Go Outdoors: How to Create an Outside Cinema

Outdoor living is increasing in popularity, from outdoor kitchens to bars and living and working spaces. Setting up an alfresco cinema at home or on your camping trip will surely be a winner.

If you think it sounds a bit technical and complicated, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s pretty simple to set up an outdoor home cinema, but there are a few things you should know to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Power Source

Think about your power sources before you get handy with the fairy light, especially if you have a large garden with no immediate power source or handy power outlet.

Portable power stations are an excellent way to provide uninterrupted power to locations without grid energy. Check your requirements carefully. You may need more than one PPS, depending on the projector strength and extra lighting.


It sounds horribly expensive, but actually, projectors have dropped in price. The new models are quieter and more compact than their predecessors. No one wants that annoying buzz, even if you see it in all the old black-and-white movies!

The lumen measurement on the projector will dictate how powerful the image is. The more lumens you have, the easier it is to see a projected image. Higher lumens are also better if you’re screening in bright conditions like a summer’s evening.

At least 3,000 lumens are required in a garden or rural setting after dark for a movie theatre experience.

Video and Audio Source

You’ll need something to play the film on, whether a DVD, Blu-Ray player, laptop, or streaming device.

You can connect a speaker through the projector’s 3.5mm jack or choose a projector model that offers Bluetooth. If you don’t want to disturb the neighbors at night, connect a pair of Bluetooth speakers.

The Screen

It’s surprisingly cheap and easy to create a simple movie screen.

Peg a white sheet to a washing line and tie it between two trees. Weigh down the bottom with a length of timber, so there’s not too much movement if it’s breezy. 

You can buy a wooden tripod stand if you don’t have conveniently placed trees. Alternatively, you can use wooden posts.

Think about how light will fall across the screen so that you don’t disrupt the projected image with glare or sunlight.  

Some companies rent out large inflatable screens. They’ll do the whole setup for you and provide the projector.

The Seating

Outdoor cinemas reinvented themselves during the pandemic as drive-ins were one of the first social activities permitted as lockdowns eased. A large part of their popularity is the variety of seating styles available.

If you don’t have a large lot or campground for a drive-in, you can still set up foldable chairs on the lawn. Another option is to ask attendees to bring blankets and picnic blankets so everyone can lounge under the stars.

Final Thoughts

The appetite for outdoor big-screen entertainment shows no sign of abating. This idea has been adopted on a smaller scale as households embrace the joys of outdoor living. Movie night in the garden is a great way to socialize and connect with family and friends. 

Now, all you need is some comfortable seating, drinks, and popcorn, and you’re good to go!

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