Worldwide icon-chevron-right The 40 most beautiful outdoor cinemas in the world
The Galileo
Photograph: The Galileo

The 40 most beautiful outdoor cinemas in the world

Take a tour of the most spectacular starlit screens on the planet

By Time Out editors and Phil de Semlyen
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There’s few more glorious summer activities than lying back in the great outdoors and soaking up a movie. The sun dropping beneath the horizon, the prosecco flowing, Hugh Jackman about to start singing in a top hat – let’s face it, you’re statistically likely to be watching The Greatest Showman – and a deckchair to sink into. What could be more perfect? You even get to use that comfy blanket your nan gave you.

But if there’s one thing that ups the ante on the experience , it’s doing it in an eye-poppingly beautiful location – like one of the 40 starlit screens on this list. From a screen that emerges from Sydney harbour like a kind of cinematic Botticelli, to a vertiginous Colorado amphitheatre, to Cannes’s iconic Cinéma de la Plage, they cover all bases and the entire globe. Take a tour of the most spectacular screens on the planet.

The Grounds
The Grounds
Photograph: The Grounds HK

40. The Grounds, Hong Kong

Backdropped by Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, The Grounds is designed specifically for the socially-distanced ‘new normal’. The venue has 100 socially distanced private pods that seat up to four people and features a giant LED screen amped up by a state-of-the-art sound system. Here, people enjoy film screenings, live music, even yoga. Food from various restaurants, including cinema snacks and boozy beverages, are available and can be ordered via a QR code and delivered directly to your pods. Close your eyes and you’re in your own private cinema. Tatum Ancheta

Moonflicks
Moonflicks
Photograph: Mark Carline

39. Moonflicks, Chester

Chester Cathedral predates the medium of film by a good 350 years, but the two have been making up for lost time since 2013 in this genteel corner of northwest England. Moonflicks’ 30-foot screen pops up in the cathedral gardens every summer, offering locals the chance to venture on to its pristine lawns and rug up for a screening of Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born and other outdoor cinema staples. You need to bring your own seating but sound is supplied via wireless headphone – imagine what an amplified Inception would do to those stained glass windows – and they’ll even bring pizza to your pitch. Going to church is rarely this fun. Phil de Semlyen

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Cinemoving San Polo
Cinemoving San Polo
Photograph: Alvise Busetto

38. Cinemoving San Polo, Venice

Venice’s second biggest public square, Campo San Polo has seen everything from bullfights to masked balls to the odd assassination during its colourful history. Nowadays, the drama comes via its open-air cinema, a 200-seat affair that was launched by a local government eager to bring extra culture to the area. Yes, it’s an ideal spot to watch Moonraker but you’re more likely to catch an animation, comedy or even an occasional doc here. The organisers, Cinemoving, also operate a mobile screen out of a van to reach more far flung parts of the city. Could gondola cinema be next? Phil de Semlyen

Sun Pictures
Sun Pictures
Photograph: Brett Barnett (Broome Wedding photography by Brett Barnett) www.brettbarnett.com

37. Sun Pictures, Broome

The world’s oldest cinema is in France, but more surprisingly Australia lays claim to its oldest outdoor screen. Broome, on the coast of Western Australia, is home to this deeply mellow picture garden. It was originally set up by a local pearler and screened its first movie in 1916 (a British silent called Kissing Cup). Since then, it’s survived wartime bombing, some big weather events, and is currently busy surviving the advent of Netflix. There’s old projectors on display, alongside portraits of matinée stars like Lon Chaney and Thomas Gomez. Outside, the deckchairs, tin roof, century-old floorboards and Hollywood sign lend an intoxicating sense of cinema’s golden age given an Aussie twist. Phil de Semlyen

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Summer Nights
Summer Nights
Photograph: Graham Lucas

36. Summer Nights, Derbyshire

Derbyshire is home to oft-used period movie locales like the Peak District and Chatsworth House, which means it’s basically the epicentre of the British film industry’s bonnet-industrial complex. Adding actual movies to all this National Trust gentility is Quad, a cinema and arts space in Derby, that has been running stately home screens for a decade. Calke Abbey, a grade I-listed country pile, was one of the first, showing feelgood flicks in the shadow of some serious 17th century splendour. Other picturesque locations include Wollaton Hall, the actual Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises – a film that was screened at the venue. Phil de Semlyen

