This year sees Backyard Cinema launching their biggest film events to date. Setting up camp at festive experience Winterville is the Christmas Labyrinth. I’ve been going to Backyard Cinema events for several years and am always impressed by the various theme they come up with. It’s safe to say they’ve surpassed their previous themes with a fantastically Christmassy immersive experience on Clapham Common.
The Christmas Labyrinth is one of two Backyard Cinema’s festive screening experiences – the other being The Snowman Experience at Winter Wonderland. This year, Backyard Cinema has taken over a large section of Winterville, with their huge, cosy tent hosting two screening rooms, a huge labyrinth adventure, cinemas bars, as well as a lobby bar with live entertainment.
Upon arrival, you can stop for a drink at the bar or head straight in to start your journey. Our evening began in a magical room, with a mysterious voice urging us to choose one of four different doors. I’m used to taking a special route to get to Backyard Cinema’s screening room, but this year’s Labyrinth experience is clearly much bigger, with many choices for the visitor. Although you are encouraged to take a separate door from your friend, my pal and I decided to take the same one and headed into the ‘Jester’ door, being the pair of jokers are we (according to my friend!). Our journey through the maze was disorientating, confusing, but exciting as we figured out what way to go. Finally, we ended up in a twinkling forest – which made me feel like I was in Narnia – which opened to the screening room.
While the previous Backyard beanbags have always been comfortable, there’s some higher, bulkier and even cosier ones for their new Winterville home. My friend and I claimed a good set of beanbags with a prime position and headed to the nearby bar for some festive drinks. There’s a selection of craft beer, soft drinks, wine, prosecco and winter warmers. I’m a sucker for hot booze at the time of year so a mulled cider and rum was an easy choice… one I made twice as it happens. As you would expect for a cinema, there’s the typical snacks, including Proper Corn popcorn and pic and mix sweets. The bar is open throughout the screening should you feel the need to refresh yourself.
On our visit last week, we were watching the musical film The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron. We had never seen it before and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. Throughout the film, I was really comfortable all settled in the beanbag, although I did use one of the BC provided blankets towards the last half hour to warm me up even further. Overall, it was a entertaining evening and the labyrinth was a creative and fun way to enter the cinema. Tickets are already sold out for many dates in the run-up to Christmas so I recommend buying them ASAP.
- Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth runs until 22 December 2018. At Winterville (entrance just north of the Long Pond), Clapham Common, SW4 9BX. Nearest stations: Clapham Common or Clapham South. Tickets: Adults from £18.98, Children from £9.98. Stalls, premium and loungers available. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
- Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2. Under 6 January 2019. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the Snowman Experience.
To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.
For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.
As the temperatures drop and the nights set in, cosying up in front of a good film is more appealing than ever. This autumn, Bluebird Chelsea is launching a weekly movie night with films, food and cocktails. Cointreau will transform the King’s Road venue’s cinema room into a wintry orangery.
Every Tuesday evening, film fans can enjoy hot food, Cointreau cocktails and popcorn as they settle down to watch a movie. Sit on a comfy sofa or chair surrounded by orange tress as you watch films that have been chosen for their popular soundtracks. Among those being screened include The Greatest Showman, Dreamgirls, Moulin Rouge! and Whiplash. By the time December arrives, things will be taking a festive turn with Love Actually and The Holiday.
On arrival, guests will receive a welcome drink of Cointreau Fizz (Cointreau, sparkling water and freshly squeezed lime juice). Cointreau will also be serving two popular concoctions from their wooden pop-up bar: Royal Sidecar (Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal, Cointreau and freshly squeezed lemon juice) and Hot Cointreau Mulled Cider (spiked Cointreau cider made with Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cider, star anise, cloves and garnished with a cinnamon stick and slices of orange and apple).
Meanwhile, your appetites are also fulfilled for as your ticket includes a Bluebird hot dog (spiced pork, pickled cabbage and chilli mayo) or a vegan burger (mushroom and edamame with sriracha mayo and baby gem). Additional food and drinks can purchased on the night.
The film programme is as follows:
30 October : The Greatest Showman
6 November : Dreamgirls
13 November : Moulin Rouge!
20 November : Whiplash
27 November : Love Actually
4 December : The Holiday.
- Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington. Tickets: £25 (includes film, welcome Cointreau cocktail and a Bluebird hotdog or vegan burger). For more information, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website.
To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.
