Open Air Cinema is back in Newcastle, with a vengeance! This year there will be two films every day (0utside of the Olympics, when the games will be broadcast instead), from now until 4th September. The new venue for 2016 is Eldon Gardens, just a short distance from Monument, so still a very central and accessible location. On Thursdays, screenings take place at our beloved Quayside Seaside instead, so you’ll be able to enjoy some amazing Riley’s Fish Shack delicacies while you view.
There’s a great selection of films this year, appealing to a wide variety of audiences, so do take a look at the timetable and see what takes your fancy. Our Star Wars-mad children and my Star Wars-crazy husband and business partner were very excited to attend tonight’s screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Unless otherwise stated, the evening film starts at 6. Having experienced very busy viewings at the Monument Movies in previous years, I was keen to get there early to grab 4 chairs. We availed ourselves of the free parking after 5 in Eldon Square car park and took a short walk through the bus concourse and shops to the Green. We picked up a picnic tea from Greggs on the way through. The selection of popcorn in Waitrose was smaller than we anticipated. When given the choice of salty or coconut with vanilla, we chose the latter, but, on reflection, maybe neighbouring Poundland might have had a cinema-style alternative. Anyway, if you’re particular about your cinema snacks, best come prepared!
The deckchairs are pretty comfy, but there’s plenty of room all around on the grass, if you want to bring your own chairs or blanket. Despite rumbling buses, growling motorcycles, squealing sirens, squawking children and a good deal of chattering, the audio system was spot on-really impressive. The screen quality is by no means crystal-clear, but it does a great job for an all-weather screen in glaring sunlight. It worked in our favour, too, as the scarier scenes weren’t as ominous for the children.
There are rules in place requesting the audience not to smoke, drink alcohol or swear (Members of staff were enforcing this where they saw breaches, however some people just moved a few steps onto the grass and continued as before) however you are welcome to bring your own snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, with such a lovely sense of community. Miss Mini-Apprentice noticed one movie- goer drop 5 pence. She gave it to him and he emptied his pocket and gave her all his change in gratitude! You never saw someone so excited to receive £1.41 in your life, I’m sure! The family next to us shared their crisps with us and we shared our popcorn with them. We hailed a friend we saw passing by, and he joined us for the rest of the film. It feels to me somewhat that cinema trips today have lost a bit of the excitement they had in my youth, but this was a real adventure and something to savour and enjoy as a family, and a lot more community-focussed than sitting in a darkened auditorium.
With people coming and going throughout the film, and groups of young friends congregating to chat and laugh and wrestle nearby, its a bustling and vibrant atmosphere. Just come along and give it a go!
Do let us know what films you plan to see. Did you enjoy the experience as much as we did? We’d love to hear from you.