With summer on its way outdoor cinemas are brushing away the winter cobwebs and polishing their projectors in anticipation of a bumper season of movies under the stars. Balmy Aussie summers are just the ticket for open-air cinemas. Check out Skyscanner for flights to cities across Australia for outdoor movie fun.
1. Somerville Outdoor Cinema
Somerville cinema is a bit of an institution for Perth locals. Surrounded by ancient pines on the banks of the Swan River, regular moviegoers make an evening of it. Pack a picnic along with a picnic rug and set up on the grass before the sun sets. Meals and drinks are also available for purchase but that’s not nearly as much fun!
As dusk settles retreat to your sling-back canvas chairs, snuggle into the picnic blanket (or a loved one) if the Fremantle Doctor is keeping things cool and enjoy an eclectic selection of arthouse and indie movies. It’s one of Perth’s best!
Where: University of Western Australia, Perth, WA
When: December to April
Somerville Auditorium is one of Perth’s most popular for outdoor movies. Photo courtesy of Somerville Auditorium & UWA
2. Camelot Outdoor Cinema
Settle down into intimate Art Deco surrounds sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and Swan River in suburban Mosman Park. Seating is an eclectic mix of deckchairs, plump bean bags and ‘normal’ chairs plopped upon the grass. Cosy Camelot Outdoor Cinema screens the season’s best films as well as the odd special premiere screening.
Mix film with jazz or funky music on their monthly Jazz & Oyster nights and Funk Club nights. Purchase food at the venue or bring a picnic and a blanket for pre-movie munching. A licensed bar means BYO is not permitted.
Where: Mosman Park, Perth WA
Camelot Outdoor Cinema is intimate & cosy in Mosman Park. Photo courtesy of Camelot Outdoor Cinema
3. Moonlight Cinemas Perth
Set in Perth’s glorious Kings Park which is smack in the middle of the city, outdoor city cinemas rarely come more picturesque than the Moonlight Cinema Perth. An LA style Food Truck and candy bar dishes up sustenance and snacks as well as beer and wine in a natural grass amphitheatre surrounded by native bushland. Linger in the pretty setting by arriving early with a picnic hamper and a bottle of wine to beat the Perth summer heat.
New releases, family favourites and the odd walk down memory lane
Where: Kings Park, Perth WA
When: December to March
Kings Park is a stunning venue for outdoor movies over summer in Perth. Photo courtesy of Moonlight Cinemas
4. Moonlight Cinemas Port Douglas
Located poolside in the landscaped grounds of the always groovy QT Hotel at Port Douglas, enjoy balmy north Queensland nights at the flicks. Moonlight Cinemas Port Douglas films tend towards family and recent releases to cater for the mostly ‘on holidays’ crowd so it’s definitely family-friendly. Even if the film is not to your taste it’s a fabulous way to lap up tropical star-filled nights of the galactic kind.
Purchase a Gold Grass ticket for a bean bag in a premium viewing location and wait service with food and drinks served at your bean bag. Screening new releases and family classics, arrive early to enjoy north Queensland’s balmy tropical evenings.
Where: QT Hotel, Port Douglas QLD
When: June to October
Sink into bean bags for balmy tropical movie nights at Port Douglas. Photo courtesy of Moonlight Cinemas
5. Sun Cinemas Broome
A legendary cinema in the Kimberley town of Broome, Sun Pictures have been entertaining movie goers since they screened their first silent film in 1916. Back then Broome was a true frontier town built on the pearling industry with a horse-drawn tramway running between the jetty and Chinatown. Local pianist ‘Fairy’ provided melodramatic and romantic accompaniment to the silent flicks. These days, with the cinema being under the flight path of nearby Broome Airport, jet aircrafts are usually greeted with applause by movie goers.
No visit to Broome is complete without a visit to Sun Cinemas, which holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest open air cinema in operation.
Where: Broome WA
When: Open year round
Sun Pictures Broome offer a nostalgic trip into the past. Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia
6. Mareeba Drive-in
Mareeba Drive-in is an old-school drive-in theatre screening new releases on weekends while dishing up classic drive-in food such as old fashioned burgers. Located on the Atherton Tablelands west of Cairns in tropical north Queensland, the biggest distraction here is the night sky. Wide open skies with no light pollution means that the stars of the Milky Way compete with movie stars on the big screen for attention.
Movie-goers spread out on deck chairs beside their cars while young couples cuddle under sleeping bags in the back of utes and station wagons. Make a night of it and camp out for free in the drive-in grounds.
Where: Mareeba QLD
Mareeba Drive-in cinema is one of the few drive-in cinemas still operating in Australia. Graphic courtesy of Mareeba Drive-in
7. Deckchair Cinema
Another outdoor cinema that takes full advantage of its tropical location and climate, Deckchair Cinema is one of Darwin’s best attractions. The 250 seat harbour-side cinema is operated by the Darwin Film Society, often screening films not available to local audiences. Family-friendly and independent, recent releases, family favourites along with Australian and foreign films feature in the programme.
Hot food and a bar service operates each evening though movie-goers are welcome to bring their own hampers for an alfresco picnic in tropical gardens prior to show time. Arrive at dusk to watch the colours of the setting sun reflect off the water and boats bobbing in the tide.
Where: Darwin NT
When: 7 nights a week April to November
Darwin’s Deckchair Cinema is a fine outdoor cinema on the city’s waterfront. Image credit: Travel Boating Lifestyle
8. Rooftop Cinema
In the heart of Melbourne’s CBD is the uber cool Rooftop Cinema. Six levels above the street on top of Curtin House along Swanston Street, urban hipsters congregate on fake grass, sipping G&Ts at the Rooftop Bar. As dusk settles moviegoers retreat to sling back canvas chairs.
Cult classics, nostalgic favourites and recent dramas and thrillers feature on the programme. The rooftop bar is almost as popular as the cinema itself, as is people watching.
Where: Curtin House, Melbourne VIC
When: December to April
Melbourne’s Rooftop Cinema is popular for drinks before the movie starts. Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria
9. Moonlight Cinema Melbourne
Equally popular though more obviously family-friendly is the Moonlight Cinema which sets up each summer in the Royal Botanic Gardens in South Yarra. It’s worth getting there early to enjoy the gorgeous gardens which surround the gently sloped grassy knoll which the cinema occupies.
Bring a picnic and a blanket (which will come in handy for keeping warm once the movie starts – Melbourne summer nights are far from tropical!) or hire a beanbag to get super comfy! Screening new releases along with the odd nostalgic favourite, the programme caters for a broad base of moviegoers. Purchase a Gold Grass ticket for a bean bag in a premium viewing location and wait service with food and drinks served at your bean bag.
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne VIC
When: December to March
Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens have plenty of soft grass for movie goers to get comfy on. Photo courtesy of Moonlight Cinemas
10. St George Openair Cinema
Celebrating its 20th season, it’s easy to be distracted by your surroundings at St George Openair Cinema on the banks on Sydney’s famous harbour. The Opera House and Harbour Bridge vie for attention beyond the popup screen that barely manages to temporarily block out the view.
Indulge in fine food and wine while lapping up new release films in a uniquely Sydney locale. As you’d expect from the harbour city it’s sophisticated in an al fresco sort of way. A bar, restaurant and café dishes up delectable treats to sate hungry moviegoers.
Where: Mrs Macquarie Point, Sydney NSW
When: January to February
St George Openair Cinema ticks all the boxes for outdoor summer movie fun. Photo courtesy of St George Openair Cinema