Cine Manto
Cine Manto
Photograph: Cine Manto

35. Cine Manto, Mykonos

Running from June of the end of September, this tree-shaded open-air space is part-cinema, part-botanic gardens. Aside from a big screen, it boasts a bunch of friendly cats, a pond full of koi carp, goldfish, waterlilies, and a 200-year-old cactus. Seriously, what more could you ask for? It’s like when we used to see movies in 3D, except the third dimension here is furry and will paw you halfway through the film. There are 180 seats in its arbor and a restaurant terrace to camp out on for a mid-screening souvlaki. The programme leans toward Hollywood crowd pleasers. It’d be a tough crowd not just to be pleased to be here. Phil de Semlyen

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Kreuzberg Open-Air Cinema
Kreuzberg Open-Air Cinema
Photograph: © Robin Kirchner

34. Kreuzberg Open-Air Cinema, Berlin

A former Prussian military hospital and a squatters’ paradise in the ’70s, Bethanien is now an arts space in Berlin’s ultra-hip Kreuzberg. It’s also the backdrop for a summer cinema that draws filmgoers from across the city for arthouse flicks on the grass. Outdoor cinema – ‘freiluftkino’ – has been big in Berlin since the ’80s (though the earliest dates back to 1913) and the city now boasts more than a dozen open-air screens, from the giant Freiluftkino Friedrichshain or Freiluftkino Rehberge to tiny backyard affairs. This one, which uniquely shows all films in their original language with subtitles, is definitely the grandest. Phil de Semlyen

Pluk de Nacht
Pluk de Nacht
Photograph: Jurriaan Esmeijer

33. Pluk de Nacht, Amsterdam

Buzzy indie films from around the world are the order of the day at this cool AF outdoor film festival, the biggest of its kind in the Netherlands. Pluk de Nacht (‘Seize the Night’) sets up camp every summer in Utrecht and at Amsterdam’s Stenen Hoofd, a small hook of land that juts out into the city’s northern harbour. It’s an industrial space that young Amsterdammers flock to in their droves to watch recent releases like The Souvenir or The Assistant. In normal times, it regularly spills out into parties fuelled by the neighbouring bars and food trucks. The screenings are free, you just have to rent the deckchair. Zeer goed. Phil de Semlyen

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Gare aux Docs
Gare aux Docs
Photograph: © Simon Lemarchand

32. Gare aux Docs, Paris

The Petite Ceinture is a pretty magical place. This abandoned railway track loops around the edge of Paris and has been out of service so long that it now resembles more of a forest. Up in the 18th arrondissement, La Recyclerie is a café, bar, restaurant and farm located in a former station on the network. Every summer, it also hosts an excellent open-air film festival on the tracks just beneath the station building. The programme usually includes around 20 documentaries, many with a political or environmental bent. The screenings are cosy, intimate events that aren’t easily forgotten. Houssine Bouchama

 

Rooftop Film Club
Rooftop Film Club
Photograph: Kimmi Cranes

31. Rooftop Cinema Club, Los Angeles

Somehow it took out-of-towners to perfect the outdoor cinema in LA. Rooftop has spawned many copycats since it arrived in 2015 (initially atop the Montalbán) but the comfy London export continues to outclass the competition. Yes, La La Land and A Star is Born are on heavy rotation, but so too are Moonlight, Romeo + Juliet and Sunset Boulevard – a nod to the street its swanky NeueHouse Hollywood terrace overlooks. Want to really dial in to a screening of Lost in Translation? Then keep the provided wireless headphones on and nothing will distract you. But just feel like grabbing a drink and shooting the breeze during Bohemian Rhapsody? You won’t bother a soul. Michael Juliano

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Pioner Cinema
Pioner Cinema
Photograph: Pioner Cinema

