the outdoor film screenings in London not to miss this summer.
The Best Outdoor Cinemas in London
Barbican Outdoor Cinema
23 August – 3 September
The Barbican Outdoor Cinema season comprises 10 days of film screenings that promise to be full of fantasy, adventure and spectacular environments – but as this is the Barbican, they’re also going to make you think. Held in their outdoor Sculpture Court, which offers up fantastic views of the neighbouring skyscrapers, highlights include screenings of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, Studio Ghibli’s Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind and, for the finale, Singin’ in the Rain (hopefully not accompanied by an actual downpour).
The Luna Cinema
Until 24 September
Luna Cinema’s outdoor cinema screenings are known for being held in some of the most spectacular locations across the UK, with its state-of-the-art screens found at the likes of Blenheim Palace, Longleat and Sandringham. Its London locations are no less impressive, with residencies at Westminster Abbey (25-30 July), Hampton Court Palace (3-6 August) and Kensington Palace (9-13 August) this summer (to name just a few). Whether you’re feeling the nostalgia of Grease or reliving the romance of Romeo + Juliet, it’s sure to be an evening to remember set against backdrops such as these.
Everyman Screen on the Canal
Until 6 August
The Everyman’s hugely popular open-air film festival returns to Granary Square at King’s Cross this summer, which means you’ll be able to watch films for free on one of the capital’s biggest outdoor screens. Take in the live action at Everyman Screen on the Canal from Wimbledon and the Tour de France as well as enjoying the movie magic of classic and feel-good favourites including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Devil Wears Prada, La La Land and Top Gun: Maverick – there’s something here for everyone.
Kew The Movies
30 August – 3 September
What could be more sublime than watching a film as the sun sets on Kew Gardens? That’s the promise Kew The Movies made when it began in 2012, and it’s been serving up popcorn, Pimm’s and (motion) pictures ever since. This year’s event includes a roster of stellar films, including recent releases such as Everything Everywhere All At Once and Avatar: The Way of Water, alongside family favourites in the form of Frozen and Paddington. Plenty of snacks are available, and bringing along a picnic is positively encouraged too.
Sunset Screening Sessions
Until 29 August
This partnership between Infinita Productions and DMovies is a thoroughly British affair, offering up ten films that have had a profound effect on this country’s cinematic offering. Held in the beautiful walled patio of the Homestead Café in Beckenham Place Park, the programme features a culturally vibrant selections of films, including comedy, LGBTQ and arthouse cinema. Held every Friday and Saturday, our top Sunset Screening Sessions picks are Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane on 21 July and Sarah Gavron’s tender adaptation of Brick Lane on 22 July.
Pop Up Screens
21 July – 24 September
Take a tour of London this summer courtesy of the team behind Pop Up Screens, which is bringing its open-air cinema experience to a host of locations in the capital this season. From Hammersmith to Hither Green, there’s plenty of opportunities to catch one of your favourite films under the stars. The packed calendar is full of feel-good movies including Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman, ensuring that every taste is catered for.
Until 20 August
Billing itself as “the UK’s biggest open air cinema tour”, Adventure Cinema is popping up at venues all over the country this summer, including stately homes in Hampshire and Medieval castles in Monmouthshire. In London, you can catch them in the grounds of 17th-century Jacobean Charlton House, National Trust property Ham House and Grade I-listed Osterley House. With a mix of newer releases and old favourites, it’s guaranteed to be a fun night out whatever you see.
14 – 24 July
Vision Cinema has two sites in Woolwich and Newham and aims to elevate the outdoor film screening experience, with their signature blow up chairs (known for being the comfiest seats around), noise-cancelling wireless headphones and heated blankets for hire, if the weather turns a little chilly. There’s a wide range of films on offer, from old favourites like There’s Something About Mary and The Greatest Showman, to newer releases like Cocaine Bear and John Wick: Chapter 4.