The weather has picked up so that means we can once again enjoy some great movies in cool new venues. The summer film calendar is always a highlight in London, with some amazing film events and outdoor cinema taking place right across the capital.
Organisers have once again pulled out all of the stops to put on a great show, and to get film-lovers to really make a memorable night of it. With a diverse film slate that caters for all ages there’s something for everyone to enjoy, and this year there’s an unprecedented amount of free-to-attend events too.
The classic are always well represented and there’s a healthy dose of new favourites too, so it’s the perfect time to experience some great movie magic.
Let’s take a look at what’s happening this summer in the capital.
The Luna Cinema
The premiere outdoor event returns for a new season and boasts the most impressive roster of venues you’ll find. Experiencing The Luna Cinema in such unique surroundings as The Regent’s Park Open-Air Theatre, The Old Royal Naval College, Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey is simply stunning. The staff are always super-friendly too which helps. Added extras include their premium ticket range that grants you special experiences at selected screenings (such as watching Aquaman in a rubber dingy at the gorgeous Brockwell Lido). Public-vote screenings are held across the season and their entire line-up marries classic and modern cinema very well – favourites like Batman, Moulin Rouge and Dirty Dancing are mixed with modern greats like The Favourite, Crazy Rich Asians and Bohemian Rhapsody for an unforgettable summer experience.
Rooftop Film Club
One of the brightest sparks on the circuit for both atmosphere and event organisation, The Rooftop Film Club possesses a near faultless line-up. It has three set locations conveniently spread across the capital… The Queen of Hoxton utilises its hipster-chic to full effect and The Bussey Building in Peckham gives you a wonderful cityscape to marvel at. Roof East in Stratford is a purpose built area that overlooks Westfield and takes in the sights of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The film line-up is amazing too – don’t miss classics like Rushmore, Mean Girls and Superbad along with modern hits like Aladdin and Eighth Grade. But the highlight has to be 80s rom-com royalty Mannequin – and you’ve got to sing along to the classic theme-song too!
The Nomad Cinema
The most socially-conscious event on the outdoor film circuit, 100% of The Nomad Cinema’s profits go to their chosen charity, The Sustainability Institute in South Africa. Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Green Book, Do The Right Thing, Some Like It Hot and Bohemian Rhapsody are just some of the gems that feature in their eclectic line-up. Venues include Citypoint, Queens Park and St. Luke’s, the home of the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) but surely the biggest highlight of the season has to be any movie screened at Brompton Cemetery – a truly unique environment to enjoy a classic in.
Secret Cinema: Casino Royale
One of the greatest Bond films of all time gets its due credit thanks to a season of spy-tastic fun from those clever souls at Secret Cinema. Transforming a top-secret London location into the mesmerising locale of the movie, Secret Cinema: Casino Royale is set to deliver an experience like no other with themed areas and an opportunity to live the glamorous lifestyle of 007. You can buy two different ticket packages – Standard and VIP. After ground-breaking productions of Back to the Future, The Empire Strikes Back and Romeo + Juliet, expect another spectacular event. More dates have been added, but are disappearing as fast as a shaken martini.
Pop Up Screens
Utilising spaces like East Dulwich, Holborn, Hammersmith, Kingston, Fulham (and a whole host more), Pop-Up Screens returns for their most diverse line-up to date. Movies like The Breakfast Club, Good Will Hunting, 10 Things I Hate About You, Baby Driver, Four Weddings & a Funeral, Grease, The Little Mermaid, Get Out and Labyrinth are joined by relatively new titles to the open-air film calendar like Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, The Incredibles 2, First Man and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.
Time Out: Movies on the River
Movies on the River is London’s first ever cinema on the Thames and for 5 nights a week until August their movie-boat will offer some great films along with food and drink – all embarking from the Tower of London. Once the sun goes down, they’ll dock somewhere in the shadows of some of London’s most recognisable landmarks and screen the movie on the open-air top deck of the boat. Their stellar line-up includes perennial classic Dirty Dancing, Baby Driver, Romeo + Juliet, Top Gun, Casablanca, Mary Poppins Returns, La La Land, Notting Hill and Hugh Jackman’s crowd-pleaser The Greatest Showman to name but a few.
