Winning tip: Vienna film festival
The Rathausplatz in Vienna is a spectacular setting at any time, and under the balmy summer skies in July and August it is a beautiful, elegant place to watch films, musicals and plays on a giant screen surrounded by verdant trees on one side and baroque buildings on another, while the Danube flows past nearby. Entry to the film fest is free but this year places must be booked online. You get a good view from anywhere but early booking will get a seat on the front rows. Try the food from a variety of market stalls, ranging from hefty Austrian sausages to delicate crepes and exotic Japanese teppanyaki.
Cine Naxos, Hora, Naxos, Greece
This place is magical. We first visited 12 years ago when it was called Cine Astra, to watch Atonement. Back then it was fairly basic but with investment since it has clearly become more sophisticated. On a warm summer’s evening, with a cold bottle of Mythos and the cicadas providing the perfect soundtrack, you cannot feel more relaxed. At this wonderful venue, even a mediocre or bad film would seem tolerable.
• Entry €7.50pp, cinenaxos.gr
There are well-run outdoor cinema screenings in various places in and around Cambridge. The providers can be followed online, so you get an inbox message about when and where events will be taking place. It has old favourites such as Grease and Dirty Dancing as well as newer movies.
• £15.40, enchantedcinema.co.uk
On the farm, Great Yarmouth
Hirsty’s is a farm attraction near Great Yarmouth (with a giant corn maze until 6 September) that we often take the kids to. This summer it has started running drive-in movies (through Outdoor Cinema Live). There will be room for 60 cars Wednesday-Saturday evenings throughout the summer, and films on offers are classics such as Blues Brothers and Die Hard, starting with Ready Player One this week. If you can last the course, there is an electric light show at the start and fireworks afterwards. You can order drinks, snacks and ice-cream via an app.
• From £25 a car, outdoorcinemalive.com, hirstysfamilyfunpark.co.uk
Under the stars, Bologna
Sotto le Stelle (under the stars) cinema runs every summer in the fantastic auditorium that is Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore, with modern and classic films shown for free (though places must be reserved in advance here) every evening until 1 September, at 9.45pm. From 25-31 August this year, Cinema Ritrovato, a long-running festival dedicated to the history of cinema – postponed from earlier in the summer – takes over the square.
Ancient evenings, Santorini, Greece
In the picturesque town of Kamari, on the sublime island of Santorini, lies an open-air cinema which comes alive in the summer months. Combining a traditional garden setting with state-of-the-art technology and an open-air bar serving local wine, this place gives a feel of the amphitheatres of ancient Greece with some 21st-century luxuries thrown in.
• €8, santorinicinema.com
Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall
This place has everything … We watched a comedy sitting on earth seats hewn out of the rocks by creator Rowena Cade after the first world war. The backdrop is the sea and sky, and it’s wonderfully atmospheric with waves, gulls and the ferry to the Scilly Isles sailing by. Just remember your cushion for the BTM! The summer season is now under way, including plays, a one-man show and children’s storytelling sessions.
• From £16 adult, minack.com
Dream on the green, Warwickshire
A really exciting outdoor performance is coming to us in Studley, Warwickshire. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being performed in our village by Aunty Jen Productions on 31 July and 1 August. Just take a blanket or low-backed chair for comfort. I can’t wait to be entertained.
• £6, book tickets here
Alexandra Palace drive-in, London
It’s now pretty much all contactless at this north London drive-in run by the Rooftop Film Club (whose pub-based rooftop cinemas remain closed this summer). From ticket purchases and check-in on arrival to food and drink orders, there’s no need to leave the car. Mind you, snacks still get delivered by people on rollerskates for that retro vibe! Classic movies are mainly the order of the day – Grease, The Goonies, Back to the Future – with a sprinkling of newer releases. The view across London on the drive up to the palace is pretty great, too.
• From £27.50 per vehicle, rooftopfilmclub.com
Festival fun, London
I’m looking forward to this new festival in Wandsworth, south-west London. Called The New Normal (3-31 August), it features comedy, improv, magic, music and theatre for small audiences in the courtyard of the Grade II-listed Royal Victoria Patriotic Building. Back in spring, when the comedy season was cut short and the Edinburgh festival cancelled, director Sean Turner asked on Twitter for producers with outdoor-ready shows to get in touch, and this is the result: it includes the Olivier Award-winning Mischief Comedy; The Beast Will Rise, a series of monologues in response to the pandemic; a comedy night featuring Sindhu Vee, Suzi Ruffell, Jake Lambert and Ben Van Der Velde; an improvised comedy murder mystery; and a dose of Shakespeare. Tickets must be bought in advance.
• From £10, newnormalfest.co.uk