54 outdoor screenings
Pass the popcorn and top up the Pimms - it's outdoor cinema season! Here's our pick of the bunch in the counties' coolest settings...
Pop-up cinemas are everywhere these days, in the grounds of grand stately homes, and sprawling country parks, even country pubs and farms! And lazing about on the grass on a balmy summer evening sipping Pimms is far more appealing than being blasted with air-con in a dark room, next to someone scrunching a Maltesers packet in your ear! OK, so we can’t really rely on the British weather, but we’re a hardy lot, (I have been known to camp out at London’s Somerset House in the pouring rain – picnic blanket plastic-side-up, umbrella strategically propped, in the name of outdoor cinema!). So do pack some layers (and maybe your waterproofs!) and book your tix to one of these screenings – from hot-outta-Hollywood blockbusters to oldies-but-goodies – before they sell out.
One of the biggest names in open-air cinema is bringing old classics and recent box office faves to some of Herts and Beds’ most prestigious venues. Leafy Highfield Park in St Albans, will host sing-your-heart-out screenings of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (on 3 July) and Bohemian Rhapsody (4 July). These ones will also be showing at Knebworth House from 6-7 July respectively, after Batman on 4 July and A Star is Born (pack the tissues!) on 5 July.
Then from 14-16 June Wrest Park will make a rather grand setting for Pretty Woman, The Greatest Showman and Bohemian Rhapsody, and Hatfield House from 22-24 August with The Favourite, The Greatest Showman and Dirty Dancing.
Then, because we wouldn’t want to leave the little ones out, they’ll get their own cinema experience at Knebworth from 31 July – 4 August. The programme includes The Gruffalo and friends, Peppa Pig, Mary Poppins, Dumbo, Moana and more. Plus there’ll be a special kids’ bar with soft drinks and healthy juices (don’t worry there’ll be a big kids’ bar for the harder stuff too!) and food stalls selling American-style street food like hotdogs and doughnuts.
With family-friendly (lunchtime as well as evening) screenings across Herts, Beds (and four other counties) these guys had us at FREE popcorn (uh huh!) Plus you can hire a deckchair or beanbag to make sure you’re sitting comfortably before the movie begins. They’re popping up in Herts at Ashridge House (Spice World, 7 June; The Greatest Showman, 12 July; A Star is Born, 26 July), Hitchin Lavender – how about watching Dirty Dancing for the gazillionth time amongst the scenty swathes of purple? – (various films showing 15-18 Aug and 4-8 Sept), and the Cricketers (yup, the village pub!) in Weston (Mary Poppins Returns, 25 July; Matilda, 27 Aug).
In Beds, you can catch them at Shuttleworth House, Old Warden (Bohemian Rhapsody, 20 June; The Greatest Showman, 21 June; Pretty Woman 21 June), then there’ll be family faves from Frozen to Guardians of the Galaxy at Putteridge Bury country house (1, 6 and 15 Aug), and more at Luton Hoo (21-26 Aug and 28 Aug – 1 Sept). Finally, at Mill Meadows Island, on the Bedford Embankment, you can see Moana, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Jungle Book, Dirty Dancing and The Greatest Showman (9-11 Aug)
If you’re on the border of Beds and Northants, you might well have heard of these guys… and while Northants is their usual stomping ground, they’ve added two new Bedfordshire venues to their roving cinema schedule this year. Head to the privately owned Turvey House on 25-26 May (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Greatest Showman) and 28 June (Dirty Dancing), then later in the summer you can catch Bohemian Rhapsody (24 Aug) and A Star is Born (25 Aug) at The Woodlands Manor Hotel in Clapham (Beds, not London, of course!)