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One of the screens at Light House Cinema in Dublin
Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

The 7 best cinemas in Dublin

Artsy picture house or massive multiplex? Whatever you prefer, our guide to the best cinemas in Dublin can deliver

Written by
Shilpa Ganatra
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The golden age of cinema-going may have been ended by the unrelenting development of personal technology, but there is still something charmingly romantic about paying over the odds for popcorn, sitting through trailers and watching the latest silver screen released in a darkened room with strangers. Sure, you can watch films in the comfort of your own home, but you can’t beat the big screen, big sound and big feel of the cinema. That is where movies should be seen.

Ireland is a nation of storytellers, which goes a long way to explaining its position as a dominant force in the world of movie-making. The nation’s cinema attendance is one of the highest in Europe, and Dublin is at the heart of that love. The best cinemas in Dublin are the perfect place to catch a classic or a fresh release before heading on towards the city’s excellent restaurants and its world-beating pubs. Down in front!

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Best cinemas in Dublin

The beating heart of Irish cinema, the IFI is the first port of call for domestic releases. They also show international independent productions that often won’t be shown anywhere else in Ireland. The Temple Bar complex houses three screens, an archive and a shop, plus a large café in which you might spot Irish film industry bit-players. It’s the go-to place for artsy types with a couple of hours to kill in the city centre – there’s always something worth seeing.

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Run by Element Pictures (the production company that made ‘The Magdalene Sisters’ and ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’), the Light House is run with the creativity and passion you’d only expect from a bunch of proper film buffs. Big releases, Irish classics, a run of short films, one-off screenings, themed weekenders – you name it, they show it. It’s a fabulous space, too: bang in the middle of trendy Smithfield (also home to the Jameson Distillery), its airy, whitewashed interior feels more like a contemporary art gallery than a cinema.

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This cosy cinema in a city-centre hotel can be hired for up to 26 guests, whether for a hen party, a lavish date night or simply a mates’ get-together. They provide the popcorn, you bring the DVD. For a heavier night, if the hotel’s food and bar offering don’t appeal, hosts can bring wine along (provided the corkage pee is paid).

A pioneer of the luxury cinema experience in Ireland, the Stella is a restored one-screen picture house from the 1920s with a host of original features. You’ll find each luxuriant leather seat dimly lit by a sultry table lamp here – that helps when picking at the food offering (think mini-tacos, panko chicken tenders and churros). On a date? We recommend two-person sofas and double beds.

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Standing resplendent on the main drag of O’Connell Street, the Savoy has been a fixture in Dublin since 1929. It was the principal location for Ireland’s glamorous red carpet premieres until a recent refurb, but its reputation as a cinematic institution remains. It now puts on a broad mix of films, across 13 screens, from mainstream flicks to the bigger leftfield releases.

The baby sister of the main Stella, this 44-seater is in the basement of the uber-cool Devlin hotel in the Ranelagh neighbourhood, a 15-minute walk from the city centre. Come in through the adjoining cocktail bar – all gilded edging, mirror panelling and backlights – and you’ll immediately be struck by how intimate the place feels. Don’t expect a packed programme, though (nearly) everything they show is gold.

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One for international blockbusters, this Cineworld is the biggest cinema in Ireland, with 17 screens from the giant to the snug. In addition to its Imax screen, at the time of writing it was the only place in the UK or Ireland that shows movies in 4DX. That’s where effects like moving seats, wind, strobe lighting, surround sound, scents and splashes of water merge in the ultimate immersive cinema experience. You’re a brave soul if you try it with a horror film.

Fancy some outdoor relaxation?

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There’s a reason green is the national colour of Ireland. The whole island is defined by its lush fields, verdant woodland and gorgeous gardens – and the capital city is no different. It’s home to Phoenix Park, the largest urban park in Europe, and elsewhere it brims with luxuriant public spaces.

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