30. Gorky Park, Moscow

In the west, it was made famous by Euro mullet-rockers The Scorpions and every single spy novel ever, but Muscovites know Gorky Park as a prime spot for outdoor cinema: In the ‘30s it has a 20,000-seat outdoor theatre with a screen so monstrous it was literally called ‘Giant’. The Green Theatre is long gone but outdoor cinema lives on in the park. Local indie cinema Pioner has run screenings in a tree-lined nook a few hundred yards from the Moskva River, while there’s now also a permanent screen a kilometer or so away in Muzeon Park of Arts. Films are almost always screened in Russian with subtitles, making this a heck of a place to see Alfred Hitchcock’s Psikhopat. Phil de Semlyen

Open Air Cinema Kamari
Open Air Cinema Kamari
Photograph: Open Air Cinema Kamari

29. Open Air Cinema Kamari, Santorini

Outdoor theatre is a staple in the land of Sophocles and Aristophanes, natch, but alfresco cinema has been big here too since the 1920s when silent films would be accompanied by gramophone or a piano player. On Santorini, this garden cinema has been running since 1987, plying locals and tourists with strawberry daiquiris and mojitos, wowing them with sexy lighting and then entertaining them with Hollywood blockbusters and regular Mamma Mia! runs – for €8 a pop. The screenings, which are in English with Greek subtitles, kick off at 9.30pm. The Abba singalongs start at 9.32pm. Phil de Semlyen

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Sotto Le Stelle Del Cinema
Sotto Le Stelle Del Cinema
Photograph: Lorenzo Burlando/Cineteca di Bologna

28. Sotto Le Stelle Del Cinema, Bologna

Historically, all the important stuff in Bologna has happened in or around Piazza Maggiore. And if you’re a movie lover, that’s still the case thanks to an outdoor screen that tempts locals out into the tandoor-like July heat for free screenings of films as varied as The Getaway, Orlando and The Blues Brothers. Hometown hero Pier Paolo Pasolini is another programme regular, while Hollywood giants have been known to stop by (Francis Ford Coppola introduced his Apocalypse Now restoration here). Across town, the smaller Piazzetta Pasolini hosts another outdoor cinema dedicated to silent films. ‘La Dotta’ is truly a cinephile’s paradise. Phil de Semlyen

West Beach (Film) Festival
West Beach (Film) Festival
Photograph: Marlise Steeman

27. West Beach (Film) Festival, Amsterdam

The In Rainbows of outdoor cinemas, West Beach Film Festival has a ‘pay as you like’ policy aimed at making it accessible for all budgets. Those who can are encouraged to chip in to cover the costs of a wider arts gathering that gives a platform to local artists beyond the screenings (hence the ‘film’ bit is in brackets). It’s held in the Sloterparkbad, a once-rough area that’s tilted towards gentrification in recent years. On any given night, you might see Baby Driver, Parasite or Dr. Strangelove in a lakeside spot that’s lit up in candy colours as the sun falls. Phil de Semlyen

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Amante Ibiza
Amante Ibiza
Photograph: @Amante Ibiza

26. Amante, Ibiza

Ibiza isn’t just about clubheads largin’ it in San Antonio. Sometimes, they’ll head down to this secluded cove on the island’s east coast to recover with an unimaginably chilled movie night at this beach restaurant. The 40-seat screen is a relative rarity on the island – Ibiza is surprisingly light on outdoor cinemas – and wildly popular with romantic types looking for arguably the definitive movie date night. Expect to see the likes of Saturday Night Fever, Almost Famous and Point Break. Palm trees on one side, azure water on the other, Johnny Utah in the middle? It’s the ultimate rush. Phil de Semlyen

Cameo Outdoor
Cameo Outdoor
Photograph: Cameo Outdoor

25. Cameo Outdoor, Australia

With views of Victoria’s Dandenong hills, this screen outside Melbourne feels like a walk on the wild side. Albeit one with all the creature comforts you’d expect from a tszujy cinema chain like Australia’s Cameo. The programming is top-notch, too. Expect to see everything from Almost Famous to Z, via Hitchcock seasons and even silent movies. The refreshments menu is pretty diverse too, with Swiss cheese toasties, schooners of Yarra Valley cider, sangria in the summer months, and ten flavours of that Aussie moviegoing staple, the choc-top. You can even bring your dog along (though you’ll have to provide your own scooby snacks). Phil de Semlyen

