With the arrival of summer comes the opening of outdoor cinemas. That feeling of endless summer nights, balmy temperatures (hopefully), hanging out with friends, watching a classic with a drink in your hand: does it get any better?
With many indoor movie theaters still closed, this is the perfect time to enjoy a warm night in the open air. Here’s a selection of our Spotters’ favorite local outdoor and drive-in cinemas in their cities.
Thisio Cinema, Athens
Athens might be the world capital of open-air cinemas. Nobody knows for sure how many there are, but our locals reckon there are at least a 100 in the city, open every June to September. Do you know a city that has more? Let us know!
Right under the Acropolis, the Thisseion cinema is a personal favorite of our Athens Spotter Sofia – the perfect place to relax under the starry sky after a day in Athens. Sometimes it plays movies almost as old as the cinema itself!
Insel der Jugend, Berlin
Insel der Jugend, or “island of youth”, is a popular spot for an afternoon or weekend break from the city. Located in the midst of a beautiful green area of Berlin, you can find cultural events, canoe rentals, bike tours and more – as well as open-air film screenings organized by Berlin’s traveling pop-up cinema, Mobile Kino. Why not come for a picnic during the day, and stay for a refreshing night of big screen entertainment?
Kocherpark is an oasis some steps outside the city center. The vibe is relaxed, the surroundings are green and the cultural program includes everything from yoga and hairdressing, lectures and concerts to silent discos and pyro performances. In August they host an outdoor art-house cinema for a few weeks. The best news? It’s free!
A short drive from Frankfurt, in the neighboring city of Offenbach, you’ll find the open-air cinema Hafenkino, a local favorite summer spot. They screen a variety of films: from academy award winners to lesser-known alternative movies, the choice is yours. The setting is quite unique: an urban industrial ruin in the background, free-range sheep on the right and an alternative bar/restaurant to the left. The nearby river also makes for a great stroll before or after a viewing.
This cinema closes its main movie theater in the summer and instead organizes open-air film screenings, which will start in August this year. Spoutnik is known for showing films that are non-commercial and their main goal is to promote movies that are less known to the wider public. They often partner up with different local film festivals to achieve wider recognition for new film-makers.
Zeise Autokino, Hamburg
Zeise itself is a small, beautiful local cinema. Our Hamburg Spotter Sebastiana would recommend that you visit it if you get the chance. This summer, they are organizing a large outdoor drive-in cinema (“Autokino”). There are two large screens, space for up to 500 visitors, and multiple films screened a day. Enjoy selections from the most recent blockbusters to old-time classics.
Our Ljubljana Spotter Jošt used to work at Kinodvor as a waiter, and can tell you that this cinema has a warm community vibe. They take care to show programs for everyone: older people, children, students, mommies with strollers… The cinema moves outside (to the courtyard of the cinema building as well as to the courtyard of the castle) every summer.
If you ever wanted to feel like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John at the drive-in cinema, and have never been to one, this is your chance to go to the largest permanent drive-in cinema in Europe. Autocine Madrid can fit up to 350 cars in 25,000 square meters. Bring your own food, grab a snack at any of the food trucks, or enjoy some American favorites at their diner.
Mare Culturale Urbano, Milan
Mare Culturale Urbano is one of the most vibrant cultural centers in Milan. Originally a farmstead, it was renovated and transformed into a social space, a co-working area, a music venue, an exhibition site… essentially a hub for culture and innovation. There’s always something going on in the main yard, including a much-loved open-air cinema during the summer nights.
Cinemascope is a project that promotes independent film festivals and art-house movies. There are standard programs, shown at Rakieta cinema (one of the oldest cinemas in Minsk), and special seasonal programs, such as the #Shhh summer open-air program. They are always working on new and interesting projects, and are definitely worth taking the time to check out on a visit to Minsk.
Kasárna Karlín, Prague
“Kasárna” means “barracks”, and it really was a former house for soldiers. Nowadays Kasárna Karlín has become a dynamic cultural center with a cafe, a bar, a cinema, a theater, a gallery and a place for music events. In the summer they have an open-air cinema that is a popular chill out zone for hanging out with friends.
This is one of the smaller, but also one of the cozier outdoor cinemas you can enjoy this year. G8 Sofia screens mainly European, Asian and art-house films. They have a nice glass roof café, which is a comfortable place to work most of the time. This summer it is being used as an open-air cinema for small groups. Come enjoy the cozy atmosphere – and a complimentary drink!
Cine Alsos, Thessaloniki
Cine Alsos is the definition of “off-the-beaten-track”, hidden in a vast tree-filled park on the upper side of the city. Even on the hottest summer days, you will feel the breeze and the calm that only mountainous scenery can provide. They screen great movies, varying between well-known and new movies, plus animated films for kids, and independent and European film-making.
When summer arrives, most public gardens in Warsaw turn into cinemas under the stars. You will find a spot for every taste and films from all over the world. One of local Spotter Stefano’s favorites is the Narodowy Instytut Audiowizualny (NInA). The institute works on promoting Polish film tradition, and during their July/August outdoor screenings you can enjoy Polish classics while taking a break from the city noise.
Open Air Cinema, Yerevan
During the hot and dry summers in Yerevan, the Open Air Cinema is a perfect refreshing nighttime activity. This outdoor theater can be found behind the Moscow Cinema. Its constructivist-style hall has an interesting, controversial Soviet history (check out the article!). The amphitheater has remained operational to this day and hosts multiple screenings during the annual Yerevan Golden Apricot International Film Festival.
Kino Tuškanac, Zagreb
One of Zagreb’s charms is that it has a real forest in its very center – forest Tuškanac. If you wander along one of the trails that runs through it, called Dubravkin put, on a summer night, you’ll come across Summer Cinema Tuškanac, a small and very pleasant open-air cinema. What better way to spend a balmy summer night than relaxing under the moon and the stars, drink in hand, enjoying a good movie?
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