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10 cool drive-in cinemas in Kent and beyond

With social distancing de rigeur the summer, the local arts industry has had to find new ways to keep cinema alive. Cue the drive-in cinema. Tell me about it, stud!

Pull up to the bumper, baby! The 2020 drive-in has moved on from your basic 1980’s teen movie. Instead, brace yourself for ginormous LED screens, stand-up comedy, live DJ sets and roller-skating waiters laden with popcorn (be patient, I’m only just getting hang of my blades). You ready for the movie?

Pub In The Park’s Drive-in Garden Party

WHAT? Pub in the Park’s Big Drive In is heading to Tunbridge Wells this September! (Fri 18 – Sun 20 to be exact). Get your own private garden where you can park and party with your friends or family. A line-up of incredible music to dance to and of course, delicious pubs and restaurants serving food from top chefs, shopping from artisan producers and cocktails from the best bars.

WHERE? Eridge Park, Tunbridge Wells.

SHOWING: Ok so there won’t be any films but we thought you might still like to know about this one. Dance the night away with music from Becky Hill, Keane, Gabrielle, Craig Charles and more!

Drive-In Film Club

WHAT? Film fans and musical misfits, get your popcorn ready! Dreamland are transforming their park into a socially distanced drive-in cinema this August! Kicking off from Weds 5 til Fri 21 Aug.

WHERE? Dreamland, Margate.

SHOWING: Watch and enjoy a variety of films this summer from Back To The Future, Bohemian Rhapsody, Shark Tale, Rocketman, Finding Nemo, Cars and The Fast And Furious

Kent Drive-In Cinema

WHAT? Sit back, (popcorn in hand) relax and enjoy an alternative cinema experience from the comfort of your own car. Forgot your snacks? Don’t worry, here’s the snack menu and the instructions on how to order it.

WHERE? Betteshanger Park, Deal.

SHOWING: Catch a family classic like E.T, Finding Nemo, Toy Story or have a date night with showings like Jurassic Park, Grease, A Star Is Born kicking off from Thurs 30 Jul til Sun 9 Aug.

Cinestock Open Air & Drive-In Cinema

WHAT? Ok technically West Sussex BUT if you like cinema and comedy then Cinestock is where you’ll want to spend your summer. They have TWO arenas, one indoor and one outdoors cos with the UK’s unpredictable weather, who’d wanna watch a film with windscreen wipers on?

WHERE? South Of England Showground, Haywards Heath

SHOWING: Starting from Jul 31 you can catch: The Goonies, Joker, The Italian Job, Sister Act and Bridesmaids – just naming a few! Plus drive-in comedy nights with Reginald D. Hunter, Ed Byrne, Lee Nelson and more.

Open Air Film and Chill

WHAT? An outdoor extravaganza of socially distanced seating and cinema snacks. Movie lovers are encouraged to bring their own picnics and alcohol or drinks to this one, so stock up on the hot chicken wings and Moet and designate that driver right now.

WHERE? Cyclopark in Gravesend or Plumpton Racecourse in Lewes.

SHOWING: Their event in Gravesend is coming soon so keep your eyes pealed for that one! We’re loving their brand new ‘Cinema in a Box’ experience costing £150 – you just choose the film, they’ll drop everything off, and they come back to pick it up the next day. 

NO NEED TO DRIVE-IN TO THESE…

Outdoor Cinema Under The Stars

WHAT? Enjoy outdoor cinema under the stars this August (Fri 7 – Sun 16 Aug) at the stunning Hever Castle. Don’t forget your blanket or chair to watch iconic films in the open air. Enjoy an alfresco summer meal with the BBQ, Pizza Van, ice creams and bar available or bring your own picnic. Arrive from 6:30pm for the films to kick off at 8pm!

WHERE? Hever Castle.

SHOWING: Catch the following films: Anne of the Thousand Says, Romeo & Juliet, Hot Fuzz, Us, The Goonies and The Gentleman.

The Luna Cinema

WHAT? The Luna Cinema is back and bringing the experience of cinema to two of the most beautiful locations; Leeds Castle and Rochester Castle. No need to drive-in or bring your own chair, everyone will be assigned a pitch that will have chairs pre-laid out to make sure everyone is social distancing.

WHERE? Leeds Castle and Rochester Castle.

SHOWING: Framed as the world’s most beautiful castle, Leeds Castle (18-23 Aug) near Maidstone makes the perfect setting for cinema under the stars. Located on Cedar Lawn, it’s a truly magical setting and with a line-up like; Pretty Women, Rocketman, The Greatest Showman and more, it’s an experience not to be missed. Or watch your favourite film with the imposing fortress of the medieval Rochester Castle (29 Sep – 4 Oct)! Definitely something you can’t do everyday. Catch movies like; Grease, Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire and more!

FURTHER AFIELD…

Rooftop Film Club

WHAT? London-based Rooftop Film Club are switching it up for the summer and instead of their usual outdoor cinema offering are recreating a retro drive in with a whopping 40ft LED screen (and loos in case you need to go during the trailers!). 

WHERE? Parked up at a palace, no less! The screenings will be held on the grounds of iconic Grade II listed Alexandra Palace, London. 

SHOWING: Where to start? Until 26 Aug there’ll be two screenings a day, seven days a week with added family films on weekends. Our top picks include Grease, Back to the Future, Mean Girls, The Goonies, Up, Black Panther and family favourite Sing (because who can resist Matthew McConaughey as a cartoon Koala bear?). NHS workers go FREE. 

The Drive In

WHAT? A 1950s nostalgia fest with great films, classic cinema refreshments and stand-up comedy. The event is fully contact free with snacks ordered through an app and delivered to your car

WHERE? The giant LED screen is popping up in North London (Troubadour Meridian Water, Harbet Road, Edmonton, London, N18 3QQ) so definitely doable for an evening drive over. 

SHOWING: There are 54 screenings running until Sat 22 Aug including family favourites The Lion King (6 & 11 Aug) and Zootropolis (16 Aug) even retro classics like Dirty Dancing (10 & 11 Aug) and The Terminator (3 Aug).

At The Drive In

WHAT? At the Drive In is coming to 12 cities across the UK this summer and we love its quirkiness and family vibe. Expect the fabulous-sounding (after 7847 weeks of homeschooling) silent car discos plus bingo, family games and stand-up comedy pre-performance, plus a food delivery app that lets you order hot and cold treats to your car via rollerskating waiters. There’s also a registration plate ID system which means a handy ticket-less experience and of course all cars will be parked two metres apart.

WHERE? London and Brighton.

SHOWING: Head to East London (location TBA) between 16 – 21 Sep to see nine films, from the PG-rated Grease sing-a-long and Toy Story to the 15+ rated Joker. Or go to Brighton (location TBA) 1 – 4 Oct. Tickets start from £35 per car.

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