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isola del cinema
isola del cinema
Photograph: Luca Dammicco

24. L’Isola del Cinema, Rome

The only island on the Tiber in Rome, Isola Tiberina is a boat-shaped patch of medieval history that hosts the annual Isola del Cinema film festival between June and September. There’s actually two screens, including a cosy 100-seater, but it’s the 600-seat arena backdropped by Rome’s oldest bridge, Ponte Fabricio, that’s the top spot. Expect European directors and actors to swing by to entertain elegant Romans with their latest features and shorts as the sun goes down over the Eternal City. If Federico Fellini directed outdoor cinemas, they’d look like this one. Phil de Semlyen

Perth Festival Film
Perth Festival Film
Photograph: Jessica Wyld

23. Perth Film Festival, Perth

Fancy watching a film in a forest? The Perth Film Festival has your bark. It’s made this gorgeous, shady dell at the University of Western Australia its home since 1953. Somerville’s ‘cathedral of pine trees’ was planted for an outdoor entertainment venue way back in 1927, and that kind of genius-level foresight is matched by an expertly curated festival programme full of world cinema and arthouse gems. Between November and April, picnicking crowds descend to soak them up from the deckchairs or beanbags. Phil de Semlyen

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Cinema Lliure a la Platja
Cinema Lliure a la Platja
Photograph: Juliana Spadano

22. Cinema Lliure a la Platja, Catalonia

Blocking the horizon is an old and majestic tower, the remains of a medieval castle that makes watching a movie at Tossa de Mar a magical experience. And there’s movie lore in the warm Costa Brava air here too: This was where Ava Gardner shot Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. The actress fell in love with the place – and, incidentally, with the bullfighter Mario Cabré, but that’s another story – and the village with her. To commemorate the shoot, a statue of the Hollywood star was placed with its gaze towards the same beach where the Cinema Lliure screening takes place. Oh, and all the films here are free. María José Gómez

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Photograph: Denver Arts & Venues

21. Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado

Fancy seeing Rocky in the Rockies? The geological gem that is Red Rocks Amphitheatre, just outside Denver, is the place to head to. Nature’s answer to Imax, this 300-million-year-old colosseum is bookended by two ginormous boulders, Ship Rock and Creation Rock, and carved from red sandstone that glows at the magic hour. It’s a geologist’s paradise – and a music and movie lover’s one too. As a gig venue, it’s hosted The Beach Boys and The Beatles, and when Film on the Rocks’ big screen goes up, co-programmers Denver Film help keep the vibe alive with dress-up screenings of Ghostbusters and Top Gun beach-ball-athons. Phil de Semlyen

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Sala Montjuïc
Sala Montjuïc
Photograph: Sala Montjuïc

20. Sala Montjuïc, Barcelona

This open-air cinema pops up every summer within the mighty walls of 17th century Montjuïc Castle atop one of Barcelona’s two mountains. You can either sit on the grass or rent a hammock; bring a picnic or pick something up from one of the food stalls. The program tends to keep things pretty current, so expect to see big releases from the past year or two. There’s even a small concert on the stage before each movie. Una delicia! Erica Aspas

Rooftop Film Club
Rooftop Film Club
Photograph: Tom Nicholson

19. Rooftop Film Club, London

Watching the sun go down on London from the roof of Peckham’s Bussey Building is a CinemaScope-like experience. It’s probably worth the ticket price to this rooftop screen on its own, although the set-up isn’t shabby either, with deckchairs to sink into, blankets to wrap up in, and genuine special occasion vibes to bask in. The programming philosophy is best described as popcorn with a cinéaste twist, so expect to see everything from classics like Casablanca and Pulp Fiction to more recent hits like Black Panther and, yes, The Greatest Showman. Phil de Semlyen

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Fort Mason Flicks
Fort Mason Flicks
Photograph: Charles Villyard

