It has been a slow start to summer in Perth this year but the warm weather finally seems to have arrived and looks like it will be sticking around for a good while yet. One of my favourite ways to enjoy a balmy evening is with a picnic followed by a movie at one of the many outdoor cinemas. Given the growing popularity of outdoor screenings over the last couple of years, there is now a plethora of cinemas located all over the Perth metropolitan area, and with each location offering its own unique experience, there really is something to suit everyone.
My top three picks for outdoor cinemas are the Ford Focus Moonlight Cinema at Kings Park, the Somerville Theatre at the University of Western Australia, and Movies by Burswood at the Burswood Entertainment Complex.
Ford Focus Moonlight Cinema
This cinema is set in the beautifully manicured Synergy Parkland at Kings Park and runs until 25 March 2012. Parking is readily available in the car park next to the Zamia Cafe on May Drive, as well as on the surrounding verge areas.
A different movie is screened every night and are mainly Hollywood blockbusters (like New Years Eve, War Horse and The Descendents) with a couple of oldies (think Breakfast at Tiffany's and Monty Python) thrown in as well. Tickets can either be purchased online or at the box office which opens at 6.30 pm. The movie screening starts at around 8.00 pm. Wednesday's are discount night with all tickets going for $12.00 (usual adult prices are $16.00).
The beautiful green grassed area makes an excellent picnic spot, so pack some goodies and get there early to make a night of it. You can also BYO if you feel like having a glass of wine or two. The sitting area is quite large and I have found that it doesn't ever completely fill up, so you can spread out your picnic rug without being on top of other movie-goers. Don't have a rug or picnic chairs? Do not worry – one of the best things about this cinema is that comfy bean bag lounges can be hired for $8.00!
The Somerville is located within the UWA grounds in Crawley, with the surrounding big lush trees really making this a special spot. This cinema is part of the Perth International Arts Festival and runs until 15 April 2012. Being part of PIAF means that the films screened here are art house films from around the globe. If you do not like foreign films (think sub titles) then this is not the cinema for you! Every movie I have seen at the Somerville, however, has been fantastic and many of the directors are world-acclaimed and go on to win awards at the Cannes Festival.
The Somerville has its own chairs, but be prepared that these are not comfortable and you should take a cushion to prop yourself up on. Don't forget your picnic basket and rug as well for before the film, as there is an open grassed area next to the seating which is lovely for a pre-movie nibble. As with all the cinemas, food and drinks can be bought at the cinema.
The Somerville screens a different movie each week and tickets can either be purchased at the door or online beforehand.
If you miss a movie at the Somerville, or you live in the Northern suburbs, then the Perth Festival films are also being screened at The Pines cinema in Joondalup. This cinema is located in the Edith Cowan University Campus and has a similar set-up to the Somerville.
For movie programs, ticket prices and other information check out the PIAF website.
Bankwest Movies by Burswood Movies by Burswood, located at the Burswood Entertainment Complex, is a family friendly outdoor cinema that is run by volunteers, with all profits going to children's charities. A new location has also opened in Bassendean.
This cinema is very affordable with $14 adult ticket prices and $10 tickets on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets can again be purchased online or at the door. The movies at this cinema are mainly new Hollywood films but there are also special evenings, such as "A Night Under the Stars" where silver screen classics are played. In February, be sure to check out the midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show!
Movies by Burswood runs until 14 April 2012 at the Burswood location and 31 March 2012 at Bassendean. One of the biggest differences to the other cinemas is that the Burswood cinema is fully licensed and there is a decent drinks menu on offer.
The above are by no means the only outdoor cinemas in Perth. Others on my to do list include the Luna Camelot Outdoor Cinema in Mosman Park or the Kookaburra Outdoor Cinema in Mundaring. If you're heading to the South West then check out the cinema at the Cape Mentelle Winery in Margaret River for an altogether different experience.