MATT DAVIS, AUGUST 2017
Despite Westeros and the Stark’s insistence to the contrary, it’s summer. It is finally summer, we finally have sun and, at last, us Londoners can escape our bricked confines in search of warm rays and sunny days.
Terrible t-shirt tans, inexcusable sock and sandal combinations and an even smellier London Underground experience are the compromises we accept in exchange for the sun’s gesture of good will in gracing us with its presence for even a few weeks. In a bid to squeeze every last morsel of sunshine on offer, us Londoners are taking our activities outdoors. In recent weeks I have written on the best places to picnic, London’s best outdoor swimming offers and, now, I propose we take our love of film outside. Outdoor cinemas are one of the best bits about summer, and yet hardly any of my friends are taking advantage!
These films are often cult classics, giving you a chance to watch some of your favourites from a bygone era once more on the big screen, from Dirty Dancing and Topgun to Gladiator and The Goonies, there’s something for everyone. And, as with so many of the best summer past-times, it facilitates our insatiable thirst for outside drinking. Park up with a Pimms in-hand on a deck-chair, blanket or, if you’re feeling particularly in touch with nature, embrace the grass as your nest for the next two hours and enjoy all the comfort and relaxation of a movie night, while still being sociable and topping up your tan.
We’re spoilt for choice in London for these, Wandsworth Park, Hampton Court Palace and Brockwell Lido are all beautiful places to sit and pass the time with a film, some drinks, and that all-important vitamin D. However, my two favourite places for outdoor cinemas are the Queen of Hoxton and Greenwich Park.
Greenwich Park's Outdoor Cinema takes place at the very top of the hill, just outside the observatory. This means you’ve got a longer, lighter evening, as there’s little opportunity for the shade to rear its darkened, shadowy head. It also provides a sensationally beautiful backdrop of our famous London skyline and, my personal favourite aspect, you’re in with a shot of – and provided with the perfect excuse to –sit and watch the sunset. The food they put on is great (I especially recommend the arancini balls) and the bar stays open throughout the duration of the film.
Queen of Hoxton takes second spot of London’s plentiful selection because, really, it encompasses everything that’s cool about the very concept of outdoor screenings. It feels like one big sleepover, but where your personal space isn’t being invaded and it isn’t rude to just stay for the food and films and then go home. At the Queen of Hoxton, you’ve got the perfect setting – its rooftop setup includes a bar with an eclectic mix of cocktails and other drinks on offer. The seating is cosy but is spacious enough that you’re not sat half on a stranger’s lap and the film choice is second to none. Boasting titles such as the Shawshank Redemption, Back to the Future and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you’ve got an array of film choices that will suit even your fussiest friend. It’s right in the heart of East London, so finding food first is a treat not a chore meaning you can lure any sceptical friends in with the promise of a great dinner – and who can resist that?