18. Fort Mason Flicks, San Francisco

Now here’s where to watch Vertigo or The Rock. San Francisco’s inspired drive-in location, former army base Fort Mason, offers a madly panoramic view across the bay, Alcatraz to the right, the Golden Gate Bridge to the left. It’s enough to distract you from the movie – or it would be, if the movie line-up wasn’t usually so chock full of gems. Expect to see classics like Casablanca, family faves like Happy Feet, and culty nostalgia-thons like So I Married An Axe Murderer. In non-Covid years, expect to see food trucks parked up too. Phil de Semlyen

Luna Cinema
Luna Cinema
Photograph: Robert Smael

17. Luna Cinema, Blenheim Palace

Despite the famously maverick weather, outdoor cinema is now as much a part of the British summer as Pimm’s, Wimbledon and pretending to understand cricket. When did this happen? In about 2010, when someone decided that the country’s country houses and castles would make excellent places to watch movies – and how right they were. From Cardiff Castle to Chatsworth House, the landed gentry have locked up the family silver and welcomed in film lovers to kickstart this alchemy of historic grandeur and big-screen spectacle. The pick of the bunch has to be Blenheim Palace: a movie star in its own right – it’s appeared in everything from Harry Potter to Transformers – and a fairly wondrous spot to take a break from Netflix. Phil de Semlyen

 

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DokuFest
DokuFest
Photograph: Samir Karahoda

16. Fortress Cinema, Kosovo

There are no cheap seats on the battlements of Prizren’s medieval fortress, where DokuFest welcomes an international crowd for a week impactful docs and shorts every August. The festival was originally set up by a group of friends back in 2003, but a shout out also has to go to whichever member of the Byzantium Empire designed a spot for outdoor cinema quite this dreamy. This purpose-built platform overlooking the city – Kino Kalaja or ‘Fortress Cinema’ – is complemented by a bigger arena inside the fortress. When the credits roll, it’s about grabbing a bottle of the local lager, Peja, and moseying down the hill for one of the afterparties. Phil de Semlyen

Peroni Sunset Cinema
Peroni Sunset Cinema
Photograph: Peroni Sunset Cinema

15. Peroni Sunset Cinema, Singapore

This under-the-stars cinematic experience has been drawing crowds to Singapore’s Sentosa Island since 2017. Set on Tanjong Beach’s white sands, it screens a selection of Oscar-worthy films against an idyllic backdrop, complete with swaying palm trees. Guests can soak it all up while lounging in comfy deck chairs with wireless noise-cancelling headphones for a truly immersive experience – think silent disco, but for cinema. Making the most of the balmy evenings, it also has a pre-show live DJ set, coastal cuisine from nearby Tanjong Beach Club, and of course, ice-cold beers to indulge in. It almost always sells out, and you can see why. Cam Khalid

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Wavelength
Wavelength
Photograph: Wavelength Media

14. Wavelength Drive-In, Cornwall

Great as they can be, drive-in cinemas are often pretty fugly. This one, perched on Cornwall’s clifftops, is the exception to the rule – an Atlantic-coast eyrie that welcomes locals for crowd-pleasing movies, live music and Cornish ales about 400 feet above the crashing waves. It’s all the brainchild of respected surf mag Wavelength, which sets up home for the summer near the surfing haven of Newquay and hits multiple sweet spots with screenings of Endless Summer, Point Break and underappreciated Sean Pertwee classic Blue Juice. If you want the ultimate, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price: which is a fiver per person or £25 for a car or camper. Phil de Semlyen

Summer Screens
Summer Screens
Photograph: Summer Screens

13. Summer Screens, Gloucestershire

The closest you’ll get to watching a movie at Winterfell, this open-air screen sits adjacent to the ruins of Richard III’s banqueting hall at Gloucestershire’s imposing Sudeley Castle. It’s a Game of Thrones-y showcase for organisers Summer Screens’s USP of starlit cinema at unusual English venues, that also includes Coventry Cathedral, Reading Abbey Ruins, and one or two posh public schools. The banqueting these days is less all-you-can-eat boar buffets, swan cutlets and mead, and more loaded nachos, popcorn and passion-fruit martinis. And there are no beheadings these days – not even for talking during the film. Phil de Semlyen

