10 outdoor cinemas to book now
So long, tiny TV screen; hello, massive outdoor cinema with classic films, sing-a-long action and boozy picnics to boot. Here are the best in Berkshire.
A gift from the ‘going out’ gods that involves three of my favourite unholy activities – watching a show, lounging outside and getting tipsy are all available in one delicious bundle. Don’t miss your summer 2021 movie marathon, with a steady stream of outdoor cinema nights in Berkshire and beyond.
Flix Drive In Sit Out Cinema, Madjeski Stadium Reading, 1-6 Jun
Outdoor cinema fun whatever the weather! Put that pac-a-mac away, laydee, book in at Berkshire’s first Drive in Sit Out cinema which allows you to watch the latest Hollywood films come rain, shine or hail storms. Buckle up and drive in where you’ll be designated your very own socially distanced seating area. Eyes peeled for The Little Things, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Wonder Women 1984 and Oscar Winner Judas and The Black Messiah as well as family faves Tom & Jerry, Scoob! and Roald Dahl’s The Witches. You can even street food and drinks to be delivered to your zone. Best of all worlds right there. There will be three screenings a day at each venue, with tickets per car (up to six people) costing just £35.
Strawberry Moon Cinemas, Windsor Racecourse
The weather’s been pants, but let’s be honest, it can only get better. If you don’t want to chance rain stopping your play, book in at Strawberry Moon’s Drive In Cinema at Windsor Racecourse. Park up, order tasty posh pizza, ice cream and snacks via the app, sit back and enjoy. You’re given a good quality bluetooth speaker, just make sure you crank your window to avoid steaming up. On the movie reel right now? Tom & Jerry The Movie, Dirty Dancing, Dream Horse, Godzilla V Kong and The Witches. Keep an eye out for Cruella, Peter Rabbit 2, Marvel’s new flick Black Widow, the new Bond No Time To Die and more.
Luna Cinema, Ascot Racecourse, 16-18 Jul
Giddy up to Ascot for four nights of fabulous feel-goof films under the stars. The giant cinema screen will be positioned on the Old Paddock of the racecourse with this stunning backdrop of the grandstand. The Luna Bar will be fully stocked (good job with the expected Muddy stampede, and there will be food to soak it all up). What’s being screened? Choose from Rocketman (15 Jul), Dirty Dancing (16 Jul), The Greatest Showman Sing-A-Long (17 Jul) and Pretty Woman (18 Jul). Tickets £17.
Abbey Ruins, Reading
Surrounded by the urban sprawl of Reading you’ll find the Abbey Ruins. Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I and later destroyed by Henry VIII. Today it’s popular perfect picnic spot and provides a dramatic backdrop for outdoor theatre shows and cinema screenings. The films being shown are as iconic as the setting. First up, the super-cool True Romance (27 May) – written by but not directed by Tarantino. Followed by Baz Luhrmann’s stylish retelling of Romeo + Juliet (28 May) and Oscar winning musical, La La Land (29 May). Then things get darker with The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s last film before he died (21 Aug) and An American Werewolf In London (22 Aug). A selection of cinema drinks and snacks will be available. Doors open at 7.30pm, film starts at 9pm.
Caversham Court Gardens, Reading
Caversham Courts Gardens is an under-rated riverside park and now it has the Summer Screens cinema too. Balmy evening staring at the big screen? Race you. There are eight films on Caversham movie reel kicking off in June with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (24 Jun); The Grand Budapest Hotel (25 Jun) and Mamma Mia! (26 Jun). The outdoor cinema returns in July with a retro line up: The Breakfast Club ( 22 Jul); Grease (23 Jul) and Thelma & Louise (24 Jul). You last chance to snag your spot will 17 and 18 Sep, but the films are TBC. A selection of cinema drinks and snacks will be available. Doors open at 7.30pm, film starts at 9pm.
Shaw House, Newbury, 26-27 Aug
Shaw House is a swoony Grade I listed manor house just outside Newbury that’ll be laying on not one but two musical movies this summer. So take your pick: The rabble-rousing Hollywood epic, Les Miserables (26 Aug) starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. Orrrrrr frothy feel-good high school romance, Grease (27 Aug). Definitely one for summer niiiiiiiiights. Doors open at 6.30pm, film starts 8.15pm.
Dinton Pastures Country Park, Wokingham, 30 Jul – 28 Aug
Definitely not a film for make-up tips, but Heath Ledger’s demented Joker in The Dark Knight is one of his finest. It was Heath’s penultimate film, released months after his death, and won him a posthumous Oscar. Who was Batman? Oh, some fella called Christian Bale, but Heath totally steals the show. Grab your picnic blanket and see it this summer at Dinton Pastures on 13 Aug. Not your bag? They’re also showing Back To The Future (30 Jul), Dirty Dancing (31 Jul) and The Greatest Showman (14 Aug); 10 Things I Hate About You and Mean Girls (both 27 Aug) and Grease (28 Aug). Bit of a festival vibe at this one, with music, street food and drink stands.
Cobbs Farm Hungerford, 17 Jul and 11 Sep
Cobbs Farm’s blissfully rural location is a lush spot for outdoor cinema cinema action. For now you’ll have to play Guess The Movie, because it’s all TBC. But I can promise you a legendary Cobbs barbecue menu. All the delicious drinks snacks, ice-cream, and popcorn you can consume or BYO. Doors open 7pm, film starts at 9.15pm.
Luna Cinema, Blenheim Palace
Luna Cinema is, arguably, the big daddy of outdoor cinema and the venues reflect its status. The Luna juggernaut is decamping at Blenheim Palace for four nights and packing in four films while it’s there: Star Wars: A New Hope (12 Aug), Bohemian Rhapsody (13 Aug), The Greatest Showman (14 Aug) and Some Like it Hot (15 Aug). There will be a Luna Bar on site and food will be available from as-yet-undisclosed gourmet suppliers. You are welcome to bring your own, of course, but no glass bottles or drinking vessels are allowed on site. Tickets are from £17.50: buy them here. Based in Bucks? Luna Cinema will also be heading to Waddesdon Manor 9 – 12 Sept.
Luna Cinema, Waddesdon Manor
Essentially, the same deal but different location, different dates (and *mostly* different films). Knives Out (9 Sept), Pretty Woman (10 Sept), Grease (11 Sept) and Star Wars: A New Hope (12 Sept) are the four excellent choices available. Food and drink is as above and parking is free and onsite, although the bus will not be running so be prepared to schlep your picnic basket and blankets up and down the hill to the house. Tickets from £16.