Outdoor cinema in London: from Jaws on Brockwell Lido to Moonlight at Somerset House

Some things are most definitely better outdoors: swimming pools, barbecues, games of cricket. Cinemas, London has decided, firmly belong to that list – and while we might not do American style drive-ins, sitting out in the sun (or pretending the rain isn’t that bad) has become a staple of summer in the city.

Rooftop Film Club

The Rooftop Film Club has become something of an institution with screenings across London at the Queen of Hoxton, the Bussey Building, Roof East and Kensington Roof Gardens. They play everything from stone cold classics (Casablanca, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dirty Dancing) to modern favourites (I, Daniel Blake, The Lego Batman Movie, Prevenge). Not all venues are screening until August 31, so check their website for full details.

Info: Now – August 31, across London, rooftopfilmclub.com

The Luna Cinema

The Luna Cinema is a giant of outdoor cinema, with screenings all across London and out into the Home Counties. They’re known for picking tremendous venues: across the capital they’ve showings at everywhere from Alexandra Palace to the Regent’s Park open air theatre (always a favourite). The screening of Jaws on Brockwell Lido is always a highlight, and this year they continue the theme with Splash. They don’t have quite the same variety of films as some places, but there’s still plenty of choice, with everything from Grease to Groundhog Day, Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Bridget Jones’ Baby.

Info: Now – October 8, across London, thelunacinema.com

The Nomad

The Nomad are the other big player on the outdoor cinema scene, and are best known for roaming around some stunning venues. Screenings this year will take place in St Paul’s Gardens, Grosvenor Square and Queen’s Park, among others. They’ve a stellar line-up, which is frankly all classics, from The Lion King to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They’ve got a few more recent releases, too, like La La Land and Life of Pi.

Info: Now – Sept 23, across London, whereisthenomad.com

Lost Format Society

Croydon might only have one outdoor cinema, but hey, it’s award-winning. They’ve taken over the top of a car park in the centre of town, screening the likes of Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski, City of God and Enter the Dragon. They’ve transformed the rooftop with an outdoor garden, a covered lounge and bar and a grill going for those hungry. Look out for yoga on Sundays, and the Independent Women Film Festival on August 16, which was a hit last year.

Info: Now – July 29, Top Deck Centrale Car Park, CR0 1XW, lostformatsociety.co.uk

British Summer Time

No-one goes to a music festival just to hear the bands, right? British Summer Time are bringing back their outdoor screenings with a line-up that’s fully family-friendly. The days are themed – Tuesday’s Creature Features has the Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast – with films showing at 6pm and 8.30pm each evening. Our pick of the week is Flashback Friday, which boasts Back To The Future and Dirty Dancing.

Info: July 3 – 7, Hyde Park, W2 2UH, bst-hydepark.com

(Wiki Commons/The Car Spy)
(Wiki Commons/The Car Spy)

The Scoop

You could be forgiven for choosing the Scoop for it’s views rather than the films – you sit practically in the shadow of Tower Bridge – but the line-up is solid, too, with free screenings on Tuesdays of the likes of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Avatar. Keep an eye out for live screenings from the Royal Opera House, which include La Traviata (July 4 ) and Turandot (July 14).

Info: July 4 – 25, More London, SE1 2DB, facebook.com

St Katherine's Dock's Floating Cinema

Another fabulous location – St Katherine’s is vastly underrated and quiet in the evenings – this comfy looking venue is kitted out with deck chairs and bean bags, and will show a different film each day for 13 nights. Screenings are at 7pm, though on Saturdays and Sundays there will be two showings, with an additional family friendly flick at 2pm. Films are, naturally, big hits: think Mean Girls, Anchorman, Donnie Darko and the like.

Info: July 17 – July 30, St Katharine Marina, E1W 1LA, skdocks.co.uk

Pop Up Screens

Taking over eight venues across London (Fulham, Canada Water, Brixton, Hammersmith, Bloomsbury, Kennington, Hither Green and Greenwich Peninsula), these Eurowings-sponsored screenings include 10 Things I Hate About You, Labyrinth, Dr Strange and The Great Gatsby. They’ve food, drink and toilets at all sites, and are a hardy bunch who’ll always go on, whatever the weather. Well, maybe not in a hurricane, but there’s no official word on that.

Info: July 21 – Sept 26, across London, popupscreens.co.uk

Somerset House

This may be the grandest of all the outdoor cinema venues – though, admittedly, Luna at Hampton Court Palace is fairly spectacular – and the Film4 Summer Screen line-up is first rate, too. There are classics and big hits, certainly, but they’re interesting ones: think Moonlight, The Philadelphia Story and All The President’s Men. Put August 23 in your diary, too: it’s the UK premiere of Patti Cake$, a coming-of-age tale of an ordinary girl who wants to be a superstar rapper.

Info: Aug 10 – 23, Strand, WC2R 1LA, somersethouse.org.uk