The World's Best Outdoor Movie Theaters

by  Karen Gardiner | May 28, 2014
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area / pabradyphoto/iStock

Summer means open-air movies in many of the world's cities, but not all open-air cinemas are created equal. Here's a roundup of eight of the very best al fresco movie theaters where the surroundings rival the drama on-screen.

St.George OpenAir Cinema, Sydney
Fancy a Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House backdrop to your movie? Set on Mrs Macquaries Point, near Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens, the St.George OpenAir Cinema has one of the most scenic locations in the world and takes pride in its minimal carbon footprint. The season runs January-February and focuses on more recent, mainstream movies.

Hot Tub Cinema, London and New York City
A unique concept, the first public Hot Tub Cinema screening (in which viewers don bathing suits watch movies while sitting in tubs) took place in London in 2012. Since then, the event has grown to include up to 30 hot tubs, two screens, and surround sound. This year, the event is expanding to new London locations, including an underground tube station, and as far afield as New York City. The first New York event was a screening of, naturally, Hot Tub Time Machine. Check the website for updates on the full summer season in both cities.

Brighton's Big Screen
A little further south in England, Brighton's Big Screen is situated on Brighton Beach next to the Brighton Pier and the Wheel. This year, the screen will be doubled in size from 2013 and will show recent box office hits including Les Miserables, Life of Pi, and Oblivion along with a mixture of classics and live sporting events including the World Athletics Championships. Best of all, it's free.

Film on the Rocks, Denver
One of the U.S.'s most stunning outdoor concert venues also hosts a movie program. Set within Red Rocks State Park, 10 miles from Denver, this dramatic rock structure has played host to musical acts for more than 100 years, but, in the summer, movies get their turn. This year's season runs June-September and includes showings of cult classics The Big Lebowski and This is Spinal Tap.

Sala Montjuic, Barcelona
Barcelona's most-scenic open-air cinema, Sala Montjuic, is located in the grounds of Montjuic Castle and is open from July through the first week of August. Screenings range from cult classics and European art house films to recent blockbusters, and are proceeded by a musical concert. The season kicks off on July 6 with a screening of Gravity that follows a show featuring vertical dance by the Del Revés company and a concert by the jazz group WOM Trio.

Rooftop Cinema, Tallinn
The skyline of Estonia's capital is a picturesque collection of spires, red roofs, and domes, and Tallinn's Rooftop Cinema offers the opportunity to enjoy this view as a backdrop to movies both classic and obscure. Rooftop Cinema is Estonia's only regular outdoor cinema and it runs from mid-May through August 31.

Films at the Fort, Singapore
Set in the natural amphitheater of Fort Canning Park, Films at the Fort shows both high-profile features and a selection from an emerging Singaporean talent on Singapore’s largest screen. The season is brief, running just over a week (August 1-10 in 2014) and this year's program has yet to be announced. Check the website for updates.

Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles
Finally, where better to watch a movie than the final resting place of many of Hollywood's biggest stars? The cemetery’s Fairbanks Lawn is the site for Cinespia’s summertime, which will this year be showing such classics such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Rear Window. DJs spin before and after the presentation, which are sometimes introduced by a visiting movie star.

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