While your latest cinema is sure to show all the latest releases, there’s not really that much atmosphere in modern screening rooms. Fortunately, parks, rooftops and other open spaces come to life over the summer as roaming film companies set up camp. These pop-up cinemas can offer Londoners the chance to see their favourite movies on the big screen in an alfresco environment. However, if the weather’s not too kind, there are also immersive, undercover experiences such as Backyard Cinema. Here’s a guide to the capital’s alfresco and pop-up cinema offerings this summer.
- 21 March until 6 September : Backyard Cinema – Mission To Mars
Watch your favourite sci-fi film in a ‘spaceship’ for an immersive cinematic experience. Tickets: Adults from £17.50, Children (under 12) from £9.50. Date night package for two: £75 (includes snacks, bottle of Prosecco and blankets). Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle or Borough. For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website. Read Metro Girl’s review to find out more.
- 3 May – 31 August : Rooftop Film Club
Pop-up cinema returns to rooftops across the capital, screening new and classic films. Venues include Bussey Building (Peckham), Queen of Hoxton (Shoreditch) and Roof East (Stratford). Tickets start from £14/95/£15.96 (includes seating and wireless headphones). For more information and tickets, visit Rooftop Film Club website.
- 22 May – 6 October : Luna Cinema
Luna Cinema will be popping up at various venues across the capital this summer. Locations include Victoria Embankment Gardens, Brockwell Lido, Osterley Park and House, Danson House (Bexleyheath), Southwark Park, Morden Hall Park, One New Change, Hatfield House, Wimbledon Park, Tooting Common, Crystal Palace Park, Horniman Museum, Greenwich Park, Kenwood House, Wandsworth Park, Opera Holland Park, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, Victoria Tower Gardens, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Fulham Palace, Dulwich Park, Chiswick House & Gardens, Battersea Park and Alexandra Palace. Ticket prices vary depending on venue and package. For tickets, visit the Luna Cinema website.
- 2 June – 28 August : London Bridge City Summer Festival Screenings
Free film screenings most Tuesdays throughout the summer. Get to the steps early to grab a spot. Movies include The Greatest Showman, La La Land, Grease, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Beauty And The Beast, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, The BFG and Into The Woods. 7pm. Free. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, Borough, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. For listings, visit the London Bridge City website. Read the rest of this entry
Backyard Cinema Snow Kingdom review: Travel through an ice cave to a fantastical festive film screening
Now November is here and the clocks have gone back, it’s all getting a bit festive. The nights are drawing in and it’s getting a bit cold and gloomy outside, so no wonder we have a need to brighten up our evenings. The appeal of cosying up in front of your favourite movie seems that bit more appealing. This winter, roaming cinema club Backyard Cinema’s new Snow Kingdom theme is bringing a bit of fairy tale magic to your favourite festive film.
To those uninitiated, Backyard Cinema create immersive cinematic experiences in various unique venues. I’ve previously watched their Romeo + Juliet screening accompanied by a live choir in a church and their ‘Lost World’ and ‘Miami Beach’ themes in their current home at Mercato Metropolitano. The premise of their latest theme is a ‘hidden ice kingdom buried in London’.
Backyard Cinema is located in the street food haven of Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. There’s a host of Italian and other international food and drink stalls, so you could easily make a night of it and come for dinner before watching a movie. The entrance to Backyard Cinema is certainly intriguing with a small tunnel beckoning you in. An attendant outside offers you a lamp to guide you on your journey through to the Snow Kingdom, which certainly adds a touch of Christmas magic to proceedings and provides good Instagram fodder. The entrance and the subsequent ice cave are fabulous, you’ve really got to applaud BC for their great set design. We carefully edged our way over the moving drawbridge through the ice cave, before arriving at the warm enclaves of the screening room.
Before heading to our seats, we popped to the bar serving a choice of winter warmers, craft beer, bubbly, snacks and other refreshments. As it was still quite warm in the capital on the night of my visit, I wasn’t quite ready for a hot toddy so opted for my usual g&t with a packet of sweets and gourmet popcorn to share. The screening room itself was decked out like a ballroom in a grand castle, with chandeliers, tapestries and a throne. On the night in question, we were there to seeing the new live action Beauty And The Beast. We grabbed a pair of bean bags loungers near the front and settled down to watch Emma Watson and co. The surroundings of the Snow Kingdom could easily be the film’s setting of the Beast’s castle so they complemented each other well.
