Festive film-goers, look alive: these are our pick of the very best pop-up screenings taking place across London this Christmas. Did someone say mulled wine?
Pop-up screenings really are the best way to herald the festive season, and our fair capital is home to some of the finest events in the genre.
We’re talking cosy makeshift igloos and fairy-lit pavilions where you can float away the night in a happy cloud of mince pies and boozy (if that’s your preference) hot chocolate.
Some venues go further still, with secret Narnia-style passageways or snow-clad fire trees adding to the sense of drama.
Of course, the films are well worth a punt, too, whether you’re looking to wallow in seasonal nostalgia courtesy of White Christmas, or prefer to ramp up the action in the company Bruce Willis and his Die Hard antics.
So, without further ado, come grab a beanbag for two and get stuck in. Merry Christmas ya filthy animal…
Rivoli Ballroom, Brockley
If you’ve never been to the Rivoli Ballroom before, you’re in for a delight. This is London’s only remaining intact 1950s ballroom, with all the vintage trimmings to prove it.
The Rivoli is a joy at anytime of year, but especially so during its Christmas screening season, when ornate velvet curtains and golden wall lights lend a distinct air of grandeur to proceedings.
Films this year stretch from Harry Potter to Die Hard, with a variety of sweet treats on-hand to give the occasion wings (hello, hot grog).
11-13 December, tickets from £10
Luna Cinema, Kensington Palace
A fleet of feel-good favourites take centre stage in Luna Cinema’s winter showreel this December, all in the suitably evocative setting of Kensington Palace.
Fuel up on mulled wine and popcorn in a fairy-lit pavilion on the estate’s Orangery Lawn, before finding your pew amid a canvas of beanbags and “director’s chairs” that lie in the shadow of glittering Christmas trees. For an extra fee, you can upgrade to a luxury sofa complete with a complimentary drink and butler service during the film.
Seasonal classics include Home Alone, Elf and Love Actually. Be warned: tickets sell out fast.
15-23 December, tickets from £18.50.
Backyard Cinema, Wandsworth
It doesn’t get more magical than Backyard Cinema’s immersive Christmas screenings, which are designed to deliver the full whack of festive enchantment.
Guests enter through a Narnia-style wardrobe door to discover the Winter Night Garden; an enchanted forest filled with lanterns, chandeliers and snow-clad ferns. Or they can opt for the Snow Kingdom screen, complete with a magical ball pit river and an icy entrance of its own.
Beautiful decorative detail and elaborate special effects abound here, along with street food from the likes of Honest Burger and Mother Clucker. Drinks-wise, there are Christmas cocktails and a cosy craft beer hideaway.
A mixed film offering includes the likes of Die Hard and Edward Scissorhands, in addition to standard Christmas fare.
15 November - 6 January, tickets from £18.99
Nomad Cinema, Citypoint
This roaming pop-up is setting up shop in an Igloo dome in the heart of the Square Mile this Christmas, with a 14-day billing of festive films led by It’s A Wonderful Life.
The Holiday, Love Actually and White Christmas also make the edit, with a few musicals (Purple Rain, Rocketman) thrown in for good measure.
Bring your own tipple of choice along to the screenings, and take your pick from a line-up of cosy beanbags surrounded by Christmas lights. For an extra glow, it’s good to know that 100% of profits from the event go to a sustainability institute based in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
4-21 December, tickets £13.50
Rooftop Winter Cinema at The Berkeley, Belgravia
The Berkeley Hotel’s Rooftop Winter Cinema has the feel of a decadent wonderland retreat, with giant lanterns, snow-covered topiary and snug nooks heaped with soft blankets and cushions.
The event shows the same two Christmas films – Home Alone and The Holiday – every night, and the £95 price tag is certainly extravagant. For this, you’ll get top-end food in a meal choice inspired by three different ski resort themes: Aspen (American classics), Gstaad (Swiss mountain dishes) or Courchevel (French fare with a festive flourish).
And whether you end up dining on gratinated truffle macaroni cheese or confit duck croquettes, you can also indulge in mulled wine, mince pies and bottomless hot chocolate throughout. A surprise present to take away at the end is the icing on the cake (oh, and there are some of them, too). One to bookmark if you fancy a splurge.
From 15 November, £95 for adult tickets
Floating Film Festival, St Katharine Docks
Central London’s only marina plays host to a Floating Film Festival this December, with screenings that take place on a harbour pontoon.
Settle into your deckchair or beanbag for two, with the stage illuminated by boat lights and a Christmas tree shining out onto the water all around. London Bridge and the Tower of London are right next door, which adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the setting.
Expect mulled wine, mince pies and other treats from the experience, with films including Home Alone and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
1-8 December, tickets from £12
Winter Pop-up Cinema, Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre is generally a very merry place to be around Christmas time, and all the more so if you make a beeline for its pop-up winter cinema.
Based in the Circus Bar right by the Thames, the event offers the chance to snuggle up on beanbags under a maze of colourful streamers and twinkling lights that line a fairytale-esque tent.
Street food and mulled cider are both highlights here, but most impressive is the range of films on offer. Dirty Dancing, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Finding Nemo extend a more traditional cluster of festive titles.
11 November - 21 December, tickets from £15
Festive Film & Fizz, Covent Garden
Luxury hotel One Aldwych has teamed up with Curzon to offer this bells-and-lights-on Christmas screening special.
Guests are invited to knock back a glass of champagne over a sentimental classic, followed by a three-course brunch or dinner in the hotel’s critically acclaimed restaurants.
Movies on the menu come with an unapologetic helping of schmaltz: think Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas and the like.
22 November - 18 December, tickets from £50 (including the meal and welcome aperitif)
Main image: Getty