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Outdoor movies: top 10 open-air cinemas in Australia this summer

Posted by Sophie Davies on December 14th, 2011

With summer hotting up down under, it’s outdoor movie season – so we’ve focused on the top 10 best outdoor cinemas in Australia, with hip rooftop screenings, beachside film festivals and open-air park soirees up for grabs. Pack a picnic, take a plus one or even a pooch, and enjoy a romantic evening under the stars. And, after the credits roll, you can stroll off into the sunset for a happy ending at one of our recommended boutique hotels

Rooftop Cinema in Melbourne

1 ROOFTOP CINEMA, MELBOURNE
Where? Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street
When? Until 31 January

For Manhattan-style views of Melbourne, you can’t beat the uber-cool Rooftop Cinema, perched loftily atop club- and bar-packed Curtin House on Swanston Street in the CBD. Recover from the heart-pumping climb upstairs with a cocktail at the open-air bar, before settling into a deckchair for the movie. This urban eyrie always attracts an up-for-it crowd, and serves tasty snacks to fuel the faithful. Highlights this season include cult Brit flicks Submarine and Trainspotting as well as US scarefest Jaws.

Get a room! Roll into bed at Apartment 401 in Melbourne, a short walk away.

Moonlight Cinema in Melbourne2 MOONLIGHT CINEMA, VARIOUS LOCATIONS

For movies under the stars, make a date with Moonlight Cinema, which screens cult and classic flicks in alfresco locations across Australia, including Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Port Douglas until 25 March. You can even bring canine companions along to the 15 January Aussie feel-good flick Red Dog in Melbourne. New York-style street food, bars, gourmet picnics and bean bags can be yours, depending on the venue.

Get a room! For crashing out after, try the Lyall Hotel and Spa in Melbourne; Establishment Hotel in Sydney; NB City holiday house in Adelaide; Spicers Balfour Hotel in Brisbane or a stylish holiday house in Port Douglas.

St Kilda Openair cinema in Melbourne3 ST KILDA OPENAIR, MELBOURNE
Where? St Kilda Sea Baths, 10–18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda Beach
When? Until 9 February

Offering live music at sunset and movies as dusk falls, St Kilda Openair in Melbourne serves up sexy vistas of the beach and sea from its vantage point on the roof of St Kilda Sea Baths. Top pick Board Riders Night on 16 January brings new surf and kite-boarding flicks to the bay. Pack your own picnic or gorge on free ice-cream at Friday’s Sundae Sessions.

Get a room! For a stylish stay a stroll away, book into St Kilda hotel The Prince.

4 ST GEORGE OPENAIR CINEMA, SYDNEY
Where? Mrs Macquaries Point
When? 11 January–18 February

Team views of Sydney Opera House, the harbour and famous bridge with a movie session at Mrs Macquaries Point: this outdoor cinema in Sydney screens mainstream and arthouse numbers, including Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Get a room! Slick bolthole Diamant Hotel Sydney in Kings Cross is within easy reach.

5 TROPFEST, SYDNEY
Where? The Domain, and various venues around Australia
When? 17–19 February

At Tropfest, the world’s largest short film festival, beard-toting types flock to the Domain park in Sydney to see free screenings of the main contenders, with the winner announced on Sunday 19 February. You can also catch a slice of the action via satellite, at various locations around Australia. The forthcoming 2012 festival celebrates its 20th anniversary, so expect music, entertainment and bars.

Get a room! As Tropfest was started in a  Darlinghurst café, we recommend staying there, in one of our favourite Sydney hotels, Medusa.

Flickerfest outdoor cinema in Sydney6 FLICKERFEST, SYDNEY
Where? Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Beach
When? 6–15 January

Flickerfest, the first beachside outdoor cinema in Sydney, brings bite-size chunks of movie goodness to Bondi Pavilion, screening top Australian and international short films with organic food and drink at the panoramic festival bar. After Sydney, Flickerfest tours nationally until May.

Get a room! Stay over at vibrant Sydney boutique hotel Medusa in Darlinghurst.

7 BONDI OPENAIR, SYDNEY
Where? Dolphin Lawn, beside Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Beach
When? 29 January–4 March

Sister to St Kilda Openair, Bondi Openair cinema offers a heady mix of bands, Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and alfresco screenings at beaut Bondi Beach.

Get a room! Check out our hand-picked boutique hotels in Sydney for somewhere stylish to stay.

8 THE SHADOW ELECTRIC, MELBOURNE
Where? Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Street, Collingwood
When? 12 January–April

Located within the gorgeous, riverside grounds of Abbotsford Convent, the Shadow Electric outdoor cinema in Melbourne brings indie flicks to a hip inner-north hotspot, with mellow bars and cheap eats on tap. Documentaries, comedies, drama and teen-angst all make the line-up, including Eighties’ hit Heathers.

Get a room! Bed down in nearby Richmond at Villa Donati boutique hotel or stylish self-catering stay Andre’s Mews.

9 COBURG DRIVE-IN, MELBOURNE
Where? 155 Newlands Road, Coburg
When? Whenever you like!

With three screens, space for 900 cars and a Fifties-style diner, Melbourne outdoor cinema the Coburg Drive-In is an institution. Grab a hotdog and some popcorn, and settle back in your wheels for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Get a room! Since you’re driving, hit the road and head south to arty getaway The Cullen hotel in Prahran.

Starlight Cinema in Sydney10 STARLIGHT CINEMA, SYDNEY
Where? North Sydney Oval, Miller Street
When? 18 January–4 March

Soft grass beckons at Starlight Cinema in the sporty North Sydney Oval. Highbrow types can furrow their foreheads watching We Need to Talk About Kevin; lowbrow fans can canoodle to Crazy Stupid Love. Catch some zeds at Establishment Hotel in Sydney across the harbour.

For more Australian destination inspiration and tips on activities in Sydney, hotels in Melbourne and more, visit Mr & Mrs Smith.

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2 Responses to “Outdoor movies: top 10 open-air cinemas in Australia this summer”

  1. Great concept for a theater!

    By Alfred Murphy

  2. Why doesn’t Perth get a mention!!!I know they have open air cinemas there because my daughter lives in Perth. Its such a beautiful clean city, awesome restaurants, fantastic beaches and great weather but it often gets forgotten. Much prefer the West Coast to East Coast. Check it out Mr and Mrs Smith!!!

    By maggie glass

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