Through a combination of the setting and the film itself, we were certainly transported to a magical kingdom for the evening, so I would definitely recommend to everyone for a festive and fun night out. Children in particular will love the journey through the ice cave, while Instagrammers have a lot of posing potential with the throne and the drawbridge. Over the season, BC will be screening a selection of festive and family classic to new releases, such as the Princess Bride, E.T., Labyrinth, Harry Potter, Baby Driver, La La Land, so there’s something for everyone. A lot of screenings running up until Christmas are sold out already so I’d advise booking asap if you’re interested.
- Backyard Cinema: Snow Kingdom is on from now until early 2018. Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. Tickets from £17. For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
For a review of the Christmas 2018 Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth, click here.
Tooting’s bingo hall started life as a cinema in the 1930s. Read about its history…
In cinemas’ heyday in the early half of the 20th century, there were film theatres on every high street, often several on the same road. However, in recent decades, a host of cinemas have been bulldozed or converted into bingo halls, churches and even pubs. However, while one such venue is no longer screening movies, the stunning, original interiors have been largely preserved.
In the heart of Tooting stands a very grand branch of Gala Bingo. Located on Mitcham Road, Gala is residing in the former Granada Tooting, a Grade I listed, Art Deco cinema. Although bingo players are welcome to visit during game-playing hours, I joined a guided tour early one Sunday morning during Open House London for a more in-depth look and to find out about the history.
The cinema was originally built as one of a chain, owned by Essex-born media baron Sidney Bernstein (1899-1993) and his younger brother Cecil (1904-1981). After his eldest sibling Selim was killed during World War I in 1915, as next in line Sidney inherited the family business following the death of his property tycoon father Alexander (1870-1922). The business included several music halls and the Empire group of ‘Kinemas’ in Ilford, Plumstead, East Ham, West Ham and Willesden. Together, Sidney and Cecil established the Granada Cinema chain – named after the Spanish city of Granada after the former had been there on holiday. Granada is home to the stunning Alhambra complex, so the name would have sounded very exotic to the average early 20th century Brit, most of whom would have never been abroad. Sidney wanted people to be drawn to the cinema itself, rather than the film, and thought of his businesses as temples of entertainment. Although his initial ‘Kinemas’ were converted music halls and theatres, his first purpose-built cinema was the Granada Dover, which opened in January 1930 (it was demolished in 2014). Read the rest of this entry
‘Jungle Juice’ cocktails, abandoned ruins and super comfy seating at Backyard Cinema: The Lost World
As one of London’s roaming film clubs, Backyard Cinema gives movie fans the chance to watch their favourite films in more comfortable surroundings than your typical Odeon or Vue. I’ve previously checked out BC’s outdoor summer screenings at Camden Market and, earlier this year, watched Romeo + Juliet accompanied by a live choir in a church. The last Backyard event I attended – those star-crossed lovers – brought two different elements to one of my favourite films so when I heard about the company’s latest experience, I had high hopes.
Backyard Cinema have created a Lost World in a corner of the capital’s latest foodie paradise Mercado Metropolitano. The premise is screenings of your favourite adventure movies complemented by a suitably atmospheric setting. After lunch at one of the Mercado’s Italian food stands, it didn’t take long for us to find the entrance to the Lost World. A friendly staff member, dressed in a khaki safari ensemble, greeted us outside a rather diminutive entrance and explained the ‘perils’ of our journey to our seats. We then crouched down and made our way through the ‘abandoned jungle’, with low-lighting, eerie calls and nature sound effects putting you in the frame of mind. Finally, I tentatively jumped into the foam pit (the lighting made me somewhat unsure of judging how deep I would plunge), but found there was plenty of the soft stuff to cushion my landing as I emerged into the cinema.
The screening room was full of comfortable bean bag chairs against a backdrop of what I would describe as ‘Indiana Jones chic’ interiors and continuing sound effects. Before taking our bags, we headed to the bar and embraced the theme by ordering the cocktails, ‘Jungle Juice’ and ‘Fire Monkey’. We went in blind as had no idea what was in them, but they were fruity, suitably alcoholic and tasted good. We accompanied our sweet drinks with even more sugar – popcorn and sweets – as we were clearly having the afternoon off being healthy (well, it is the cinema!).
