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 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 the latest what‘s on guide, click here.
The temperatures may be cooling as September sets in, but, if like me, you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, then it’s worth paying a visit to Backyard Cinema’s Miami Beach. To those unaware, Backyard Cinema create immersive cinematic experiences in a variety of unique venues. I’ve previously visited their outdoor screenings at Camden Market, Romeo + Juliet accompanied by a live choir in a Marylebone church and last autumn’s ‘Lost World’ experience.
BC’s Miami Beach promised to offer a slice of Florida sunshine in south London. The cinema is located in a corner of Mercato Metropolitano – an Italian-style foodie market in Elephant and Castle. Despite the rainy weather the night of our visit, the buzzing atmosphere, the signs for gelato and Aperol Spritz certainly had a summery vibe. Fortunately, the cinema and a lot of the Mercato are under cover. Having visited Miami two years ago, the grand entrance to the cinema certainly evoked the vibe and architecture of South Beach with its baby pink, Art Deco design, palm trees and flamingos.
After entering through the ‘hotel door’, we were in the surf club, where we exchanged our shoes for brand new flip-flops (which you can keep afterwards). Although admittedly a rather unusual request from a cinema, the reason for this is to keep the sand clean. Finally, we arrived in the screening room, full of golden sand, a booming Eighties tracklist, a setting sun and a beach bar. The room is full of comfortable bean bags and blankets should you get cold (we didn’t… the temperature was perfect).
We headed to the beach bar to get fuel for the movie. The bar sells a selection of tropical cocktails, craft beers, wine and snacks. Many of the products on offer are from British independent producers which is always good to see. To get us suitably in the mood, we ordered some Pina Colada cocktails, which came served in palm tree glasses with a resealable straw, the latter I found very handy in protecting against a potential spilled drink situation which has happened to me more times than I can count.
Finally, we settled into our beanbags and got comfortable, watching the sun set before the main feature began. The film of our choice was the Oscar winner Moonlight, which tells the story of a gay African-American in three periods of his life. The movie is set in the Miami suburb of Liberty City so made a nice tie-in with the setting of the screening. It was quite surreal watching a movie on a bean bag while sinking my feet into the sand, but was a comfortable and relaxing experience.
Overall, it was a fun and quirky way to watch your favourite movie or a newer release. With only a few weeks less before the concept gives way to the upcoming Snow Kingdom theme (from 25 October), there isn’t much time left to visit so I recommend you book soon. With London’s September weather disappointingly colder than usual, it’s a great way to recapture that warm summery feeling… for a few hours at least.
- Backyard Cinema: Miami Beach is on until 6 October 2017. At Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. Tickets from £16.50. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
‘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.