Sweltering days and breezy evenings make you want to spend all your time outside. Alfresco cinemas pop-up all over Sydney during these warm months. Here’s our pick of the best outdoor spaces for starlit movie viewing.
St George OpenAir Cinema
Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquarie's Chair
January 8 to February 19
Every year, patrons of this harbourside cinema are torn between watching the screen and staring out at the Sydney Harbour skyline. The season’s program includes more than a dozen premiere or preview films, such as The Martian and Carol. Gourmet dining options (including Pearl Catering, Chandon Bar and Pat & Stick’s Homemade Ice Cream, and grandstand-style seating, set it apart as a more upmarket experience.
Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinema Bondi
On the Dolphin Lawn, overlooking Bondi Beach, Sydney
January 21 to February 28
Beanbag lounges, sea breeze and free ice cream on Sundays are the perks of watching films at the Ben & Jerry’s cinema. Overlooking Bondi Beach, it includes live music acts, pizza, a licensed bar and all the ice cream your heart desires. This year there will be a Grease sing-a-long and The Notebook on Valentine’s Day, but there’s no shortage of new releases, including Carol and The Big Short.
IMB BANK Sunset Cinema
North Sydney Oval, Corner Miller and Ridge Streets, North Sydney
Four nights per week from January 21 to March 19
The expansive grounds of North Sydney Oval will host a series of sunset movie sessions from January to March. Its food and drink game is strong, with 4Pines craft beers, wine from MadFish Wine Bar and the NightHawk Diner American food truck on site. Shades of orange and yellow sky will be the backdrop to some of the season’s best flicks, including the latest Bond film Spectre and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.
IMB BANK Sunset Cinema
Wollongong Botanic Garden, main car park, Murphy’s Avenue, Keiraville, Wollongong
Three nights per week from December 26 to February 27
Some argue the best outdoor cinemas exist outside of Sydney’s metropolitan area. The lush, green setting for Wollongong’s Sunset Cinema, held in its magnificent Botanic Garden, makes it a strong contender. It has the same food options as its North Sydney counterpart, with the welcomed addition of Fired Up wood-fired pizza.
Sydney Hills Outdoor Cinema
Heritage Park, Castle Hill
January 15 to February 14
This open-air newcomer has all the bells and whistles of a comfortable cinematic experience. As well as its big program of 31 recent releases, there’s a candy bar serving exclusive Messina choc-tops, live pre-film entertainment, food stalls and a licensed bar. You can hire beanbags and blankets, but if you really want to go all out, book your own VIP Bell complete with viewing courtyard and a private butler.
Belvedere Amphitheatre, Centennial Park, Paddington (Corner Carrington Dive and Broome Avenue)
December 2015 to March 2016
Showing new and old films, Centennial Park’s Moonlight Cinema is popular with moviegoers of all persuasions. A picnic under the stars can be arranged with plenty of options at the LA-style food trucks, all you have to bring is the rug. The program includes thrillers, Everest and Spectre, as well as comedy flick, Sisters, which you can watch with your best pal as part of the Doggie Nights screening.
Movies in the Park
Strathfield Park, Between Homebush and Chalmers Roads, Strathfield
Various Saturdays from December 12 to April 9.
This free, communal event is all about wholesome family entertainment. It’s a BYO picnic rug, hamper and camping chair affair, but you can’t reserve a spot, so get in early for good seats.
Movie Night in the Courtyard
The Beresford Hotel
October 2015 to April 2016
Every Wednesday night throughout summer, The Beresford Hotel converts its leafy courtyard into an intimate cinema venue. It’s free to come watch and there’s a two-hour-long happy hour before the main event. The theme changes from month to month (from a January “LOL” to a February “Love & Cheese” flick) and the new menu offers classic pub fare.