Summer in Sydney Australia means open air cinema. Whether in a park, at the beach or on the big screen which emerges from the harbour.
From latest releases to classics, they’re shown under the stars. Sydney’s outdoor cinemas go from ticketed seats with champagne to picnic blankets and free films.
First catch your sunset. A glass of bubbles or cold white wine, something to eat, watch the stars come out, and then the film starts.
Harbourside Open Air Cinemas
Sydney’s jewel in the crown for open air cinemas is without doubt the St George Open Air Cinema at the Fleet Steps Mrs Macquarie’s Point, Sydney.
This has the most spectacular setting of all Sydney’s outdoor cinemas with a program to match. You’ll see previews, recent releases, classics and Australian movies. You’ll sit in very comfortable, ticketed seats. And there’s a bar and restaurant on site.
The season runs through January and into February. Exact dates vary a little from year to year. Advance bookings are recommended. These films sell out very quickly.
And yet . . . . . there are always a few tickets reserved for sale on the day. So you might want to wait and see how the weather is. Be prepared to miss out though.
If you really want to have this experience you’d be better off taking the risk on the weather rather than on getting last minute tickets.
There are no bad seats and there are enough of them, although it’s sometimes hard to tell which ones are free. If it’s a little confusing when you arrive, grab an usher and she’ll find you the best available spots. Big groups should arrive early for seats together.
Website: Habourside open air cinema
Moonlight Cinema, Centennial Park
This is a very good one if you like cult films – although there are plenty of mainstream offerings as well.
Cult, classic and new release films are shown nightly (except Monday) at Centennial Park Paddington, a short bus ride from downtown Sydney. The season opens in early December and runs until late March.
Gates open at 1830 (6.30pm) and screenings start at sundown.
Tickets are available online and at the box office near the cinema’s entry from 1900 (7pm). Very popular movies may have limited availability on site, so it’s best to check what’s on and book online beforehand.
You can bring your own picnic, or there’s a full bar and food to buy on site. Picnic hampers should be able to be booked online along with your ticket.
Book Gold Grass tickets for a reserved bean bed in a premium viewing location on the lawn. Or you can just hire bean beds when you arrive (subject to rather limited availability) to keep you off the grass and allow you to lounge around in comfort.
The Moonlight Cinema has discount movie tickets on Wednesdays. Discounts apply to Gold Grass tickets as well.
Website: Moonlight cinema
Bondi Beach Sydney Outdoor Cinema
A day at the beach doesn’t have to end at sundown. Stay on to watch open air movies right on Bondi Beach.
Bondi Openair promises an eclectic line up of quirky comedies, retro classics, great Australian films, award winning films, new releases, premieres and sneak previews.
Dates are usually from late January till early March. Movie schedules are generally released late in the year.
Deck chairs, bean bags and picnic blankets can be hired.
There’s a good selection of food and drink available on site and all along Campbell Parade: food and drink outlets cheek by jowl down the full length of the beach.
Website: Bondi Openair
Starlight Cinema, North Sydney Oval
Just across the harbour, North Sydney Oval is the least crowded open air cinema. It runs Wednesday to Sunday, from mid January to early March.
Like the other open air cinemas it has food and drink to buy if you don’t want to bring your own. Most importantly, it offers shelter if it rains. No dripping under plastic macs or needing windscreen wipers on your glasses.
The film selection is fairly mainstream – plenty of comedy, family and a few of the top 100 movies ever. Tickets can be bought at the gate but they’re cheaper online.
Choose from a smorgasbord of extras – hampers, bean beds, deck chairs, VIP service.
Website: Starlight Open Air cinema