12 Outdoor Cinemas In Sydney To Take Your Movie Experience To The Next Level

11 minutes reading time (2224 words)

Going to the movies will never be the same


Everyone loves movies and everyone loves the great Sydney outdoors in summer. Combine these two crowd favourites and you'll have this list of 12 gorgeous outdoor cinemas to take your movie-going experience to the next level.

Instead of your usual local movie theatre, give one of these outdoor cinemas a try!  


1. Moonlight Cinemas


Moonlight Cinema is deemed Australia’s favourite outdoor cinema and has been running for 20 years in the luscious parklands of Centennial Park. The cinema screens the latest blockbusters, classics and even exclusive previews during the warm months of December to March every year. Movies aren’t the only thing to look forward to at the Moonlight Cinema - food trucks serving delicious street food, snacks and beverages will also be on site to fill your tummies.

If you’re feeling a little fancy, you can purchase a Gold Grass ticket ($35) which entitles you to your own Bean Bed in the premium viewing spot on the lawn, and even a personal waiter to take your order and serve refreshments.

Summer nights are definitely better with the Moonlight Cinema. Gates open an hour and a half before the film starts so you have plenty of time to claim a spot on the grass, grab some food, and relax before your movie commences. Do be sure to check out their website for more details and scheduled movies.

Screening Dates: 3 Dec 2015 to 27 Mar 2016
Location: Belvedere Amphitheatre, Centennial Park, Paddington NSW 2021


2. St George OpenAir Cinema


There is no arguing that St George’s Open Air Cinema is the most beautiful cinema that Australia (and maybe even the world) has to offer. You will have to battle between watching the movie and admiring the beautiful backdrop of the Sydney harbour.

Make the most of this stunning view and come by early to try out one of the harbourside restaurants or bars. Once the sky starts to dim, your unforgettable cinematic experience will commence. St George’s Open Air Cinema offers a three storeys high screen that towers over a 2000 seat grandstand, accompanied by a 32-speaker surround sound. They also screen the latest movies in tandem with the local cinemas.

Screening Dates: 8 Jan to 19 Feb 2016 
Location: Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquarie’s Rd, Sydney NSW 2000


3. Sydney Hills Outdoor Cinema


Sydney Hills Outdoor Cinema vows to offer you more than just a cinema experience. This is Sydney’s newest addition to the outdoor cinema scene, showcasing 31 movies throughout the 2016 season.

Secure premium seating when you purchase the MTV VIP package ($32) which includes a free Messina choc-top (!!!) and complimentary blankets so you can snuggle up during the movie. Alternatively, if you’ve got a group of mates or family that you’d like to bring, you can opt for the VIP Bell Tent ($300) where you can relax and style and comfort. The tent caters for a maximum of 8 people, and comes with a butler service that will have food and beverage delivered straight to your tent.

There will be great food on offer, as well as live entertainment before each film starts. Food provided by The Tuckshop and sweet treats by Messina are just some of the big names you can expect to see at the cinema. 

Screening Dates: 15 Jan to 14 Feb 2016
Location: Heritage Park, Heritage Park Drive, Castle Hill NSW 2154


4. Movie Night in the Courtyard @ The Beresford Hotel


There’s even more reason to visit popular bar The Beresford Hotel on Wednesday evenings with their FREE entry movie screenings! The best part about this is that Happy Hour happens just before from 6-8pm, so get your drink on and then settle down for a beautiful movie night under the stars.

If you’re hungry you have a wide selection of delicious wood-fired pizzas amongst other menu items from The Beresford Hotel to accompany your movie. Movies screened here include retro classics like Pretty Woman and modern feel-good musical flick Pitch Pefect. Check out their website for this year’s movie line-up! 

Screening Dates: Every Wednesday night, 8pm from Oct 2015 to Apr 2016
Location: 354 Bourke Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010


5. Ben & Jerry's Open Air Cinema


This outdoor event should be part of your summer bucket list! Films will be screened on a huge screen, lighting up Bondi Beach once the sun sets. Before movies are screened, live music from Australian and New Zealand artists will fill the expanse of the beach.


Expect an eclectic program line up for the films that will be screened, such as award-winning features, classic films, quirky comedies, and sneak previews of new releases. The cinema follows a free seating concept so get in quick with your beanbags, mats, or blankets and make yourself comfortable. For those looking to splurge a little, you can purchase a package for the Star Lounge and Polo Class sections where you will enjoy many perks including bean lounger seating with blankets and cushions.

On Sundays, there won’t just be an ordinary movie session. Ben & Jerry’s are introducing their Sundae Session, where you get FREE ice cream and live music every Sunday! Ben and Jerry’s Open Air Cinema has also opened in the inner west in Sydney University on Cadigal Green located just a 5 minute walk from Redfern station, so be sure to have your eyes peeled on their website to find out when they’ll be popping up next!

Screening Dates: 21 Jan to 28 Feb 2016
Location: Dolphin Lawn, Bondi Surf Pavilion, Queen Elizabeth Dr, Bondi Beach NSW 2026


6. Movies by the Boulevard


Summer is beautiful time to just kick back, relax, and soak up some sunshine so there’s no reason not to check out Sydney Olympic Park’s annual summer family event, Movies by the Boulevard, After all, one would be foolish to turn down FREE movie screenings!

Movies by the Boulevard has been running for 15 years and is a summer favourite as each film screened aims to cater to every member of the family. These come in the genre of animated movies to films supporting local talent, and of course your favourite Hollywood blockbusters. Bring along your cushions, low chairs, picnic mats and baskets, and enjoy the relaxing vibes this event aims to offer. 

Food and drinks will also be available to purchase from 6pm. On selected nights, there will be special activities for the kids to enjoy. Movie screenings will commence once the skies have darkened at 8:30pm, but make sure you arrive early to secure a spot on the newly turfed grass as attendance is expected to reach 30 000 in 2016!

