Sun screen: The best outdoor cinemas in London

Zoe Gunn

5 May 2022

Soak up the rays in front of your favourite film at the finest rooftop and al fresco cinemas in the capital

5 May 2022 Zoe Gunn

T

here's something a little bit special about London's outdoor cinemas. Largely found on repurposed rooftops or above multi-storey car parks, these unusual spots almost always offer views dramatic enough to viee for attention with whatever's on screen. Whether showing new releases or old favourites, there are few better ways to pass a sunny afternoon than basking in the rays while watching a favourite film. And, if it happens to rain? Well, there’s no greater British pastime than stubbornly persevering with an outdoor event under umbrellas and raincoats. Read on for our guide to the outdoor cinemas that promise a screening to remember…

Roof East, Stratford

Found on top of a multi-storey car park (see, we told you) conveniently located opposite Westfield Stratford City, Roof East is home to multiple bars, street food vendors, a crazy golf course, batting cages and lawn bowls, as well as an open air cinema, making it the perfect destination if you’re looking to make a day of your outing. Screenings are organised by the specialist Rooftop Film Club, so expect a slick operation complete with comfy deck chairs and a huge variety of films. This year’s line-up features newer releases as well as classics, including Goodfellas, West Side Story (2021) and Encanto.

Tickets from £16.95, roofeast.com

Luna Cinema, various locations

Popping up at no fewer than 11 London locations throughout the summer, including Kensington Palace, Clapham Common and Westminster Abbey, Luna Cinema is the capital’s most expansive outdoor cinema operation. Promising giant HD screens and state-of-the-art sound systems, this year’s offering includes House of Gucci, No Time To Die, King Richard and The Devil Wears Prada. Guests are welcome to bring their own picnic, while each venue also offers a range of food and drink options from local suppliers, such as JRK Bros, Little Moons Mochi and Sisus Crepes. For the full experience book the Luna Luxe Sofa package, which includes entry for two, premium sofa seating in a prime position, a firepit, blankets and a bottle of prosecco.

Tickets from £19.50, thelunacinema.com

Bussey Building, Peckham

Another summer screening offering created by the Rooftop Film Club, the cinema atop the Bussey Building in Peckham has been around long enough to become many Londoners' go-to for al fresco entertainment. Start your evening with a drink at the Bussey Rooftop Bar – the views across south London make this one of the city’s best spots for a sundowner – before retiring to your deck chair to enjoy the show. Download the app and pizza, popcorn and drinks can be delivered directly to your seat so you don’t have to miss a minute of the show. Our picks from this year’s line-up include Licorice Pizza, Belfast, True Romance and Clueless.

Tickets from £16.95, rooftopfilmclub.com

Openaire Cinema, Paddington

Undoubtedly London’s most unique outdoor cinema experience, Openaire does away with standard seating, swapping picnic blankets and deck chairs for, um, boats. Described as being akin to a drive-in cinema, the ‘float-in’ concept sees guests kitted out with a boat for up to eight people plus headphones to provide you with top quality sound. Simply pick up your boat and navigate your way through the waters of Little Venice down to Merchant Square in Paddington. Once arrived, boats remain moored throughout the screening, so you’ll have access to land for the duration. This summer’s films have yet to be announced but, with Joker, Jaws, Mamma Mia! and The Greatest Showman making up last year's line-up, we recommend setting up an alert now.

£248.40 for an eight-person boat, openaire.com

Adventure Cinema, Charlton

The much-lauded Adventure Cinema will once again be traversing the UK this summer, screening classic films and modern masterpieces to film buffs from Hove to the Highlands. It's making just one stop in London, at the stunning Charlton House and Gardens, for a weekend of musicals including West Side Story, Rocketman and Mamma Mia! VIP deck chairs are available but we recommend doing this one the old-fashioned way by bringing your own blanket and picnic - good times guaranteed.

Tickets from £14.50, adventurecinema.co.uk

Read more: The new films and TV shows to stream this summer