BST Hyde Park: Open House
If you’re on a budget then look no further than Barclaycard presents British Summer Time: Hyde Park – Open House. It’s the free part of the popular BST Hyde Park festivities that take place every year. Free themed movie nights, live music and entertainment, street food, pop up bars and Wimbledon tennis screenings join other events like a Circus Upswing performance, Yoga, a family theatre, The Royal Parks Showcase and lots more. But it’s their free film line-up that has got us interested. Spiceworld: The Movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, Back to the Future, The Greatest Showman, Dirty Dancing and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy deliver something for everyone, with screenings taking place at 5.30pm and 8.30pm on a first come, first served basis.
Summer Love Festival
This free open-air film festive is back with a bang. Much of their line-up is booked up already, but don’t fret because plenty of walk-in spaces are available on the day for all of their screenings. Get there early though, because this is one popular venue. Among the highlights this season are Pride, The Goonies, Clueless, Black Panther and seminal 80s classic The Karate Kid (which amazingly celebrates its 35th anniversary this year). Films will be played throughout the day and every evening, with regular breaks to catch up on all of the Wimbledon action. The movies are screened to the famous Canal-side steps on Granary Square. That’s just a stone’s throw from the brand new Coal Drops Yard too, a cracking place for summer nights with more than 50 shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy.
The Floating Film Festival
Taking place at St. Katharine Docks, The Floating Film Festival is another relatively new addition to the summer film calendar and one that boasts a wonderful view. Board their floating platform and pull up a deck chair or get comfortable in a bean bag to watch some all-time favourites onscreen! Stan & Ollie, Aquaman, A Star is Born, Instant Family, The Upside, Mary Poppins Returns and Green Book are just some of your more modern options. With a selection of snacks and soft/alcoholic drinks available for you to purchase on the pontoon too, this looks to be a real winner for outdoor cinema.
The Luna Beach Cinema
Ok granted, Brighton isn’t in London… but with so many Londoners making the short trip down to the famed beach, it only seemed right to include this on the list. There’s something for everyone with a full movie line-up that’s out of this world. Dirty Dancing, Grease, Magic Mike, Bohemian Rhapsody, Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Detective Pikachu, Sharknado and The Meg make the line-up with more being added all the time. Worth it, if only for the fact that this is an amazing location to enjoy a film in, and if the weather holds out then this is the place to be – especially with their VIP tickets that include a private beach hut and butler.
Summer by the River
London’s largest outdoor free festival has been running for the past few months but its film season is quite special in the coming weeks. Taking up residence in the famed Scoop just next to City Hall and overlooking the majestic Tower Bridge, you can head down to watch Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, Coco, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald. With a whole host of other activities too including music and stage performances, food & drink pop-ups and workshops galore, you best get down there quick as it’s first come-first served and expected to be very popular.
Wembley: Summer on Screen
Arena Square comes to life over the next few weeks with a summer screenings season that includes Hollywood hits, classic sing-a-longs, Bollywood blockbusters, and even outdoor screenings live from the Royal Opera House. And it’s all for the right price too – absolutely free! With that being the case, make sure to get there early to nab your seat and enjoy some of the pre-show entertainment, food and drink. Titles include Life Goes On, Dirty Dancing, The Greatest Showman, La La Land and Green Book.
Film4 Summer Screen
The old faithful returns for another residency at the lush surroundings of Somerset House in August. The festivities kick off in style with director Pedro Almodóvar and superstar Antonio Banderas introducing their opening night film Pain & Glory. The Matrix, The Princess Bride, Black Panther, God’s Own Country, Straight Outta Compton, Clueless, and Reservoir Dogs are just some of the highlights of the slate this year. Their now-infamous double bills also continue with Richard Linklater’s seminal masterpieces Before Sunset & Before Sunrise getting a headline slot, along with Get Out & They Live and a Nicolas Cage double header of Wild at Heart & Mandy.
