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Friday, 20 May 2016

LIFESTYLE | The definitive guide to quirky cinema

Cinema has changed greatly over the last five years, with new quirky viewing options popping up all the time.

Gone are the days where we'd go down to our local Cineworld and pay a good £20-£30 for tickets, food and drink for just two people. Although 'other' cinema experiences do tend to be around that price too, the fact of the matter is, doing something a little different offers you a lot more bang for your buck.

I can't believe I've just used that phrase.

But the thing is, people are no longer willing to pay that much when they can do exactly the same thing at home for free. We live a Netflix-and-chill era where when we're not hooking up between (and sometimes during) movies on the sofa at home, we're avid on chasing the next alternative or unusual option out there.

But, this isn't a bad thing. It means independent cinemas are doing better, because whilst there's also out there options like sitting in a hot tub on a roof to watch a movie, a lot of people are also going back to basics and enjoying the historic cinemas that show independent and more classic films.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, it's around about that time to start booking these all in. On one hand, you can choose oddball outdoor showings to soak up the warm weather or perhaps you might want to choose something more basic and indoors, which can always be followed by a slow stroll around the London sunshine.

Here's a quick guide to what's worth booking this summer.

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Chances are, you've already heard of the offbeat Rooftop Film Club. Not only are they a super approachable team (just look at their Twitter), but it's also a wise and popular choice for summer evenings spent in London. Rooftop Film Club are probably one of the most popular alternative cinema events and even host some showings at my ultimate fave, Queen of Hoxton. 


Okay, 'outdoor cinema' is pretty vague and is probably the most basic (but cheapest) on this list. Outdoor cinema does what it says on the tin - you, er, watch film outdoors. This is quite reliant on the weather, but what's nicer then kicking back on a blanket with the sun setting and watching a film amongst good company? You've got Pop Up Screens for the basic and affordable and take place all over London, whereas The Nomad Cinema, tends to pop up at more quirky locations, such as graveyards and stuff. And there's also the Luna Cinema, which pops up at really picturesque locations, such as the beautiful Warwick Castle this summer. Sundown Cinema is worth a mention too (and includes showings at the beautiful Luton Hoo which is ever so local to me, so is totally on my bucketlist this summer).

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If you can face getting into a hot tub with strangers, then Hot Tub Cinema is for you. And if not - you can rent a hot tub out between just your friends if there are enough of you. Hot Tub Cinema takes place on rooftops around London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Attendee's are generally encouraged to drink and dress up (or rather, dress down) and if you don't have enough friends interested, don't let this discourage you. The general audience is young quirky types (no old perverted men) so chances are you'll end up getting on with whoever's tub you may end up in.
Drive In Film Club is by the same team behind Rooftop Film Club, and I can personally vouch for this experience being awesome. Film showings tend to be set just that little bit later when it's dark, but obvs you won't get cold as you'll be in your car! The tickets are super cheap being that they're per car, meaning you can fit as many people as possible into your motor and split the cost. There's plenty of hot dogs on hand too, and yes, you do get popcorn and drink delivered to your car window. You WILL feel like you're in America.

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Pillow Cinema is dubbed the 'cosiest night in night out' and I'm not surprised considering how comfy it all looks - and isn't that what it's all about? I need to be comfy when watching a film, in fact, when I'm at home, I can't sit and watch a film unless I have my blanket with me, even if it's a hot day. Obviously dressing down and lounging about is slightly discouraged at most cinemas but Pillow Cinema encourages it! Personally, I think it's ideal for dates...

With two locations - one in Portobello and one in the uber cool Shoreditch, Electric Cinema brings plush on a cool level - they're basically very Instagram worthy and chances are you've spotted images from the cinemas on Pinterest already. Each cinema has super comfy chairs and sofas - and one even has beds! Plus there's food and drink that can be taken back to your seats, too, and again, I'm not just talking about your standard local cinema popcorn.

This one's for the foodies. The general process is that it mixes film with food and you attend a showing to be given a tray of small numbered containers on your allocated seat. Throughout the film, a screen-side light box will light up to reveal what package should be opened when - mixing canapes and cocktails with the films. But it's not just popcorn and hot dogs at Edible Cinema - the food is meant to add to the experience of the film. It's probably one of the most unique quirky cinema events out there and worth doing at least once in your life. Plus, you'll feel really cultural afterwards, too.

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If you don't know what Secret Cinema is yet, then it's probably not up your street. The not-so-secret event is based around a movie and consists of an immersive experience that often encourages attendees to dress up and get in character for, followed by a showing of film in a quirky location. Over the years, they've been praised for their showings of Star Wars and Back To The Future and, most notably, 28 Days Later. You can read my personal vague review of that here. It's pricey, so unless you're willing to throw yourself into it, you're probably not going to enjoy it as much as you could. That said, I'd recommend everyone to try a Secret Cinema event at least once in their life.

Backyard cinema actually started in someone's backyard, so this company really knows what it's like to start from the very beginning and still offer that relaxed home-away-from-home feel. The showings are set in unique locations and are sometimes accompanied by actors and live music. Each event is designed to feel like a night out. Their current big event is a showing of Romeo & Juliet in a church, with a choir, too. Tickets can vary from a basic place either on a deckchair or a sofa, to date night tickets that include a bottle of fizz, ice cream, popcorn and a blanket to share. So cute. The theme for summer 2017 is Miami Beach!

The Rex Cinema, Berkhamsted is a resorted art deco cinema which is perfect for you vintage types. Showings include classic and independent films, as well as more modern ones, also. But the venue itself is beyond beautiful, with plush red seats surrounding candlelit tables which, yes, you can get food brought over to. My sister took me once here for my birthday and I loved the whole experience. If I remember rightly, someone even comes on stage to introduce the film!

From hot tubs on a rooftop on a hot summer's day, to snuggling up on plush beds or sofas when the weather is just too cold outside - there's plenty of choice this summer and autumn when the local cinema just doesn't do it for you.

These are all I can think of off the top of my head but there are PLENTY more. Are there any I have missed that should be added to this list? Are there any you'd like to try? Let me know!

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  1. What a brilliant guide! I'd already heart of Hot Tub Cinema and the Rooftop Cinema and am planning to go to some events at the latter but lots of the others are new to me. Am bookmarking this for later :)

  2. What a great post! I had never heard of most of these types of cinema. The hot tub cinema sounds like so much fun.

  3. Hot tub and drive in cinema are the two I would most love to do x

  4. This is totally up my street I went to watch horror films in a warehouse on sofas while the moon came out it was such a magical experience. We have electric cinema in Birmingham in the oldest cinema in the uk X

    Miss Kitty Kaos - Adventures Of A Riot Grrrl

  5. I wish that there was stuff like this near us! Boring old cineworld for us! 😭

  6. I love the sound of all of these (apart from the zombie film...not my thing at all!) and I really want to go to the Rooftop cinema and the Electric Cinema.

  7. What a fantastic post! I want to go and try all of these! Especially that hot tub one! Thanks for all the info xx

  8. I LOVE MOVIES! I want to try every single one of these.
    Hopefully I can this summer :D
    Thanks so much for sharing sugar
    Charlotte x

  9. oh my, i need to go to every single one of these! a lot of them are in my bucket list


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