The Institute of Light

Cinemas, Independent South Hackney
3 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
The Institute of Light Cinema
The Institute of Light

Phones – like taking off your shoes – are a cinema no-no. But you’ll struggle to contain the urge to splurge on social media after a trip to the Institute of Light’s cinema in London Fields. Tucked away under the arches of the railway line, the space is all bare brickwork and eclectic furniture – from mid-century sofas to three rows of vintage aeroplane seats. At weekends, the space doubles as a vinyl store for the independent record label BBE, and there’s a restaurant, bar and bookshop out the front.


Venue name: The Institute of Light
Address: Arch 376, 10 Helmsley Place
E8 3SB
Transport: London Fields Overground
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

I have tried twice now to buy tickets ahead of time in person, and both times I was given different excuses as to why I couldn't. On both occasions the staff were preoccupied with other matters. Yesterday I was told to wait as they were filming something there. On the first occasion when I walked in there were just a couple of people cleaning and I had to actively seek out someone to speak to. In my impression they seem more preoccupied with being trendy than providing any sort of basic service.


The Institute of Light is a real hidden gem, tucked underneath an underground line and 2 minutes from London Fields station (did someone say ideal location?). 

I bought tickets to a "Pitch Black Playback" event that involved listening to an album in full, in a pitch black darkness (including a branded eye mask). The ticket? £5. Not only good value but a really cool event and interesting experience - especially for a music lover!

I didn't even realise until I was there that it was also a cafe/bar and fully operational cinema (awesome, awesome vibes). Because it's tucked away on a back road it has a real secret vibe, like you've stumbled upon a well-kept secret. I imagine the outdoor space would be awesome to grab a pint on a mid-week evening.

Highly recommend for an alternative date spot!


The Institute of Light combines a bar and restaurant out the front and a cute little cinema out back. It's is a really cool space, and the cinema space also doubles up as a shop during the day. Movie tickets are super value too and the gentle rumblings of the trains passing above only add to the atmosphere on the whole (though this may not be so great for really quite films!).

Rumour has it that it's owned by one of the founders of Secret Cinema. While it hasn't been open that long it already feels well established, though is still very much under the radar. While it's slowing becoming more widely known it's still very much 'hidden gem' material.