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Ten London movie pop-ups to try before you die (or leave London)

Here are ten ways to have a ridiculously good time at the movies in London

By Cath Clarke

There are more ways to enjoy a movie than ever. Whether you want to watch a movie under the stars, impress a first date or cosy down at the cinema in your jim-jams, Londoners are spoilt for choice. These are the best immersive film events. 

The best London cinema experiences

Edible Cinema
David Tett

1. Taste a film at Edible Cinema

It’s not cheap but Edible Cinema is a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. Each guest gets a tray of mystery boxes containing bite-sized gourmet morsels concocted to enhance key moments in the film you’re watching (for example, a Camberwell carrot during ‘Withnail & I’). It’s amazing how much it brings the film to life. The next event is ‘Some Like It Hot’ at the East Dulwich Picturehouse on May 15 (£36 each). Tickets sell fast.


4. Cosy down in your pyjamas at the Prince Charles

Six films. Twelve hours. A room full of strangers in their jim-jams. Party games. A mountain of sugary sweets. If this sounds like your idea of movie heaven, all-nighters at the Prince Charles Cinema (just off Leicester Square) are for you. Past extravaganzas have been themed around teen movies and horror flicks. Next up is fantasy, with screenings of ‘Labyrinth’, ‘The Princess Bride’, ‘The Dark Crystal’ and three more classics on June 25.

Secret Cinema does Star Wars
© Mike Massaro

5. Lose yourself at Secret Cinema

Secret Cinema is the original immersive film experience, but is it still the best? The haters say that productions have become overblown and tickets overpriced. We were a little underwhelmed by the most recent event, ‘Dr Strangelove’. But last summer’s ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was spectacular, the cinematic experience of the year. And we’re excited to see what they’ll do with Danny Boyle’s apocalyptic zombie flick ‘28 Days Later’, which is showing from Thursday (until May 29). Secret Cinema is also booking ‘Dirty Dancing’ for the summer.

Pillow Cinema
Todd Pacey

7. Snuggle up at Pillow Cinema

Is this London’s quirkiest film pop-up? Pillow Cinema gives you the full moviegoing experience with all the comfort of watching a film in bed. It operates a strict BYOP (bring your own pillow) policy, blankets are provided and you can rent king-size beanbags. Starting on Sunday, Pillow Cinema will be popping up at Sutton House, the National Trust’s house in Hackney, screening ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, ‘Brooklyn’ and more.

courtesy The Water Poet

8. Get nerdy at an obscure film club

In theatres, galleries and the back rooms of pubs, London’s thriving film club scene offers leftfield obscurities at reasonable prices, plus the chance to argue it out over a pint afterwards. These guys do it best: The Duke Mitchell Film Club at the Phoenix Artists Club, Science Fiction Theatre at The Victoria pub in Dalston and the Overlook Screening Room at The Water Poet pub in Spitalfields.


9. Watch a double bill at the original London picture palace

In 1896, the Lumière Brothers made cinematic history with a demo of their new invention at the Royal Polytechnic Institution, the first in the UK. Last year, the building was restored to its former art-deco picture-palace glory, as the Regent Street Cinema. There’s no better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than curling up with a glass of red and a pair of Hitchcocks, Chaplins or Marlene Dietrichs.

10. See a movie the way it was meant to be seen at Close-Up

There’s nothing quite like hearing the whirr of a projector as you settle into your cinema seat. The Close-Up in Bethnal Green is one of London’s newest film hangouts, with a café, a library of 19,000 films (unlimited rental for just £10 a month) and a snug screening room showing old-school masterpieces on 35mm film. This is the place to brush up on your Bergman, Polanski and Kubrick.

Film events in London this week

The best film events in London this week


Every week, we round up the best film events happening outside London’s multiplexes, from major international film festivals to classic seasons at the BFI, from double bills and all-nighters to one-off screenings and in person Q&As with stars, filmmakers or experts. London also has a thriving DIY film club scene in pubs, restaurants, galleries and pop-up venues, and in the summer months you’ll find a wealth of outdoor screenings in parks and gardens across the city.


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