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10 outdoor cinemas to book now

Nothing says summer like watching an alfresco movie surrounded by green fields or in the grounds of an impressive stately pile. Here's what's on locally. Popcorn at the ready!

Ashridge House, near Berkhamsted

This rather glorious Grade I listed mansion (and former home to Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, no less) provides a fairytale backdrop for its programme of open air cinema, running from 27 June – 4 August. Roll out the blanket on the Italian lawn and settle in for an evenings viewing. There’s Mission Impossible (27 June), Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet (28 June), Forrest Gump (29 June), Pulp Fiction (30 June), Pretty Woman (1 July), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1 Aug), Hairspray (2 Aug), West Side Story (3 Aug), The Greatest Showman (4 Aug).

Gates open at 6.30 so you can come and soak up the early evening atmosphere with a pre-ordered picnic, dinner at the restaurant kitchen (7.30pm), or a drink and snack from the Bakehouse Café, which is open ’til 9. Then the movies start at 9.30pm as the sun sets – magical!

Hertford Castle, Hertford

This iconic landmark in Herts’ county town has the perfect green for popping up a big screen. There’ll be three screenings on 19 August including two daytime ones for the kids – Raya and the Last Dragon (10am), Encanto (2pm) and the evening offering is Whitney classic The Bodyguard (7pm). Tickets are just £3 for the earlier screening and £7 for the evening one. Pull up your camping chairs and pack the pick ‘n’ mix!

Luna Cinema, Highfield Park, St Albans; Harpenden Common; Knebworth House

Luna Cinema is, arguably, the big daddy of outdoor cinema and the venues reflect its status. The Luna juggernaut is decamping at Knebworth House for four nights with a screening of iconic gig Oasis Knebworth 1996 (7 July), all-singing, all-dancing West Side Story (8 July), Grease (9 July) and Romeo & Juliet (10 July).

But before that it stops at Highfield Park in St Albans, with No Time to Die (28 June), Grease (29 June) and Rocketman (30 June), followed by Harpenden Common for Spiderman: No Way Home (1 July), Dirty Dancing (2 July) and Moulin Rouge! (3 July). There will be the usual fab food and drink stalls and trucks, but you can take your own picnic (no booze though!). Or go fancy and opt for a fire-side sofa with blankets and a bottle of prosecco, a double deckchair for a cosy date night, or forget carrying your own camping chair, hire a director’s chair in a prime viewing spot.

Sundown Cinema, Turvey House, Bedfordshire

Sundown Cinema have brought outdoor cinema to some of our counties’ choicest venues over the years. For 2022 they’re popping up at the rather stunning Turvey House, right on the banks of the River Great Ouse. And despite the name all the screenings will be in daylight hours this year, so the whole family can come along. There’s Sing 2 (11am) and Encanto (3pm) on 25 July and Moana (11am) and The Greatest Showman (3pm) on 27 July. They have been known to provide free popcorn too, so watch this space!

Big Screen, Watford

Setting up in two Watford venues – Knutsford Playing Fields (8-14 Aug) and Woodside Playing Fields (15-21 aug) – the Big Screen is back this year. Organised by Watford council’s Big Events team (also responsible for some of the city’s other annual faves, including Imagine Watford and Big Beach), there’ll be screenings of old classics and new blockbusters (schedule TBC), plus food stalls and trucks as well as licensed bars at the cricket and rugby club bars. Oh and did we mention they’re FREE! Yep, no tickets, just rock up and enjoy.

A FEW JUST OVER THE HERTS/BEDS BORDERS…

Luna Cinema, Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor in Bucks has ‘perfect outdoor cinema venue’ written all over it! Enjoy Moulin Rouge (8 Sept), No Time to Die (9 Sept), Steven Spielberg’s retelling of West Side Story (10 Sept) and going retro, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (11 Sept). Note that the bus will not be running for the event, so be prepared to schlep your picnic basket and blankets up and down the hill to the manor. The chair hire options mentioned above will be available too though if you want to pack light.

Waterperry Gardens, near Oxford

The gorgeous grounds of Waterperry, on the Bucks side of Oxford play host to three movies from 7-9 July – Pretty Woman, West Side Story and Belfast. There will be food and drink, plus bucolic views and a bit of floral border envy thrown in…

And ones to watch…

A few open air cinemas are yet to announce their showings, including Outdoor Cinema MK and Vintage Open Air Cinema, also in MK, plus Missenden Abbey.

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