It started with classical concerts and theatre, then opera got in on the act and now cinema is the latest form of entertainment to go al fresco in the capital.
The idea has been imported from Australia by former investment banker Daniel Austin, whose company, Starlight Cinema '98, will be showing everything from Pulp Fiction to Gone with the Wind on a giant inflatable movie screen in parkland around Alexandra Palace this July.
"What we're trying to do," says Austin, "is to promote the ultimate summer experience. Basically, by the end of winter, people are sick of bars and want to hang out outside. They can take a picnic, meet their friends, have a glass of wine, listen to some music and then see a great film too," he enthuses.
And Austin hasn't been put off by the reputation of the British weather; he has consulted meteorological experts. "This year it will be hot," he states confidently.
Starlight Cinema '98
Open-air cinema starts at Alexandra Palace in mid-July. The organisers are also applying for planning permission for a similar operation later in the summer on Clapham Common and expect a decision in a few weeks.
Tickets for the screenings will cost pounds 7. Gates open at 6.30pm for picnicking and socialising until 8.30pm when the nightly 20-minute ritual of inflating the giant screen begins with suitably dramatic musical accompaniment.
Starlight Cinema '98 (0171-624 8989)
Kenwood & Marble Hill
Now an established part of the London summer scene, this programme of concerts kicks off on 4 July with an American Independence Day Firework Spectacular. While most of the audience take it pretty casually, some obviously see it as an urban Glyndebourne and come fully equipped with Harrods hampers and even candelabras. Canny individuals don't bother with tickets and sit on the grass in front of Kenwood House.
The concerts at Marble Hill in Twickenham, also organised by English Heritage, don't have quite the same atmosphere, which may have something to do with the house being on a flightpath into Heathrow, but it's still a very pleasant way to spend a balmy summer evening.
For further details, call 0171-973 3427. For tickets, call Ticketmaster on 0171-413 1443
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
This year, the New Shakespeare Company presents A Midsummer Night's Dream, Troilus and Cressida and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes from 22 May to 5 Sept. Box Office 0171-486 2431
Holland Park Theatre
A 10-week season of open-air opera and ballet begins on 16 June.
Call 0171-602 7856 for tickets and programme details
Proms in the Park
Because of the major rebuilding work, there won't be any Royal Opera House productions relayed onto a big screen in Covent Garden Piazza this year. But you can catch all the pomp and circumstance of The Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall via a video link up while tucking into your picnic in Hyde Park.
The event, on Saturday 12 September, begins with a live concert of popular classical music followed by the traditional last night finale on screen.
Tickets (pounds 10.50) are available from Ticketmaster Hotline on 0171-413 3571.
Further details of the event, which was attended last year by 37,000 people, are available from the Proms in the Park info line on 0990 143109
Party in the Park
Same venue, different audience. All Saints and other top bands perform for the Prince's Trust on 5 July.
Tickets (pounds 15), call 0171-420 0958
Jazz in the Park
Jazz FM and Gordon's Gin present free live jazz every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evening amidst the picturesque surroundings of Cafe Lakeside in Battersea Park. The season kicks off at 7pm this Tuesday (19 May) with cool jazz guitarist, Ronny Jordan.
Murphy's Ealing Jazz Festival
Increasingly, local authorities are recognising the potential for entertainment in municipal parks. This free event runs from 2-9 August in Walpole Parkl, near Ealing Broadway tube.
Call 0181-758 5741/3 for a free brochure
Celebrate the start of summer with a refreshing Gordon's and Tonic, together with cool jazz in the park. One winner will receive a year's supply of Gordon's Gin, plus a pair of tickets to the VIP reception at Jazz in the Park with Ronny Jordan on Tuesday 19 May (see above). Nine runners-up will receive a bottle of Gordon's. To enter call 0171-482 5600, mentioning this offer.Reuse content