Screening Dates: 2 Jan to 17 Jan 2016
Location: Cathy Freeman Park, Olympic Boulevard, Sydney Olympic Park 2127


7. Sunset Cinema


Formerly known as Starlight Cinema, Sunset Cinema’s 2016 programme will run four nights per week between the screening dates mentioned below. A range of films will be screened at 7pm from the latest Hollywood releases to family favourites like Alvin and the Chipmunks! This season’s line up will not disappoint and there willl be something for everyone.

If you are not planning to have dinner before your movie, you can purchase the Wholesome Food Company Lawn Lounge ($45) which includes a movie ticket, reserved beanbag, a meal, wholesome food company snack, and a Bailey’s Ice Cream Petite Stick. Your outdoor movie experience cannot get any better. For a group of four adults, you can get the Groupies pass for $55, saving each person about $5. But hurry, this offer is only for a limited time!

Feel free to bring your own rugs, mats, or chairs, unless you are comfortable with just lounging around on the grass. You also have the option of renting a bean bag for $8, or a back rest for just $4.

Screening Dates: 21 Jan to 19 Mar 2016
Location: North Sydney Oval, Miller St & Ridge St, North Sydney NSW 2060


8. Skyline Drive In Cinema


Enjoy some of the hottest movies of the year in the atmosphere of a 1950’s drive-in cinema! Drive in Blacktown has been renovated to incorporate a 1950’s theme, offering diner food like burgers, shakes, banana splits, and hot dogs, all served by staff dressed for that era. The renovation also means the drive-in cinema’s sound system has been upgraded and is equipped with the latest digital technology to enhance your viewing experience. 

For those not keen on driving or don’t have a car, Blacktown station is just 10 minutes away and you can purchase tickets for the ‘Gold Grass’ section where you will be provided with deck chairs and premium seating.

Tickets go at $11 per person, relatively cheaper than going to your regular cinemas. Your movie experience will take you back 60 years, except instead of Mustangs and Fords you’re surrounded by Holdens and Toyotas. The old-school drive-in scene is definitely a nostalgic yet new experience that everyone should try!

Screening Dates: Daily 5.30pm to midnight
Location: Cricketers Arms Rd, Blacktown NSW 2148


9. Cinema in the Square


This interesting take on screening films is new to Sydney’s Outdoor Cinema scene. Held in the piazza of World Square at the heart of Sydney’s George Street, blue and red striped beach chairs will fill a section of the atrium. This silent movie screening does not mean you’ll be watching silent films. Instead, you’ll be hooked up with headphones so you can fully experience the movie without being a nuisance to the neighbouring retail and residential areas.

What makes this different from ordinary outdoor cinemas? Cinema in the Square screens classic films from the 1980s along with underrated films that deserve some recognition! Snuggle up with blankets that are provided, and enjoy the movie with your snacks and drinks. Seats are limited, catering to only about 40 people, so you need to be fast to snag a spot!

Screening Dates: 6 Jan to 16 Mar 2016
Location: The Square at World Square, 644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000


10. Santa Fest Open Air Cinema


The month leading up to Christmas calls for decorations and the soothing sounds of Christmas carols playing in shopping centres. What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to watch some Christmas movies under the twilight sky? This Santa-packed celebration is held annually at Darling Harbour, and is FREE for everyone!

There will be a variety of Christmas-themed movies screened throughout the month every Friday and Saturday from 6:30pm.This is a perfect opportunity to spend time with your loved ones and to enjoy the serene environment of Darling Harbour as your movie theatre. There’s a special Christmas Eve Santa’s Cinema screening on Christmas Eve,  so be sure to lock that into your calendar because you wouldn’t want to miss it!

Also, be sure to catch the fireworks display every Saturday night throughout that month, so come along and spend the last month of the year under magical lights and over festive movies.

Screening Dates: 26 Nov to 24 Dec 2016 (Friday and Saturday evenings + Christmas Eve)
Location: Village Green, Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000


11. Flickerfest


2016 marks Flickerfest’s 25th international short film festival. This festival screens some of the best short films from Australia and beyond. 2016 will have more than 2000 entries from talented Australian and international short filmmakers. Of these entries, only about 100 will be shortlisted for screening at Flickerfest in the heart of Bondi.

Not only does this festival celebrate the talents of budding filmmakers, it also involves great dedication from Flickerfest’s coordinators. Festival directors visit festivals from all over the globe to seek new films that have not yet been seen in Australia. Visitors will no doubt be in for a great sensory treat. Do join this annual event, and be sure to indulge some popcorn and bring something warm and snuggly if the weather decides to betray the supposed summer heat!

Screening Dates: 8 Jan to 17 Jan 2016
Location: Rear Bldg, Pavilion, off Campell Pde (opp, Beach Rd, Bondi Beach NSW 2026)


12. Strathfield Movies in the Park


Residents in Sydney’s Inner West rejoice! You don’t need to travel all the way to the city to enjoy an outdoor movie experience. Strathfield Park has its very own FREE movie screenings happening regularly on Saturday evenings throughout the year.

It’s the perfect opportunity to bring along some snacks and have a little picnic on the grass before the movie begins. With movies like Insurgent and the family-friendly Strange Magic scheduled for screening later this year, you can be sure there’s something for everyone at Strathfield Movies in the Park.  

Screening Dates: Selected Saturdays throughout the year
Location: Strathfield Park, Between Homebush and Chalmers Roads, Strathfield NSW 2135


Movie with a difference


You’re in for an enchanting experience that will have you rethink watching movies at home or at your local cinema. Switch things up a little and try one of these outdoor cinemas, you won’t regret it!

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