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11 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 Bucks, Oxon and beyond.

Chipping Norton Theatre Open Air Cinema

Chippy’s brilliant local theatre has teamed up with venues across Oxon, including picturesque Broughton Castle (pictured), Heath Farm and Chipping Norton Rugby Club for a series of outdoor film nights with foodie options on site. You’ll need to bring a blanket or a deck chair to perch on. Take your pick from Romeo & Juliet (30 May), Moulin Rouge (31 May), Back to the Future (1 Jun), Rocketman (3 Jun), The Greatest Showman (4 Jun), Dirty Dancing (5 Jun), Mamma Mia (6 Jun). Tickets here.

Luna Cinema, Blenheim Palace

Luna 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

Waddesdon Knives Out

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.

The Lost Cinema, Buscot Park

Buscot Park

Only one date this summer for the big screen at Buscot Park, near Faringdon, and that’s Sat 4 Sept when the eight-metre screen will be showing perennial favourite Grease. The grounds of this late 18th-century mansion are impeccable and a glorious place to settle in for the night – although do take a torch and blanket as September nights draw in quickly (Mum nag over…). Tickets start from £13.50 but you can add extras such as front row seats and fleece blankets. Picnics (including alcohol) are allowed.

Vintage Open-Air Cinema, MK

Vintage Open Air Cinema

The Art Deco-inspired outdoor cinema outfit, complete with table service (!), is back in business and kicking off its summer plans by playing Sam Mendes’ WWI opus 1917 at York House Centre in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes on Sat 29 May. Tickets from £15.14. But there’s more: much more. Throughout the summer, the team will be showing classics (The Goonies, Jurassic Park, Dirty Dancing, etc)  in Furtho Manor, MK, and across the Beds border in Houghton Regis. Click here for the full line up and get booking.

The Greatest Showman Outdoor Cinema Experience, MK

The Greatest Showman

On Fri 20 Aug, the grounds of Wolverton House in Milton Keynes will be awash with people belting out ‘This is me’ as The Greatest Showman comes to town, courtesy of Open Air Film and Chill. Hot food is available on site, along with a bar, but BYOB picnics are welcome too. Singing and dancing is expected – but at the side please: blocking the screen is a big old no-no. Kick yer heels up for £14.50 – book here.

Outdoor Cinema Week, Missenden Abbey

Missenden Abbey

Let’s hope the weather improves for next week as Missenden Abbey in Great Missenden is opening its grounds for four nights (Mon 31 May to Thurs 3 June) of cinematic double bills. Aladdin and The Greatest Showman are on Monday, Frozen II and Bridesmaids – Tuesday, Trolls and Scream – Wednesday, Onward and Pulp Fiction – Thursday. So, essentially, the family friendly film starts at 4pm and the one you definitely don’t want your six-year-old to see begins at 8.15pm. Popcorn and nachos will be available to buy and the bar will be open for business (*hic*). Book tickets here.

Chilfest Outdoor Cinema, Tring

Chilfest Drive-in Movies has now  – thanks to loosening Covid restrictions – transformed into Chilfest Outdoor Cinema with seats and blankets and ability to walk to the bar and back. Such freedom! The team is hoping to run film and comedy events every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer from Fri 17 July – Sun 20 Sept. No details have been released as yet but keep an eye on Chilfest’s website and social to get up-to-date info for their summer season.

AND JUST OVER THE OXON/BUCKS BORDERS…

Abbey Ruins, Reading

Dropped incongruously into the urban sprawl of Reading, you’ll find the Abbey Ruins, once Reading Abbey, which was founded by Henry I and later destroyed by Henry VIII. Today it’s a perfect picnic spot and a dramatic backdrop for outdoor theatre and cinema screenings. The films being shown are as iconic as the setting. First up, the super-cool True Romance (27 May) – written 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 edgier 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 are 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 are available. Doors open at 7.30pm, film starts at 9pm.

The Alfresco Film Company, various locations

Cheltenham, Gloucester, Lechlade, Worcester, Bristol and Cirencester are some of the locations that will be hosting screenings by the Alfresco Film Company. Movies include crowd pleasers like The Greatest Showman, Pretty Woman, The Jungle Book and Jurassic Park. Timings vary, tickets from £13.

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