The Best Outdoor Cinemas in London

You never know where the Nomad Cinema is going to pop up next
You never know where the Nomad Cinema is going to pop up next | © Mickey Lee / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nicholas Grantham
19 October 2020

The future of cinema has taken different forms over the past few years. No longer confined to the classic set-up, screens have popped up everywhere, from immersive interactive experiences to the classic drive-in. Here are some of the best outdoor cinemas to enjoy while you’re in London.

Openaire Float-in Cinema

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EDITORIAL USE ONLY An audience watches a film at the Openaire Float-In Cinema by H??agen-Dazs, which consists of a fleet of eco-boats providing seating for up to 128 people at Paddington Basin, London.
© PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re looking for a truly unique cinematic night out, the Openaire Float-in Cinema in Paddington offers guests a nautical setting for the silver screen. Take a quick trip in your private boat around Little Venice before mooring up for the start of the film. Popcorn, drinks and snacks are all available from an online ordering app, and the perfectly placed RaviOllie offers an Italian pop-up for a pre-screening meal. Titles suitably include Jaws (1975), Life of Pi (2012) and Titanic (1997), giving you a true water-based watching experience.

The Nomad Cinema

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Outdoor Cinema by Nomad at Bleeding Heart Yard
© Mickey Lee / Alamy Stock Photo

Started by the same talented team behind the much loved Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise, the Nomad Cinema offers the same high-standard experience in a variety of locations across the capital. A largely charitable undertaking, this cinema is predominantly run by volunteers, with 100 percent of its profits going into its chosen charity, the Sustainability Institute. Screening a wide range of titles from incredible locations, including Brampton Cemetery, Festival Gardens in St Paul’s Cathedral and even Wembley Park, the Nomad provides a memorable trip to the movies.

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

Building, Cinema, Music Venue
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Outdoor cinema in the sunlit courtyard of Somerset House, London, England.
© Richpics / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
Based in the historic setting of Somerset House, this summer extravaganza is one that cinephiles put on their calendar every year. Taking place in August, the programme, which includes double bills, cult cinema and crowd-pleasing classics, frequently sells out, so book early. Make sure to bring a picnic blanket and pillows for the ultimate experience of watching a movie under the summer stars.

Forbidden Forest Cinema

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New for 2020 and coming to London from the Pop Up Screens company, the Forbidden Forest Cinema is offering horror fans a truly creepy outdoor setting. With a programme including cult classics and contemporary chillers, there will certainly be something to scare. In Copeland Park in Peckham, the cinema itself has a fully stocked bar along with a few spooky surprises.

The Luna Cinema

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Brockwell Lido Jaws
© Luna Cinema

Frequently touted as one of the best open-air cinemas in the country, the Luna Cinema now boasts locations across the UK. The original and the best, housed in Dulwich Park, is definitely one to visit. With a line-up of titles that include family favourites and modern classics, there will be something for all tastes. By booking private pitches, you’ll be sure to have enough room to spread out with a well-packed picnic, creating the perfect movie-going experience.

Rooftop Film Club

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The open-air cinema on the roof of Peckham's Bussey Building. An audience enjoys John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever
© Simon Turner / Alamy Stock Photo

With spectacular views across the cityscape, the screens at the Rooftop Film Club will have tough competition for your attention, and with several sites based around the capital, you’ll have a few options available. However, the Rooftop Film Club based on top of the Bussey Building in Peckham is a must-visit – you can enjoy cinematic classics from the comfort of deckchairs and will have access to a fully stocked bar.

These recommendations were updated on October 19, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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