It’s almost impossible to stay indoors during the warmer months in Sydney. But if you’ve ever seen a photo of the city in bright, summery daylight, you probably already knew that. And going to the movies? When the beach, and the parks, and the beer gardens, and the sparkling swimming pools, and all the beautiful people who frequent them are beckoning? Even harder. Which is why the city’s outdoor cinemas are such a godsend. Each summer, locals frantically await the programming line-up (generally a well-curated mix of first-run films and beloved classics) for open-air cinemas in the park, on the harbour, and at the beach. Booze hounds crowd into the courtyard of one of the city’s buzziest pubs for a free film each Monday and those with nostalgia on the noggin head out west to the area’s last remaining drive-in for milkshakes and some old-school ‘necking’. Grab a seat (or pull up the car) at one of these five fantastic outdoor viewing venues.
The lawns of the Belvedere Amphitheatre Centennial Park are dotted with movie-lovers every night of the week for three months each summer. The program is a mix of current blockbusters, cult classics (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Back to the Future) and sneak previews. You can bring a blanket or order food and drink from the stalls; get in early to hire a $9 bean bed to spread out for the movie, which starts at sundown.
St. George OpenAir Cinema
Watching the screen rise from the waters of Sydney Harbour, with the bridge and the setting sun in the background, is one of those summertime experiences cherished by everyone who lives here. Tickets for the season are always in high demand (nearly all of the films are first-run – and in the southern summer, that means lots of holiday blockbusters and Oscar contenders), so you’ll need to purchase quickly when they go on sale in mid-December.
The Beresford Hotel
The courtyard behind the historic Beresford buzzes with a fun, laidback scene any night of the week. But on Mondays during the summer, things slow down a bit with crowds who want to kick back over a complimentary beloved movie (The Goonies, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) while they sip on wine and enjoy a $15 pasta dish.
The Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinema program actually visits six cities around Australia each summer, and the Sydney leg takes place on a large expanse of lawn overlooking gorgeous Bondi Beach. From 6 p.m. each night, movie lovers arrive to hear live music and grab food and drink from local eateries (this year saw a menu provided by Doughboy Pizza).
Skyline Drive-In Cinemas
The lone remaining drive-in in Sydney is actually located about an hour west in Blacktown, but it’s more than worth the drive. Get in early for an authentic ‘50s-diner meal at the Skyline Diner (you’d be mad not to order the battered onion rings) before you park and watch a first-run Hollywood blockbuster under the stars.