I am not sure who invented outdoor movies, and I guess the concept is the modern take on the 1950’s drive in movie theatres, but the modern conceptualisation is so much fun. If there has ever been a city designed for outdoor movies, it has to be Sydney. How could you not think that the backdrop of the harbour is not the perfect movie back drop? It may be that the backdrop is so magical that you are distracted form your movie. Having said that if your movie is very dull, this is possibly a great thing, no?
Lady Macquarie’s Chair sits opposite the cove from the Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the distance. It’s not really a tourist thing because of the planning involved and I am not sure how many people want to spend their limited time in a country watching a movie (sometimes and older one) but it is truly a unique experience that is unlikely to be repeated or even offered in many countries around the world.
The 2016 season was sponsored by St George and therefore the naming rights are St George Outdoor Cinema. You can use the link for all sorts of detailed information you may need.
I went with a girlfriend. She works in events. So here is the process to ensure the night runs as smooth as possible. The formula/ process is below.
- Park the car.
- Arrive and collect cushion for seat.
- Book into dinner – it’s first come, first served. So the early bird gets the best seat for dinner. I strongly recommend the extra money to ensure you have a table for dinner. Some nights this is only available to corporates.
- Claim seat for the movie. If you claim up the back, you are the first to leave through back gate.
- Line up for drinks. Splitting up is actually the best thing to do – one do drinks and one do food.
- Food is expensive and despite the fact the portions look itsy bitsy, you will have enough. TIP – the salads are meant as a meal not a side.
- You need to leave a deposit for your jug of drinks (should you be drinking a jug) so be sure to allow time to return the jug and claim deposit. This year sponsorship by a vodka company made for yummy drinks.
- After dinner, purchase an ice cream for dessert and return to seats for the show.
- Enjoy the movie.
Other Outdoor Cinemas in Sydney
Moonlight Cinema has been around for a long time in Sydney Summers and it is as sun ominous with summer nights as the bats that fly overhead. Located in Centennial Park, half the charm was its lack of fuss and the rustic approach, but in recent years and added competition they have had to up their game and over more. The success of Sydney now sees them operating in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Port Douglas.
Open Air Cinema is sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s and located at Bondi. I believe they do other locations in other cities. The beanbags are supposedly the draw card here and a cheaper event than the St George Outdoor Cinema. With the chilled and relaxed location of Bondi Beach and a potential swim after on a hot night, it is hard to go past as the best location.
Starlight Cinema is the last one to mention. Starlight Cinema is located in North Sydney and they do offer a large number of kid friendly movies. When showing kids movies, they have music playing and often games before hand. The kids have a hoot and really love the experience even if it is a movie they have seen a number of times before.
I think the suburban cinemas are slightly better for catering towards children. The outdoor cinemas are not an event or activity that you can look up during the week and go. If you are able to do that it must be a really terrible movie or you are lucky. You need to buy tickets at the beginning of the season and commit from there. I watched Cinderella Man in the pouring rain. I am not joking, I took my shoes off as there was a river running under my chair. The movies go on in rain. They are cancelled during thunderstorms. Just noting that for you.