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9 outdoor cinemas to book now

Nothing says summer like an alfresco night out watching fab movies under the stars. From gardens to amphitheatres, here's where to head, popcorn and blanket at the ready

Luna Cinema, Waddesdon Manor

Luna Cinema is, arguably, the big daddy of outdoor cinema and the venues reflect its status. The Luna juggernaut is decamping at Waddesdon Manor for four nights for Moulin Rouge (8 Sept), No Time to Die (9 Sept), Steven Spielberg’s retelling of West Side Story (10 Sept) and going retro, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (11 Sept). There will be the usual fab food and drink stalls and trucks, but you can take a picnic (but no booze), 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. Or you can go fancy and opt for a firepit-side sofa with blankets and a bottle of prosecco, or a deckchair for two, or hire one of the director’s chairs if you want to travel light.

The Old Shed, Charlbury

The Old Shed cafe at Banbury Hill Farm is dipping a toe into the outdoor cinema realm with it’s first ever series of summer screenings. With Bohemian Rhapsody as its opener on 17 June, it’s sure to get off to a rousing start. Then there’s Encanto and Sing 2 as matinees on 18 & 19 June and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (18 June) and No Time to Die (19 June) for the grown-ups. Food and drink are available on site, as you’d expect from this fab little farm cafe.

Dish at Harwell Campus, Didcot

Guardians of the Galaxy is a safe bet for this Jubilee weekend screening at the business park just outside Didcot. OK, so that’s not the best sell, but get this – the screening on 2 June also includes street food and drink from the fabulous Dish, a collective of vendors selling fresh-cooked Japanese, Indian, Thai and more. Take your own low-backed camping chairs, picnic rugs or deckchairs (or reserve one with a blanket), sit back and enjoy.

Millets Farm, Abingdon

This busy farm shop/garden centre/PYO/soft play/cafe/bird of prey centre is a hive of activity every year and this summer is no different, with outdoor cinema among the offerings. On screen will be The Lost Boys, Encanto, West Side Story and Mamma Mia from 24-27 August, with food and drink on site but picnics welcome.

Waterperry Gardens, near Oxford

The gorgeous grounds of Waterperry play host to three movies from 7-9 July – Pretty Woman, West Side Story and Belfast. There will be food and drink, plus bucolic views and a bit of border envy thrown in…

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 starting with Timothée Chalamet’s Dune (25 May) (suddenly sci-fi is appealing), West Side Story (27 May), and Encanto (28 May) then onto a mix of new releases and classics throughout the summer including the 1986 cult movie, Labyrinth. Alongside the movie there’s tipples from local suppliers, Double Barrelled Brewery and Henley Distillery plus various foodie options. 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 The French Dispatch (22 June) and Reservoir Dogs (23 June) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie (how can that be!), then a roster of crowd pleasing new releases and retro hits including E.T., King Richard, and Titanic. You last chance to snag your spot will 17 Sept for Jurassic Park. Doors open at 7.30pm, film starts at 9pm.

Tuckwell Amphitheatre in Dean Close

The Tuckwell Amphitheatre in Cheltenham is a gorgeous stone-built amphitheatre in the wooded grounds of Dean Close School, and is a rather idyllic setting for theatre and cinema in the summer months (though you should defo pack a cushion…). The Cinema Under The Stars programme this year sees Dirty Dancing and Chicago screened on 11-12 Aug.

The Alfresco Film Company, various locations

Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Stow-on-the-Wold 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, Jaws, Mamma Mia, and Rocket Man. Timings vary, tickets from £13.

And ones to watch…

A few open air cinemas are yet to announce their showings, including Outdoor Cinema MK and Vintage Open Air Cinema, also in MK, plus Missenden Abbey, Chilfest Cinema in Tring, Stubbings Nursery near Maidenhead, Harrow School, … and goodbye to Lost Cinema, which ran screenings all over the south-east including Buscot Park last year, but ha sadly closed down.

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