Finally, the movie. On this occasion, we were here to see Finding Dory – the recent sequel to Finding Nemo. Backyard are screening a lot of classic adventure films such as Goonies and Jurassic Park, but also a few new ones too. One of the first things which struck me was that no one was ruining my shot of the screen. I often find heads in the way, but the spaced out bean bags meant this wasn’t a problem. I usually get pretty uncomfortable in traditional cinema seating, but settled back in my bean bag and was incredibly cosy and settled. The film itself, was exactly what I hoped it would be and I really enjoyed it.
Overall, we had a good few hours in the Lost World. The quirky entrance and the décor of the screening room was a fun way to start proceedings. The staff were, as ever, friendly and helpful. I would particularly recommend the Lost World to families as they have screenings during the day on weekends. The 1hr 45 minute film whizzed by in the comfort of our bean bags… which I’m not considering buying for my own home actually.
- Backyard Cinema: Lost World, Mercado Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. Tickets start from £16.50. The Lost World runs until 11 November 2016. For booking, visit Backyard Cinema’s website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
This autumn, film fans are in for a treat as they journey to a forgotten jungle to watch their favourite action and adventure movies. London’s theatrical cinema experts Backyard Cinema are creating a lost world, full of ancient labyrinths and tropical temple ruins.
Launching this September, explorers will be able to watch classic childhood movies, including The Jungle Book, Hook and The Goonies as well as action-packed blockbusters Jurassic Park, Predator and The Legend of Tarzan.
Tickets holders will enter through a secret entrance of temple ruins as they travel to a land that time forgot. After finally emerging into the jungle, the screening room will feature a huge screen and giant beanbags surrounded by tropical trees and plants, jungle sounds and temple ruins. Before settling down to watch the film, enjoy a jungle-themed cocktail from the bar.
The Lost World is the latest offering from Backyard Cinema, a roaming, theatrical cinema which started in the back garden of its founder. Among their productions include Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet at St Mary’s Church and Winter Night Garden at Winterville. Backyard Cinema are famous for bringing extra dimensions to classic films using set builds, actors and live music.
Backyard founder Dominic Davies, said: ‘We can’t wait for people to experience the Lost World. This is a theme that is close to our hearts, this is a true homage to the action and adventure movies we grew up on and keep coming back to. We want to enhance your nostalgia for them by creating a real sense of adventure as we take you on a journey to another world. A great excuse to all be kids again for a few hours. Just imagine watching Hook, in a JUNGLE!’
- Backyard Cinema: Lost World takes place from 16 September – 11 November 2016. At Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. Tickets: Standard £16.50, Child £9.50, Cocktail Ticket (includes jungle-themed cocktail0 £25, Date Night for two £65 (includes x2 tickets, bubbly, popcorn, ice cream and blankets). For tickets, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
- For Metro Girl’s review of Backyard Cinema: Lost World, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London in November, click here.
Londoners don’t get anywhere near the amount of warm weather we would like. So when it is sunny, we all head outside. Of course, this leaves film fans in a predicament – who wants to be stuck indoors when the weather is so glorious? Over the past few years, pop-up and open air cinemas have been steadily rising in popularity and this summer will be no different. Of course, sometimes the weather isn’t so kind, so many roaming film clubs are hosting screenings in unique London indoor venues as well. Here’s a guide to the capital’s open-air and pop-up cinemas so you can enjoy some alfresco entertainment with an ice-cold beer or glass of wine… sounds good doesn’t it?
- March until 30 July : Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet With A Live Choir
Backyard Cinema are marking the 20th anniversary of Baz Luhrmann’s cult classic Romeo + Juliet with a screening accompanied by a live choir. Ice cream, bubbly and popcorn will be on sale. Tickets start from £20. St Mary’s Church, Wyndham Place, York Street, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Baker Street and Edgware Road. For booking, visit Backyard Cinema’s website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.
- 3 May – 17 September : Rooftop Film Club
The Rooftop Film Club is for rooftops only (obviously). Screening a mix of films including recent releases and classics. Venues include the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, the Bussey Building in Peckham Rye, Roof East in Stratford, Tobacco Dock in Shadwell and Kensington Roof Gardens. Ticket includes headphones, blankets and deckchairs. Tickets: £15. To find out more, visit the Rooftop Film Club website.
