Between the travel restrictions, social distancing, badly ventilated spaces indoors and weather outdoors, we are not exactly shaping up for a great British summer. The silver lining you seek could be the silver screen. Drive-in and outdoor cinemas are looking like the best of several worlds: you’re getting out of the house but not necessarily out of your car, you’re together with other people yet reassuringly separate. At the movies you can go anywhere you want, from Edwardian Britain to Wakanda – for less than the price of a PCR swab test.
The deal and the programming are similar at most drive-ins, but things to check include whether prices are per car or per person, how the sound is delivered – via headphones, car radio or in-car speaker – the screen size, ticket transferability and, of course, the catering.
Around London, The Alfresco Theatre prides itself on its gourmet food options, and has film and other live entertainment in St Albans (2 to 6 June) and Syon Park, Brentford (9 to 13 June). The Rooftop Film Club has drive-in cinemas at Alexandra Palace, Brent Cross and Sandown Park, as well as its actual rooftop venues in Peckham and Stratford. And The Drive In (to 30 June) has recent releases at Troubadour Meridian Water, N18.
Heading north, Manchester’s Secret City (to 6 June) has screenings every night, including a decent horror selection. The Luna Drive In Cinema has screenings in the grounds of Leeds’ Harewood House throughout June. The Great British Drive In is at Stafford’s Sandon Hall till next weekend, and Wirral has the Woodside Drive In (to 27 Jun). Nightflix has six drive-ins including Milton Keynes, Hartlepool, Colchester and Luton Airport.
Around the south, later in the summer there is Loxwood Drive-In in West Sussex (17 July to 1 August). Or, for an atmospheric location, the clifftop Wavelength Drive-In (16 July to 5 September) near Newquay, Cornwall takes some beating. The programme is fittingly sea- and surf-centric.
Alternatively, for a car-free experience, Hideaway Cinema (to 19 September) visits venues, starting in Wetherby this week and including London’s Kew Gardens and Hampstead Heath, Norfolk’s Holkham Hall and more. Adventure Cinema (to 26 September) has outdoor screenings in scores of locations. And the well-established Luna Cinema (to 3 October) will be at stately and scenic locations nationwide.
Or, for something really different, try London’s float-in Openaire Cinema (2 to 27 June), where you can watch movies from a boat in Paddington Basin – including, of course, Jaws.