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Moonlight Cinema crowds at twilight in Centennial Park
Photograph: SuppliedMoonlight Cinema in Centennial Park

The best outdoor cinemas in Sydney this summer

With the mercury rising in Sydney just in time for the (second) great unlock, we share all our fave places to watch films under the stars

Alannah Maher
Written by
Time Out editors
&
Alannah Maher
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We love a cinema in Sydney, we do have some really beautiful picture houses, but you know what's even better than sitting in a darkend room mainlining movies during summer? Sitting outside under the stars!

Feel like enjoying a film in a park, on a rooftop, or by the water? From blockbusters to tearjerkers, rom-coms to thrillers, you can catch them all in the great outdoors across the city thanks to a proliferation of popcorn-offering spots popping up across the city. 

Bring a rug and some snacks (or buy them from handy pop-up eateries) and settle in with the fam, a mate, or a date – some cinemas will even let you bring your dog!

While you're planning your summer adventures, organise a trek to these majestic waterfalls near Sydney or the most beautiful walks around Sydney.

Sydney's most scenic outdoor movie screenings

  • Film
  • Outdoor cinema
  • Sydney

Westpac OpenAir returns to Mrs Macquaries Point in January with the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as its staggering backdrop. Pull up a folding chair, grab a snack (or an entire bottle of Champagne, ice bucket and all) and settle down to a film projected on a huge screen which starts running as night begins to fall over the harbour. Looking to be fed and watered? The selection here is a step up from your average cinema candy bar. Kitchen by Mike is doing a Mexican BBQ twist on his movie night boxes and lighter picnic menu, and leading local DJs will be setting the sunset vibe.

 

This popular outdoor cinema experience is back in action from December at the beautiful Centennial Park, as well as at the second pop-up location at Western Sydney Parklands. As ever, Moonlight Cinema is a BYO-friendly event, so pack a picnic and some bubbles on ice. If you’re famously unprepared, have no fear, there will be a phalanx of food trucks on offer and a licensed bar for libations too. And if you’re the extra AF-type, you can bling it up with Moonlight’s Gold Grass and Tia Maria Platinum options. Dogs welcome!

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  • Film
  • Outdoor cinema
  • The Rocks

The Rocks has brought back its free Laneway Cinema. Every Wednesday night they're busting out the big screen and the bean bags amongst golden sandstone buildings and cobbled lanes and food offerings aplenty. Movies include recent-ish hits like the adorable gay teen romance Love Simon and contemporary romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, so you can catch up on the ones you still haven't seen yet and re-watch your faves. 

  • Film
  • Film festivals
  • Sydney

These short films have a long, long history. Flickerfest has now been in existence for three decades, showcasing the best short films made internationally and playing an important role in global film culture by helping makers of short films reach an international audience. Films will screen in two-hour sessions at Bondi Pavilion across a range of Australian and International Academy-qualifying competitions and special showcases such as LBTQI films (Rainbow Shorts), kids and family-friendly films (FlickerKids), films about relationships (Love Bites) and comedy (Short Laughs). Flickerfest takes place January 21-30, 2022. 

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  • Film
  • Prospect

The last remaining drive-in movie theatre in the city is so popular that, on busy nights, it backs up traffic all the way along Reservoir Road and out onto the Great Western Motorway. So if you’re planning a commute past Prospect, you might want to check session times. We love the joint's en pointe 1950s theme, with diner food served by staff in era-appropriate costume. There's new blockbusters and classics flicks on the line-up, and you can even catch the odd late-night horror session, if you dare. Check the program here.

  • Film
  • Outdoor cinema
  • North Sydney

Sunset Cinema will kick off a new, socially distanced 14-week season on December 16 at North Sydney Oval. Gates open at 6.30pm with films commencing at sundown, and a range of food and beverages is available including a full bar (no BYO). Highlights include all of the major releases that have been waiting in the wings for 18 months such as acclaimed Bond epic No Time to Die; Gaga in House of Gucci; apocalyptic sci-fi Don't Look Up with Jennifer Lawrence; joyous Aretha Franklin biopic Respect; Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch; Disney's Encanto; and long-awaited sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

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