The Luna Kids Cinema
Set up for big and little kids alike, the clever souls at The Luna Cinema are not only content with bringing you their usual magnificent slate (see last month), and some cool movies to enjoy on the beach – they even cater for the young ones too! A full line-up of family favourites await including Peppa Pig: Festival of Fun, Dumbo, The Gruffalo, Moana, The Little Mermaid, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Aladdin and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The movies will screen in places like Hampton Court Palace during the mornings and afternoons so little ones can experience some outdoor film fun too – perfect for the summer holidays.
Backyard Cinema: LA Nights
Not content with doing a special choir-led screening of William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet at the Union Chapel in Islington, Backyard Cinema are also doing LA Nights in Camden. Set to bring some West Coast love to North London, the summer beach party features sand, cocktails and palm trees for a covered event that won’t be affected by the weather. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Dumbo, Captain Marvel, BlacKkKlansman, A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians, Clueless, Bad Boys and Mean Girls are just a small part of their eclectic summer slate.
Canary Wharf Movie Nights
If you like your movie nights surrounded by some iconic buildings then Canary Wharf movie nights could be for you. This free event runs throughout the summer and takes place at Canada Square Park. Bring a picnic and take in some classic movies including Ghost, E.T., Into the Woods, Little Shop of Horrors, Ghostbusters, Alien, Blade Runner, The Terminator, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Night at the Museum, Edward Scissorhands and Jurassic Park.
Rivoli Ballroom: Cinema Nights
Crofton Park Pictures are hosting a pop-up cinema night at the lush surroundings of the Rivoli Ballroom. The famous venue is one of the last remaining 1950’s styled ballrooms left in the capital. Designed by Henley Attwater with a barrel-vaulted auditorium, it first opened in 1913 and provides a suitably cool atmosphere to enjoy a film. Later in the summer they go full-on 80s with Desperately Seeking Susan, Labyrinth and Purple Rain but August is Star Wars month, with the ballroom entertaining all three of the original Star Wars movies (A New Hope, Empire & Jedi).
Beach Club Cinema
Fulham Beach Club has a residency at Neverland London this year. Nestled on Wandsworth Bridge Road, the venue houses a lot of different events but their Beach Club Cinema is set to be an interesting addition to the film calendar. Opposite the water and with sand under your feet, you can experience some great films like Notting Hill, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born and Four Weddings & A Funeral, with plenty of food and drink on offer too.
Southbank Centre Summer Nights
Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece headlines a great season of film fun at London’s famous Southbank Centre. The location is wonderful during the warmer months, with plenty to see and do and with the picturesque Thames running alongside. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Chicago, Little Shop of Horrors and Coming to America are also on the slate and best of all, every film is free. It’s bound to get really busy though, especially given its central London location so best get there early to nab a good spot.
Leicester Square Summer Screenings
Boasting fresh air, free films and family fun, London’s world famous Leicester Square once again plays host to a 4-day festival of free movies this August. With a slate that caters for everyone, the Square will screen around 5 films a day and the line-up is impressive. Peter Rabbit, Babe, Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again!, Groundhog Day, Dumbo, Moana, The Incredibles 2, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, E.T, Mrs Doubtfire, Jurassic Park, Mary Poppins Returns, Sister Act, Ghostbusters and Back to the Future are joined by sing-a-long screenings of Grease, The Greatest Showman, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen.
The Royal Albert Hall
Celebrating one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, the hallowed hall will screen Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back for the first time in concert. This epic movie is an undisputed classic and continues to be loved by film fans the world over, with many citing it as the best Star Wars film of all time. The Royal Albert Hall faithful can experience this ground-breaking movie like never before, with the film being projected onscreen in HD with the philharmonic orchestra performing John Williams’ iconic score live under the guidance of conductor Dirk Brossé. The perfect end to the summer film season… but get in there quick before these hot tickets vanish.
*All films and times subject to change – check websites for updated information