It wouldn't be summer in London without an onslaught of pop-up outdoor cinemas and rooftop film screenings. Whether you're into classic flicks or the newest releases, check out where you can get your al fresco film fix in summer 2019.
The Nomad Cinema 2019
Charity pop-up screen Nomad Cinema has shown films in impressive venues including Brompton Cemetery, Leadenhall Market and Grosvenor Square in the past. We've always been fans of its work, because it raises money for charity. It's a volunteer-run social enterprise, with 100% of profits going to The Sustainability Institute, a development programme in South Africa.
Unfortunately for fans, it's taking a little break from its usually-hectic schedule in summer 2019.
That's not to day it's gone completely — there are still occasional screenings planned, including monthly screenings at the Hoxton. See the website for upcoming events, and cross your fingers it'll be back with a vengeance in 2020.
If you're missing your Nomad fix too much, go and see a film at Lexi, the Kensal Green cinema where Nomad began.
Rooftop Film Club 2019 screenings
King of the summer cinema scene Rooftop Film Club brings screenings to rooftops in Peckham, Shoreditch and Stratford again this year
RFC's winning formula involved mixing cult classics with new releases such and perennial favourites. Food and drink is available from well-stocked bars and carefully-selected food vendors, and ice cream takes centre stage for 2019.
Our recommendation? Head for the Bussey Building in Peckham for seriously impressive views over the London skyline at sunset.
The season runs May-September. Tickets go on sale a month at a time — book quickly, as they usually sell out.
The Luna Cinema's 2019 screenings
A worthy rival to the aforementioned Nomad Cinema is Luna. The mobile movie theatre travels all over the country (175 screenings in 2018!). Past London venues have included Westminster Abbey, Greenwich Park, Hampton Court Palace, and the annual classic, Jaws on a dinghy in Brockwell Lido. Never gets old, that one.
The 2019 summer season runs May-September, with all screenings now announced and available to book. Nationwide venues are all listed together, so your best bet is to find your closest screening point from this list, and see what's showing when.
Luna also runs a family-friendly branch, Luna Kids Cinema. London venues are Dulwich Park (25 May-2 June) and Hampton Court Palace (14-18 August), with films aimed at tots to teenagers and their families.
Summer On Screen 2019 at Wembley Park
From newbies Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born, to classics like Dirty Dancing and Moulin Rouge, a free outdoor cinema opens at Arena Square in Wembley Park from May-July.
As well as the mainstream films, Bollywood blockbusters are on the programme — and all screenings are free, no need to book.
Pop Up Screens 2019
Pop Up Screens does its usual tour of London parks, from Kingston to Greenwich via Fulham, Russell Square, Denmark Hill, Hammersmith, Hither Green, Guildhall and Hornsey, with more than 40 films being shown on the temporary screen.
Focus is on the mainstream classics such as Grease, The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, 10 Things I Hate About You and Jurassic Park, with a few newer blockbusters (The Greatest Showman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mamma Mia 2) thrown in to keep things fresh. Local food businesses pitch up at each location to serve snacks and drinks.
Floating Film Festival at St Katharine Docks
A fortnight of film screenings on a floating pontoon returns to St Katharine Docks in July.
New releases including Stan & Ollie, Mary Poppins Returns, The Greatest Showman, Green Book, and Bohemian Rhapsody are all being screened, with tickets £12 each (advance booking required). Deckchairs and bean bags are provided, with drinks and snacks available to buy.
Film screenings at Southbank Centre's Summer Festival
There's a lot going on at Southbank Centre this summer, including free screenings of some absolute classic films.
Royal Opera House's BP Big Screens 2019
Who says nothing in this life is free? Entry to these live-streamed Royal Opera House screenings is. Big screens pop-up at locations including Trafalgar Square on three different dates across the summer, opening traditional performances to a wider audience as they're screened live from the stage. The 2019 dates are as follows:
- The Royal Ballet: Romeo and Juliet - 11 June
- The Royal Opera: Carmen - 2 July
- The Royal Opera: The Marriage of Figaro - 9 July
Trafalgar Square is the most popular London location, but screenings also take place at Lyric Square in Hammersmith, Wembley Park, White City and General Gordon Square in Woolwich. See individual venues for details.
Hyde Park Summertime Festival 2019
Even if you haven't got tickets for the blockbuster music gigs that headline Hyde Park's British Summer Time festival, you're invited to Open House, the weekday events that take place in the park between the gigs, including street food markets, sports events and open-air film screenings. Open House takes place 9-11 July 2019, with screening details yet to be announced.
Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House 2019
Once again for a fortnight in August, that cobbled courtyard of Somerset House houses a giant cinema screen, with crowds huddling round for screenings. As usual, we're offered an edgier, more unique selection of films than the crowd-pleasers at other venues — not that that usually stops it selling out. The full programme is available here, and includes Black Panther, Reservoir Dogs and This Is England. The opening night features the UK premiere of Pain And Glory, introduced by Pedro Almodóvar, and the final night is also a UK premiere, Inna De Yard.
This year, a range of seating options are available, including beanbags and director's chairs.
Free film screenings at Summer By The River 2019
Free summer festival Summer By The River returns with events almost every day. Film screenings are dotted through the programme, including Aquaman, Mean Girls, Incredibles 2, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Screenings are free and there's no need to book — just turn up.
Summer Screens at Canary Wharf 2019
There's a wealth of free outdoor cinema on offer at Canary Wharf this summer. Summer Screens shows sport, live screenings of BBC Proms, documentaries and films, all free in Cabot Square and Canada Square Park.
The Movie Nights take place on various summer evenings, showing classic films with an other-worldly theme, including Groundhog Day, Ghost, and ET.
Finally, Bond films Goldfinger and Skyfall are screened over two consecutive evenings for the James Bond Movie Nights. It's a promo for a new range of Orlebar Brown swimwear, but a free film's a free film, right?
Everyman Presents: Summer Love at King's Cross
Everyman Cinema runs a series of free outdoor screenings on the canalside steps in Granary Square (unless the weather turns, in which case head for the shelter of the Everyman Theatre on Handyside Street).
The programme is yet to be announced, but we're promised blockbusters, family films, cult classics, plus an LGBTQ+ programme during Pride, all slotted in around screenings of Wimbledon matches. Booking will be required... watch this space.
Summer Screenings in Leicester Square
Someone somewhere decided there aren't enough cinemas in the Leicester Square vicinity, so they're whacking up a pop-up screen in Leicester Square Gardens for two weekends in August, showing family-friendly films for free. Bean bags are provided on a first come, first served basis, or you can bring your own picnic blanket to watch the likes of The Lion King and Finding Dory.
Summer Screen Stratford at the International Quarter
This new Stratford neighbourhood hosts a pop-up screen from July-September, showing films, opera live broadcasts and sporting events. Film highlights include Fantastic Beasts and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. Full schedule here. All screenings are free, but book in advance for film nights.
Wimbledon 2019 outdoor screenings
It wouldn't be summer in London without Wimbledon matches being shown on big screens all over the city — here are the best al fresco screenings of the 2019 tournament. Bring your own strawberries.