The world’s greatest outdoor cinemas

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Step outside to the Paris Cinema

Step outside to the Paris Cinema.

What do cinema screens require in order to work properly? Darkness. What does the night sky have lots of? That’s right – darkness.

Cinema and the outdoors are a marriage made in a heavenly sky pin-pricked by constellations. Movie-goers the world over love outdoor cinemas – even Britain has them. For the ultimate al fresco movie experience, however, you’ll need to travel to where the weather is warmer and the scenery is grander.

Don’t fancy grabbing a bottle of wine and some pesto dip? No problem: Buckfast and Haribo works just as well. Or you could just keep it traditional and bring your own popcorn and soda. Bonus: unlike regular cinema snacks, you won’t require a second mortgage to munch your way through the classics.

Cine Thisio, Athens

outdoor cinemas

Cine Thisio, Athens.

Internet reviewers – i.e the general public – are a tough bunch to please. They appear to be unanimous in agreement about one thing though: Athens’ Cine Thisio kicks ass. The view of the Acropolis alone is worth the admission fee, while the ivy-clad walls and traditional movie projector – the cinema was built in 1935 – hark back to a bygone age, when cinema was the social media of its day, but without all the hashtags.

Just think: before the internet was invented, to discover global movie theatres you’d have to sit in an outdoor movie theatre and learn about them on the big screen.

St. George Open Air Cinema, Sydney

outdoor cinemas

St. George Open Air Cinema, Sydney.

With a backdrop of Sydney Opera House and all those other iconic landmarks you recognise but can’t name, St. George Open Air Cinema is winning before the trailers have even started. If you can tear your gaze away from the enchanting cityscape, there’s an eclectic movie schedule which runs through January and February. That’s right: while us Brits are moaning about gas prices and donning an extra sweater, the Aussies are sipping Elderflower Mules and feeling smug. Goddammit.

Vivo Open Air, Brasilia

Vivo Open Air Cinema, Brasilia

Vivo Open Air Cinema, Brasilia.

Vivo Open Air lays on real cinema beside an artificial lake. The screen posited in the Brazilian capital weighs 70 tons and was shipped in four containers before being assembled using a crane and forklift. It’s a sturdy beast: the 45m² screen can withstand rain and 50mph winds – because that must be a frequent occurrence in Brazil.

Unless you arrived early for the World Cup, you’ve probably missed this year’s Vivo Open Air, which runs till 1st June in Brasilia. Not to worry though: a new programme will commence in May 2015 (leaving you plenty of time to get your flights and accommodation together…).

Red Rocks Ampitheatre, Colorado

Red Rocks Ampitheatre, Colorado

Red Rocks Ampitheatre, Colorado.

If there are two things bloggers love, it’s sweeping generalisations and lamenting the decline of Hollywood. Mainstream cinema’s really gone downhill, hasn’t it? Never fear: Colorado’s Red Rocks Ampitheatre will entertain you. Even if it’s a hopeless rom-com or Saw part XXVIII, there’s always the magnificent ampitheatre to captivate in the shadow of Ship Rock and Creation Rock.

Dusk screenings are prefaced by live music, set against a backdrop of pine trees and arid prairie. The programme is sponsored by Pepsi incidentally, so whatever you do, don’t take Coke.

Cinema en Plein Air, Paris

Cinema en Plein Air, Paris

Cinema en Plein Air, Paris.

What is the obsession with watching cinema under the stars? Oh yeah, because it looks amazing, that’s what. In summertime, the immaculate lawns of Parc de la Villette are lined with deck chairs as Parisians lap up the maxim that the best things in life are free: cinema, company and celestial splendour. You’ll have to pay to hire the deck chairs though.

If your crush turns down an invitation to watch cinema under the stars, you might as well face facts: it’s never meant to be.

Archipelago Cinema, Thailand

Archipelago Cinema, Thailand

Archipelago Cinema, Thailand.

In 2012, a floating cinema was built at Kudu Island on a raft made from recycled materials. The question is: how safe would you feel watching Jaws while surrounded by open water?

Set in the azure waters of a lagoon, the cinema witnessed the debut of Film on the Rocks Yao Noi. The festival was meant to become an annual event, but Archipelago Cinema has been quiet lately. Any chance of a re-screening for those of us who missed out the first time round?

Hot Tub Cinema, London/New York

Hot Tub Cinema, London/New York

Hot Tub Cinema, London/New York.

Is there anything you can’t do in a hot tub? Make toast perhaps, but everything else is infinitely better when accompanied by water jets and, preferably, a phalange of beauties. Hot Tub Cinema runs rooftop events across London and New York throughout the year.

And before you ask, yes, Hot Tub Cinema does show Hot Tub Time Machine in a hot tub. The mind boggles.

Cinespia Cinema, LA

Cinespia Cinema, LA

Cinespia Cinema, LA.

Forget watching scary movies on the couch with the lights out – if you want to feel shivers down your spine, take a trip to Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

While Johnny Ramone, Rudolph Valentino and Jayne Mansfield rest in peace, LA couples watch the sun set as DJs spin tunes. When the stars come out to play, it’s time to snuggle up under a blanket and enjoy a movie in the shadow of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Legends come and go but the big screen lives forever.

Flicks on Bricks, Oregon

Flicks on Bricks, Oregon

Flicks on Bricks, Oregon.

Portland’s Courthouse Square becomes the people’s cinema every summer when the locals vote on which movies they’d like to see. If you don’t fancy sitting on bricks for 120 minutes, bring a deckchair or a bottle to numb the pain.

Forthcoming flicks for July 2014 include Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and The Smurfs. What did you expect – French indie?

Rooftop Movies, Perth

Rooftop Movies, Perth

Rooftop Movies, Perth.

The Aussies love their rooftop cinema – or is it just rooftops they’re enamoured with? Either way, it turns out that when you build a pop-up bar and lay out rows of deckchairs, they turn out en masse. The palm trees, vintage caravans and – oh yes – movie screen are merely the icing on the cake.

Secret Cinema, Sinai

Secret Cinema, Sinai

Secret Cinema, Sinai.

The final entry on this list is an outdoor cinema you will never visit. Not because it’s situated in the Sinai Desert, but because it’s no longer with us. This beautiful cinema was the brainchild of an eccentric Frenchman, who purchased the seats from an old theatre in Cairo. For unclear reasons, the opening night’s screening was cancelled and the cinema has lain abandoned ever since. Perhaps it was for the best: all that sand would have played havoc with the projector. Visit today and all you’ll find is a heap of broken chairs withering under the fierce sun.



KaiThe world’s greatest outdoor cinemas

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