- 22 May – 24 September : The Nomad Cinema
Travelling cinema company returns this summer with a new roll call of venues. Locations include St Mark’s Mayfair, Paddington Street Gardens, Grosvenor Square, Bushy Park, Hoxton Hotel, Brown Hart Gardens, Royal Academy Of Arts, Belgrave Square, Brompton Cemetery, Victory Park East Village, Hyde Park Lido and Queen’s Park. Ticket prices £5-£33 (vary depending on package, some include food and drinks and other bonuses). To find out more, visit the Nomad Cinema website.
- 2 June – 10 September : Cult Screens
Roaming UK pop-up screen will be coming to London for several dates at Twickenham’s York House Gardens, featuring your favourite movies with a twist. Tickets: Floor cushions £12, Deckchairs £14.50, Bean Bag £16. York House Gardens, Richmond Road, Twickenham, TW1 3AA. Nearest station: Twickenham. For more information, visit Cult Screens. Read the rest of this entry
Twenty years ago, Australian film-maker Baz Luhrmann turned Shakespeare on his head with his movie adaptation of Romeo + Juliet. Set in the vivid and violent setting of ‘Verona Beach’, a very youthful Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes played the star-crossed lovers. Thanks to the photography, acting and soundtrack, the 1996 film soon became a cult classic.
To mark the film’s 20th anniversary, pop-up film club Backyard Cinema are hosting a very special screening of the movie, complete with a live choir, in the stunning Georgian church St Mary’s in Marylebone. Last week, I went along with a friend (who I was surprised to find out had never seen the film) to check out Backyard’s take on one of my favourite flicks.
Upon entering the darkly lit building, we were immediately drawn into the atmosphere with the church decorated Luhrmann-style, with neon crosses and a floral adorned altar – immediately making you think of the setting of Romeo and Juliet’s marriage and deaths [spoiler alert ;-)] in the movie. There are various ticket options available depending on seating and packages, but we had a VIP package of cosy seats, along with bubbly and snacks. Open for a couple of hours prior to the screening, the crypt downstairs is somewhat of a pop-up nightspot with a licensed bar and food vendors selling popcorn, ice cream and sweets with plenty of seating dotted around so you can have a chat and mingle before spending two hours in silence watching the film.
As someone who has watched the movie many times before, I loved watching it in this environment – it certainly beats my old sofa and DVD player. With the soundtrack being such an integral part of the film’s success, the Some Voices Choir really bring a whole new dimension to it. With seamless transition, the choir sang tracks such as Kissing You and Young Hearts Run Free during the pivotal moments, which really brought the tragedy and romance of the movie to life. For fans of the film, I highly recommend you get a ticket while you can as they’re selling out fast. And if you haven’t seen it at all, you’re in for a treat.
- Backyard Cinema are hosting screenings of Romeo + Juliet from now until July 2016 at St Mary’s Church, Wyndham Place, York Street, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Baker Street and Edgware Road. Tickets start from £20. For more information and tickets, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
For a guide to London’s pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
It was off limits to the public for 35 years. However, 2015 saw the reopening of the Regent Street Cinema, the oldest cinema in Britain. Situated moments from Oxford Circus, the Grade II-listed cinema now shows a wide range of quality world cinema including current and classic releases, as well as hosts special screenings, workshops, lectures and events.
Situated on the University Of Westminster’s Regent Street campus, the stunning Victorian building played host to the first ever film screening to a British audience back in 1896. French film pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumière brought their cinématographe to the capital on tour with 54 people paying a shilling to watch 40 second clips of moving images – a major landmark in the history of film. During World War II, it – like many UK cinemas – screened newsreels. Following war in 1951, it also made history by hosting the first UK screening of an X-rated film – La Vie Commence Demain, a French movie featuring graphic violence. In its heyday, the cinema was a favourite of the late Princess Margaret. However, in 1980, the cinema was closed off to public and became a student lecture hall for Westminster students.
Back in 2012, the University of Westminster launched a campaign to fund a £6.1 million restoration to restore the cinema to its former glory for both students and the public to enjoy. Following opening last year, the 1920s Art Deco refit has been restored, as has the stunning domed ceiling and 1936 John Compton organ. It’s now the only cinema in the country which can show 16mm, 35mm, Super 8 and 4K digital formats.
Currently, the Regent Street Cinema is running a limited offer to sign up for free one year membership. Usually costing £40 (seniors/students £20) a year, you’ll get discounts on tickets, no booking fees and priority booking to special events, as well as other perks throughout the year.
- Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent Street, W1B 2UW. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Regents Park. For listings and bookings, visit the Regent Street Cinema website.