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Locarno Film Festival
Locarno Film Festival
Photograph: ©LocarnoFilmFestival/Luca Dieguez

12. Piazza Grande, Locarno

Every August, the Locarno Film Festival descends on this Italian-Swiss lakeside town. Since the 1970s, one of the film festival’s highlights has been the daily evening screening in the enormous Piazza Grande of one of the films playing in the festival. The screen is huge, the square is enormous and above is the clear, twinkling night sky (as long as one of the area’s notorious electrical storms doesn’t roll in). The square can accommodate up to 8000 and has played host to films including I, Daniel Blake, The Lives of Others and Bend It Like Beckham. Watching them with such a massive, passionate crowd is a lingering experience. Dave Calhoun

Film4 Summer Screen
Film4 Summer Screen
Photograph: Somerset House

11. Somerset House, London

A kind of riverside citadel of culture, London’s Somerset House hosts everything from arts exhibitions to gigs and even an ice rink in the winter months. But August is all about Film4 Summer Screen, when the neoclassical courtyard plays host to film-loving Londoners for an afterwork screening. The space is special and, thanks to expert curation and a few filmmaker fans, the movies usually are too. It’s the place Pedro Almodóvar will come to introduce his latest film. One thing: the cobbles are famously unforgiving, so bring a cushion, or rent a beanbag or director’s chair, or you won’t feel your bum for weeks. Phil de Semlyen

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Mies van der Rohe Pavilion
Mies van der Rohe Pavilion
Photograph: @annamas

10. Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona

Okay, it’s not the most comfortable, and you’ll find better sound systems elsewhere, but few open-air cinemas can compete with the Mies Pavilion’s film screenings. This architectural gem was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich as the German pavilion for Barcelona’s International Exhibition in 1929. It was demolished a year later, but in 1986 it was rebuilt in Montjuïc, its original location. And for the past few years it has hosted Pantalla Pavelló: runs of films related to architecture that are projected on its travertine marble wall and watched by the audiences dotted around the pond. Magic. María José Gómez

The Galileo
The Galileo
Photograph: The Galileo

9. Galileo Open Air Cinema, Cape Town

Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Gardens, an eden on the slopes of Table Mountain scented with proteas and erica flowers, is dubbed ‘the gardener’s garden’ (©Alan Titchmarsh). So that makes Galileo Open Air Cinema here ‘the outdoor-cinema lover’s outdoor cinema’. Galileo also runs drive-in cinemas (you watch films tailgate-style in South Africa) and beach and hotel screens, but the don is here on Thursdays: a sunset picnic on the lawn followed by a movie. Is it an awesome place to watch The Notebook? Yes, it is. Do people get so swept up in the romance of the place, there have been actual marriage proposals? That too. Has Ryan Gosling acted as celebrant on the big day? No. Phil de Semlyen

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Skyline Drive-in
Skyline Drive-in
Photograph: Skyline Drive-in

8. The Skyline Drive-in, New York

A pandemic-era addition to America’s pantheon of drive-in cinemas, Brooklyn’s Skyline is a ridiculously well-situated newcomer that puts more established drive-ins to shame with its views across the East River. The films on offer need to be pretty special to pull focus from Manhattan’s twinkly skyscrapers, and sure enough, the programming has a refreshingly adventurous feel. You’ll see everything from Die Hard to Drag Me to Hell, with the odd new release thrown in. Cars aren’t even an essential, with seats available to the vehicle-free. Phil de Semlyen

Arene de Pula
Arene de Pula
Photograph: Dusko Marusic

7. Arene de Pula, Croatia

Surely someone has screened Gladiator in this Roman amphitheatre in northwest Croatia? If not, they’re missing a trick. Pula was once a major Roman port and the highlight of the modern city’s copious ruins is this Colosseum-like structure, one of the best preserved in the world, where long ago crowds would cheer at the blood, gore and terror of gladiatorial combat. Nowadays, they get their kicks from the big screen when the annual Pula Film Festival sets up stall in the arena. It’s an outdoor cinema the like of which its original creators could simply not imagine. Dave Calhoun

