From a drive-in to a hot tub cinema: Outdoor screenings don’t have to stop for the cold

Francesca Steele finds some startling alternatives to the multiplex

In the summer, eschewing the multiplex in favour of ever quirkier cinema locations has become something of a national pastime. Films in parks, films in pubs, films on rooftops, in hot tubs, in cemeteries. Pop-up screenings, immersive screenings, screenings in fancy-dress... Sitting under the stars with a rug, cushion and a glass of Pimm's has become as common a sight up and down the UK in June as, well, a glass of Pimm's.

Similarly eclectic cinematic pursuits in the winter have, in the past, been hard to find (perhaps operators felt they simply couldn't afford the heating bills) but now it seems venues are catching on.

From snuggling under a blanket on the rooftops of a prestigious London hotel to watch Miracle on 34th Street, to slipping into a Jacuzzi with some mulled wine and a projector (yes, really) or getting your ice skates on before a screening of Frank Capra's Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life, here is a run-down of unusual ways to watch films this winter.

Old Vic Tunnels, London

Bringing a more literal sense to underground cinema are the film screenings within the Old Vic Tunnels. For the uninitiated, this labyrinthine set of unused railway vaults below Waterloo Station has become one of the capital's leading arts venues in recent years, hosting pop-up galleries, theatre and concerts as well as film screenings, in association with Everyman Cinema, throughout the year. Its winter wonderland, by day a family-friendly alpine forest, complete with northern lights, snow and stalls selling bratwurst, screens films such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Home Alone. At night, the forest is transformed into a bar and has celluloid classics such as Back to the Future and Ghostbusters on offer.

(oldvictunnels.com) to 23 December, £5 to £26

Winter Wonderland at the Berkeley, London

Grab a hot chocolate and some mince pies and head up to the roof-top terrace of the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, which has been transformed into a pine tree forest bedecked with heating lamps, fluffy cushions, warm blankets and hot-water bottles. With just four seats, it's an intimate affair, screening either Miracle on 34th Street or the Richard Curtis love-it-or-hate-it romcom Love Actually. It's not a cheap night out though. If you're staying at the hotel it's free. Otherwise, the "Winter Wonderland package", which is only available to non-guests on weeknights and which includes unlimited hot chocolate and mince pies, costs £55.

(020 7201 1699) 31 January

The Route 66 Drive-In, Manchester

You don't have to be the cast of Grease to enjoy watching a movie from the comfort of your own car. Bringing the magic of the classic American drive-in to, well, an industrial estate in Trafford, Greater Manchester, this is the first permanent drive-in in the UK (there have only been pop-ups before) and owner John O'Leary already has plans to expand to Leeds, Liverpool and Cardiff. The current spot has space for 50 cars and you can order pizza and popcorn with your ticket. Films range from the latest releases, including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, to Christmas favourites such as The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Cost: from £18 per vehicle, regardless of occupancy (route66driveincinemas.co.uk) ongoing

Big Screens: Bristol, Liverpool and Middlesbrough

A legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, there are 22 Big Screens installed in prominent city locations across the UK and three of them will show festive films over the next few weeks at no extra cost to audiences. Head to Millennium Square in Bristol for weekend day screenings of Father Christmas, the jolly adaptation of The Snowman creator Raymond Briggs's book. Middlesbrough will show It's a Wonderful Life and The Polar Express and Clayton Square in Liverpool will show various classic films every Thursday until Christmas.

(bbc.co.uk/bigscreens/events) various dates, free. The Round Chapel, Hackney, London

Church isn't just for carols, with screenings, from behind the pulpit in this wonderfully atmospheric chapel in east London, of Elf, featuring funnyman Will Ferrell, and It's a Wonderful Life, the black-and-white family classic starring Jimmy Stewart. Instead of popcorn, the bar will be serving Christmas treats, including candy canes, mince pies and chocolate logs. (The same company runs more screenings at the nearby Hackney Downs Studios.)

(experiencecinema.com) 15 December, £8.50 to £13.50. Hot Tub Cinema, East London

If you have to brave the cold, why not have a bath await you on arrival? At least that was the thinking from the team behind what are probably London's strangest alternative film screenings. After popular rooftop summer events and a sell-out run at Halloween that included films such as The Lost Boys and Beetlejuice, the event has now moved to an indoor warehouse space in Shoreditch, where secret films can be watched from a hot tub surrounded by a winter wonderland. You are advised to bring a dressing gown for trips to the bar, as well, of course, as your swimwear and a towel. The current run finishes tomorrow but founder Asher Charman hopes to return early next year "while it's still cold".

(hottubcinema.com) today and tomorrow, £28 for a single ticket or £225 for a hot tub for eight people

Glasgow on Ice

The biggest city north of the border is hosting seven weeks of events in George Square against the backdrop of the beautiful Victorian City Chambers building, now headquarters to Glasgow City Council. The films in the main marquee on Wednesdays and Sundays include The Grinch and A Christmas Carol and are free, although the skating is not. You can also watch pantos, do some face-painting and listen to some jazz.

(glasgowloveschristmas.com) to 30 December, free

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable