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Mov'in Boat1/3
Photograph: Supplied/Mov'in Boat
Mov'in Bed Cinema2/3
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Westpac Openair Cinema3/3
Photograph: Fiora Sacco

The best outdoor cinemas in Sydney

You're spoiled for choice when it comes to watching flicks in the open air when the mercury starts to rise in Sydney

By Time Out editors
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Feel like enjoying a film in a park, by the water, or even on 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 – 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 check out these engaging Indigenous walks and tours

RECOMMENDED: The best ocean pools in Sydney.

Sydney's most scenic outdoor movie screenings

Boat lined up in the harbour for floating cinema
Photograph: Supplied/Mov'in Boat

Mov'in Boat Floating Cinema

Things to do Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour

Mov'in Bed is upping the ante on summer movie-going this year, transforming into Mov'in Boat, bringing a fun (and socially distanced) floating cinema to the harbour. Kicking off on December 3, the water-bound season will run until March 21, 2021. Head out onto the lapping harbour waters via rowboat ($119.90 for up to four people – or just you and your date), lie back in a plush day bed on a floating pontoon ($99.90 for two people and $109.90 for three), or go full luxury with the VIP option. It's $149.90 for two people and $169.90 for three and you'll get umbrellas, popcorn and access to an exclusive bar, as well as the option to order a sumptuous fine dining spread from Star restaurants like Sokyo (your go-to for melt-in-your-mouth sushi), Black Bar and Grill (juicy steaks aplenty) or Flying Fish (for a real waterfront extravaganza). It all kicks off on December 3 with romantic classic Dirty Dancing. Over the season,you can see heart-wrencher Lion, romantic swoon-fest Casablanca and quirky rom-com The Broken Hearts Gallery, as well as a whole lot more. Check here for the full season. 

People sitting at the Bondi Pavillion for outdoor screenings at Flickerfest.
Photograph: Supplied

Flickerfest

Film Film festivals Bondi Beach, Bondi Beach

This annual celebration of short films has 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. In 2021, Flickerfest will show more than 200 shorts in both the fancy surrounds of the Famous Spiegeltent, and a glam outdoor cinema under the stars in the Flickerfest festival garden on Bondi Beach near the pavilion.  

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A wide shot of the crowd sitting down in front of the large scre
Photograph: Moonlight Cinema

Moonlight Cinema

Film Outdoor cinema Centennial Parklands, Centennial Park

Pack your picnic baskets, because Sydney’s favourite outdoor cinema experience is returning to Centennial Park. After months of being cooped up inside, we’re super-pumped for the return of movies outdoors, as steamy hot summer nights set into the city’s sun-baked streets. The program kicks off with Pulp Fiction on November 26, with Tenet, starring Robert Pattinson, John David Washington, and Elizabeth Debicki on December 2. Sundays are for superheroes, including Oscar-winner Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Homegrown hero Hugh Jackman will also strap on his tippity tappity shoes for a rousing rendition of The Greatest Showman (Dec 8) and, of course, with Christmas rapidly approaching, the love/hate opinion columns will be unleashed once more when the other beloved Hugh, Mr Grant, shows up in Love, Actually (Dec 16 and 18).

 

Sunset Cinema North Sydney
Photograph: Supplied

Sunset Cinema

Film Outdoor cinema North Sydney Oval, North Sydney

North Sydney Oval, with its historic grandstand and views of the lights of North Sydney, is a classy venue for outdoor cinema screenings, and Sunset Cinema will kick off a new, socially distanced ten-week season on January 15. Gates open at 6.30pm with films commencing at sundown, and a range of food and beverages is available. Join the Sunset Cinema Movie Club to get early bird ticket discounts, news, promotions and other prizes. Highlights of the program include Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984; Tom Hanks in western News of the World; Eric Bana in outback thriller The Dry; Carey Mulligan in the controversial Promising Young Woman; and Anne Hathaway in Roald Dahl's The Witches. Favourite movies taking a curtain call during the season include the original Star Wars; Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away from Studio Ghibli; Livvy and Travolta in Grease; and somewhat inevitably, Dirty Dancing (joking, we love it). 

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Westpac Openair Cinema
Photograph: Fiora Sacco

Westpac OpenAir

Film Outdoor cinema Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney

AACTA Award winner Eric Bana will walk the red carpet on December 15 when Westpac OpenAir returns to Mrs Macquaries Point with the Opera House and Bridge as the staggering backdrop. The full program drops on November 30, but for now, consider us super excited to finally get our eyes on opening night movie The Dry. Adapted from the mega best-selling crime thriller novel by Jane Harper, the film stars Bana as financial investigator Aaron Falk, who gets embroiled in a shocking murder when he returns to his rural hometown. It also stars Genevieve O’Reilly, Miranda Tapsell, Keir O’Donnell and Matt Nable. The perfect kick-off to a summer season of popcorn-ready films by the water. Stay tuned for more major announcements soon. You can sign up for the newsletter here. The first round of tickets goes on sale at 9am on Thursday, December 10, and it's always a big selling drawcard, so don't dilly-dally.

Skyline Drive-In Blacktown
Photograph: Supplied

Skyline Drive-In Blacktown

Film Prospect

Enjoy all the Christmas movies you can manage with Sydney’s dedicated drive-in cinema this December. From Home Alone to The Grinch, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to Elf. And of course they will also be showing Bruce Willis' time-honoured addition to the holidays, Die Hard, because sometimes the silly season needs more mayhem. We love the joint's en pointe 1950s theme, with diner food like hamburgers, hot dogs, shakes and banana splits served by staff in era-appropriate costume. And yes, you can honk your horn to festive fave Love, Actually.

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A person and a dog at an outdoor cinema.
Photograph: Supplied

American Express Openair Cinemas Inner West

Film Outdoor cinema

Cadigal Green, on the south-of-King-Street side of the University of Sydney, will host a new season of American Express Openair Cinemas for a month-long session from Jan 4 2021-February 2. Even better, they actively welcome patrons in possession of four legs, with dogs basically treated like VIPS, which is a major plus in our books adn means no puppy sooks will you indulge in popcorn time. The line-up includes festive new releases as well as big blockbuster screenings we’ve been waiting to watch all year. 

We love wide open green spaces

People sitting in the Botanic Gardens Sydney at sunset
People sitting in the Botanic Gardens Sydney at sunset
Photograph: Supplied

Where to find the best Sydney parks

Attractions Parks and gardens

Whether you’re in need of a green garden to laze in during lunch or a just quiet spot away from the city, these Sydney parks have sprawling open spaces, free barbecues and shaded corners to while away an afternoon.

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