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Rathausplatz
Rathausplatz
Photograph: ©stadtwienmarketing

6. Rathausplatz, Vienna

The city of Mozart, Schubert, and to a lesser extent, Falco, is always going to keep in tune with its musical heritage. Sure enough, every summer this outdoor-cinema-loving city plays host to an annual Music Film Festival in the city centre’s imposing Rathausplatz (‘town hall square’). Between July and September, locals can catch free screenings of Offenbach operas and Rolling Stones gigs in the shadow of the gothic town hall, tucking into currywurst, Viennese dumplings or other foodie treats from the stalls in the square. Phil de Semlyen

Cinéma de la Plage
Cinéma de la Plage
Photograph: Festival de Cannes

5. Cinéma de la Plage, Cannes

A screen with sand in its toes, the Cannes Film Festival’s beachfront Cinéma de la Plage has been welcoming locals, film industry types, night owls, and the odd seagull to its nocturnal screenings since 2001. As the town parties down the beach, diehard film lovers will head down for an Ang Lee or Agnès Varda flick. There are 800 seats and the screenings are free for all, making it an inclusive celebration of cinema at the world’s most famous film festival. There’s even a karaoke night to bring down the curtain. What's ‘Wonderwall’ in French? Phil de Semlyen

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Cinespia
Cinespia
Photograph: Courtesy Kelly Lee Barrett/Cinespia

4. Cinespia, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles

All the cool kids picnic in a cemetery each summer thanks to LA alfresco darling Cinespia. You’re not actually trampling any gravestones: Attendees roll out blankets on a grassy event lawn to watch a film projected onto a mausoleum. But the silver screen ghosts are certainly all around you – after all, this is where Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Cecil B DeMille were laid to rest. Cinespia is anything but dusty, though. The line-ups are heavy on Hitchcock, Miyazaki and Gen X cult favorites, and each comes paired with a photo booth set-up (think a lip couch for The Rocky Horror Picture Show) or an elaborate afterparty (a post-Purple Rain dance party or Mad Max: Fury Road capped off with fireworks). Michael Juliano

Cine Thisio
Cine Thisio
Photograph: Cine Thisio

3. Cine Thisio, Athens

Athenians love many things – democracy, culture, a rich variety of columns – but in the summer, what they’re really into is watching a movie as the sun sets on their ancient city. In the ‘60s, there were more than 600 outdoor cinemas here. Nowadays, it’s closer to a hundred, of which Cine Thisio is the best-situated with its super-sexy backdrop (yes, that is the Acropolis) and location among the city’s archaeological treasures. Locals will sip on sour cherry cocktails and tsipouro as the projector fires up a range of blockbusters and awardsy fare. Athens outdoor cinema is not a bank-breaking hobby, either. Tickets come in at €6-8. Phil de Semlyen

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Westpac OpenAir
Westpac OpenAir
Photograph: Fiora Sacco

2. Westpac OpenAir, Sydney

A movie needs to really land when it has to compete with Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge all doing their jaw-dropping thing in the background. Then again, if you do catch a dud, there’s always the lights twinkling on the water and the fruit bats flying overhead to ensure a trip to this breathtaking screen in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens is a memorable one. You can order bottle of bubbles to wash down a picnic box as you settle in for an evening watching everything from the latest blockbusters to vintage classics. It’s a genuinely unforgettable experience. Stephen A Russell

Hollywood Bowl
Hollywood Bowl
Photograph: Adam Latham

1. Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles

An evening at the Hollywood Bowl is the most enchanting experience in LA, and the nearly century-old amphitheatre’s strength lies in its live-scored movies. For less than the price of a multiplex ticket (and with a generous BYOB policy), you can park yourself on a bench seat and bawl your eyes out (again, the wine) as John Williams’s E.T. score crescendos. The maestro’s compositions factor heavily into the LA Philharmonic and resident Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s repertoire, while Williams himself has often conducted concerts here. Oh, and the annual The Sound of Music singalong is a riot. Michael Juliano

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