Bristol’s ultimate outdoor cinema guide 2019

Now fully revised and updated, including additional Bambi, Fargo and Avatar screenings

Queen are indeed the champions. As the critic-defying Oscar winner Bohemian Rhapsody races towards a staggering $1 billion in global ticket sales – a figure more generally associated with superhero blockbusters – it also dominates this summer’s al fresco film screening season. None of the big organisations serving up outdoor film events across the country are failing to offer a screening of Bohemian Rhapsody. One company – Adventure Cinema – is showing nothing else in our region.

Even hardcore Queen enthusiasts would struggle to claim that this rather sanitised and formulaic biopic is a great film. But it does have one very powerful thing going for it: an almost continuous barrage of those sturdy, unimpeachably magnificent songs (and Radio Ga Ga). That seems to be the secret of cinema under the stars success. The films that have traditionally done well in such settings are musicals that create a proper communal experience by allowing audiences to bellow along with the choons. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and The Greatest Showman have dominated previous summers, albeit not on quite the same scale as Bohemian Rhapsody.

For some reason, outdoor cinema has also attracted plenty of shysters, con artists and opportunistic data miners. We shan’t name names here, but social media is awash with people who claim to be organising such events that never actually happen or are mysteriously cancelled at the last minute. So our guide includes only those companies with a proven track record who have tickets on sale through reputable channels.

Summer Screens, formerly known as Cult Screens, returns to Bristol Zoo Gardens from August 28 to September 1. Their programme comprises old favourites Jurassic Park (Aug 31) and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Sept 1) alongside Rocketman (Aug 28) and recent Oscar winner Green Book (Aug 29). Something missing? Oh, yes: Bohemian Rhapsody (Aug 30). If you yearn to watch a movie amid those unfortunate incarcerated beasts, a variety of bean bag and deckchair options are available. Food and drink will also be served.

Luna Cinema pays its second visit to Bristol for a run of three screenings at Ashton Court from Sept 20-22. Take your pick from Pretty Woman (Sept 20), Mary Poppins Returns (Sept 21) and – you guessed it – Bohemian Rhapsody (Sept 22).

If that’s not enough Bohemian Rhapsody for you, Adventure Cinema is heading our way with three outdoor screenings of Freddie and chums strutting their stuff. You can catch the film at Blaise Castle Estate (June 29), Old Down Country Park (July 12) and Clevedon Hall (July 21).

Cheapskates will be delighted to learn that Big Screen Bristol, operated by We the Curious, has a fine selection of free outdoor afternoon and evening screenings in Millennium Square during July and August. Take your pick from The Lorax (July 31), Beasts of the Southern Wild (August 7), Bambi (August 14) and Avatar (August 21).

As the name implies, the Lanes’ Summer Courtyard Cinema Club offers screenings in its, er, summery courtyard, where you can partake of a pizza while watching a movie. Your choices include Disney’s original animated The Lion King (July 16), the Coens’ classic Fargo (July 23) and the acquired-taste Scott Pilgrim vs The World (July 29), plus many more on into September.

Most of these events have strict rules about admitting children. But if you’re burdened with nippers and prepared to venture a little further afield, the Luna Kids Cinema – billed as the UK’s first open air cinema designed for small fry – comes to Kensington Meadows in Bath for the first time from Aug 28-Sept 1. Their packed programme kicks off at 9am most days with the last pre-bedtime screenings at 7pm. It includes Disney’s new live-action versions of Aladdin and Dumbo, plus The Greatest Showman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, Peppa Pig: Festival of Fun, The Incredibles 2, The Gruffalo and many more.

Should you wish to see Bohemian Rhapsody in other locations within reasonable distance of Bristol, Luna Cinema will also be pitching up at Bath’s Royal Crescent, Cardiff Castle and Lydiard House in Swindon over the coming months. Summer Screens are on manoeuvres to Swindon’s Old Town Bowl and Llanthony Secunda Priory in Gloucester. And Adventure Cinema’s many venues include Bath Racecourse and Swindon Cricket Club (yep, they’re both showing Bohemian Rhapsody).

We’ll be updating this guide regularly online as more screenings are announced. Arnos Vale Cemetery, for example, will be running two more of its popular outdoor screenings on October 4 & 5, but tickets won’t be on sale until August. Clevedon’s Curzon cinema is planning its annual outdoor ventures for September too. Keep checking back here for updates and follow the links below for further information about all Bristol screenings.

Read more: Go here for our comprehensive film listings

Summer Screens

Luna Cinema

Free Screenings in Millennium Square

  • Film / Animation

    Bambi

    Free outdoor screening of Disney's atypical classic that gave generations of kids nightmares

    Millennium Square: Wednesday, Aug 14 2019 12pm

  • Film / Action

    Avatar

    Free outdoor screening of James Cameron's ground-breaking CGI fantasy adventure

    Millennium Square: Wednesday, Aug 21 2019 7:30pm

  • Film / Drama

    Beasts of the Southern Wild

    Free outdoor screening of Oscar nominated fantasy about childhood, innocence and imagination

    Millennium Square: Wednesday, Aug 7 2019 8pm

Summer Courtyard Cinema Club at The Lanes

More Bohemian Rhapsody (and other films)