Where to watch movies outside in NYC this summer

Posted On Thu, June 3, 2021 By

Posted On Thu, June 3, 2021 By In Events, Features, NYC Guides

Photo by Julienne Schaer for Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

One of the best summer activities is returning to New York City: outdoor movies. While New Yorkers have long enjoyed the seasonal events, the pandemic has made outdoor cinemas (and drive-ins!) even more popular. 6sqft has put together a preliminary list of places to watch outdoor movies across the city, including the Queens Botanical Garden for family-friendly flicks and “Pix on the Plaza,” at The Standard High Line for cult-classic films. As more movie lineups get released this summer, the list will be updated accordingly.

Tribeca Film Festival’s “Borough to Borough” program
This year’s Tribeca Film Festival will be special not just because it’s the 20th anniversary of the event or because it will be the return of in-person screenings following a virtual festival last year. But for the 2021 event, the organizers are launching a new Borough to Borough Festival, which includes bringing free film screenings via mobile 40-foot LED mobile cinemas to parks in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Some locations include Flushing Meadows, Rockaway Beach 30th Street Playground, Van Cortlandt Park, Marine Park, and Walter Gladwin Park. Get the details for each screening and reserve free tickets here.

Rooftop Films Summer Series
Since 1997, Rooftop Films has highlighted the work of first-time filmmakers with screenings at unique outdoor locations. This year’s independent film Summer Series will kick off on Thursday, June 17 at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Rooftop Films is offering a special price of $25 for two tickets to any in-person screening this year. Get tickets here. More details on the future film screening will be announced soon.

In Bushwick, the bar/restaurant/movie theater Syndicated hosts free nightly screenings outside. Dubbed “Sidewalk Cinema,” the event includes movies projected on the Thames Street Side of the building. No tickets are required, but seating is a first-come, first-served at the tables the restaurant uses for outdoor dining. The seating is also covered, making the screenings rain or shine. See the full line-up of screenings for June here.

Pix on the Plaza at the Standard High Line
Every Sunday through Thursday at 8 p.m., catch an outdoor movie screening at the Standard High Line. As part of the hotel’s “Pix on the Plaza” movie series, you’ll be able to enjoy classics like Pretty Woman, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Reservations are required and there is a $30 per person spending minimum required with each booking. Details here.

Seaport Cinema at The Greens
The super-popular lawns on the rooftop of Pier 17 are back this season. At “The Greens” in South Street Seaport, the summer movie series kicked off on May 31 with a showing of The Parent Trap. The event will run on Mondays throughout the summer, with the final showing of Moana on August 23. Reservations for each movie begin at 8 p.m. and movies start at 8:30 p.m. Each socially distanced lawn costs $20 to reserve and can accommodate up to eight guests.

Social Drink & Food
Social Drink & Food, the rooftop bar of the Yotel hotel, hosts a movie-musical night every Thursday. A nod to its Theater District location, film showings have included The Wiz, Hairspray, Chicago, and other classics. Tickets cost $20, which includes a $10 food and beverage credit. Reserve a table here.

The massive indoor-outdoor bar Nowadays on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border is hosting its backyard film series this summer. The June schedule has been released and includes screenings of music-related movies, including Purple Rain and Jimi Hendrix & Ottis Redding Live at Monterey Pop. Reservations are required and tickets cost $10 per person. Doors open at 4 p.m. and films start at 8:30 p.m.

Queens Botanical Garden
This summer, the Queens Botanical Garden is transforming into a family-friendly outdoor cinema. In addition to the screenings, “Movie Nights at the Garden” includes seasonal, movie-themed food and drinks, after-hours access to garden grounds, and arts and craft activities. For non-members, tickets cost $15 per adult, $12 per student, $50 for a family of four, and $25 per couple, with discounted prices available to garden members. Each ticket comes with admission to the garden and a $5 food voucher. The series will kick off with a showing of Zootopia on June 12 and run through August 20. See the full lineup here.

Astoria Park
“Movies on the Waterfront” return to huge Astoria Park in Queens this year. The free movie series takes place on the Astoria Park Great Lawn every Friday in the summer. As of now, the schedule includes screenings of A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood and Toy Story 4, with more films expected to be announced soon. Hosted by the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition Inc., the events are free. Don’t forget a blanket or chair!

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies With A View series is returning to the waterfront this August for a four-week run. Hosted by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the beloved outdoor film event was put on hold last year because of the pandemic. Along with a waterside screening, enjoy food and drinks (including beer and wine for the 21+ crowd) from Smorgasburg along the Pier 1 promenade. Doors open and music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the film starting around 8:30 p.m. There will be a free bike valet, courtesy of Transportation Alternatives. Movies With A View begins August 5 and runs every Thursday evening in August. See the full lineup of films here.

Movie Under the Stars at NYC Parks
Another great free outdoor movie option is hosted by NYC Parks and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Throughout the summer months, catch classic flicks in parks and playgrounds in every borough. Plus for the first time ever, the event will include screenings of the annual New York Public School Film Festival, which includes 32 films created by public school students across the city, followed by a question and answer segment. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and enjoy the movie! Films begin at dusk. See what’s playing in your neighborhood here.


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