Theresa Traubel rounds up Berlin’s best open air cinemas…
Watching a great movie on a hot night beneath the stars is one of those magical social pleasures, like chilling with friends in a beer garden or park, that can create beautiful summer memories.
Berlin has several excellent outdoor cinemas, which usually open from May until September. I’ve rounded up some of the best below, but besides these you can also find one-off screenings and mini-festivals in unique venues arranged by the likes of Mobile Kino, and the Berlin Film Society.
These screenings usually take place at the charismatic Insel der Jungend at Treptower Park, Friedrichshain’s Urban Spree, while others are screened at Neue Heimat (part of the RAW-Gelände complex in Friedrichshain), and at Neukölln’s rooftop hotspot Klunkerkranich, among other fabulous locations.
Given the largely international audience in Berlin, these pop-ups tend to fuse a range of genres, from arthouse, cult classics, new releases, independent features, documentaries and short films, and usually offer films in the original language along with English subtitles. That said, be sure to check the original language of the movie as some are dubbed into German (“OV” stands for original version and “OmU” for original with subtitles).
Even better: while most of these cinemas below offer some kind of food and drink items, guests are often allowed to bring their own snacks and picnics.
This Kreuzberg classic can be found in the back garden of the striking former hospital Kunstquartier Bethanien, whose rooms are now used for exhibitions, theatre and dance as well as artist workshops and studios. Screenings are usually a good mixture of international independent, classics and documentary movies as well as the occasional Hollywood flick. Each movie is only shown once, always in its original version with English subtitles (or German subtitles if the original is in English). Make sure to be there in good time to nab one of the cosy deck chairs, which come with blankets where necessary.
Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin, www.freiluftkino-kreuzberg.de, Entry: €7, Screenings daily from 9.30pm. Capacity: 600
Many of Berlin’ open air cinemas are located in Friedrichshain, but with 1,500 seats this one is the biggest. Set deep inside the lovely and sprawling Volkspark Friedrichshain, a visit here has the advantage of including an summery evening stroll through the park’s winding lanes. Unless mentioned otherwise, movies here are shown in German dubbed versions.
Freiluftkino im Volkspark Friedrichshain, Ernst Zinna Weg 1, 10249 Berlin, www.freiluftkino-berlin.de. Entry: €7. Screenings daily from 9pm. Capacity: 1,500 (including wooden benches, seats at tables and lots of space to bring your own blanket)
Set inside the gorgeously grungy and impressively huge Raw-Gelände complex – a former area for train repairs workshop that now serves as a social, cultural and nightlife hub – you can find the fairly intimate Freiluftkino Insel next to the backyard beer garden of the Cassiopeia club. Most of the films here are shown in their original language (non-dubbed) with German subtitles.
Revaler Straße 99, 10245 Berlin, www.freiluftkino-insel.de. Entry €8, Screenings: Sun-Tue & Thu from 9.30pm plus specials with short-movies, concerts or parties. Capacity: 350.
Situated inside Neukölln’s Hasenheide park, this is the perfect place for taking time out from the stressful city and chill out while watching cinematic highlights from the past year. The daily changing program contains a great selection of arthouse and cult films as well as selected mainstream movies. Check the program for original movies, which will be marked with OmU (original version with subtitles).
Hasenheide 107, 10967 Berlin, www.freiluftkino-hasenheide.de, Entry: €7,50. Screenings daily from 9.30pm. Capacity 1,000 (wooden benches).
Berlin’s most urban open-air cinema is located at Potsdamer Platz, complete with views of the Sony centre, the Philharmonic and the soaring DB towers. By far the best place to get that „big city feel“ while enjoying a program of largely art-house movies from the previous season.
Matthäikirchplatz 4/6, 10785 Berlin-Tiergarten (between Neue Nationalgalerie and Philharmonie), www.yorck.de. Entry: €7,50. Capacity: 1,000 (deck chairs & chairs).
Haus Schwarzenberg has a very interesting history. An island of anti-gentrification in the highly polished part of Mitte around the Hackesher Markt, this run-down, artist-run complex features some great little museums, street art shops, a dark and seductive bar and more. Hidden away in the back courtyard is the open-air cinema, a cosy and atmospheric space that shows classic movies in original language.
Rosenthaler Straße 39, 10178 Berlin, www.kino-central.de, Entry €7. Capacity: 75
With 1.500 seats this, along with Freilichtkino Friedrichshain, one of the biggest open air cinemas in Berlin. Surrounded by huge lime and chestnut trees it’s easy to forget that you’re in the city here – though the occasional plane flying in and out of Tegel airport serves as a reminder. The mix of Hollywood and independent movies shown here are usually from the of previous year and shown in German dubbed versions, with occasional exceptions.
Windhuker Straße (corner of Petersallee), 13351 Berlin. Entry €7. Screenings daily at 9.30pm; Capacity: 1,500 (wooden benches)