The sun was just going down when we arrived at Blenheim Palace, an hour before our film kicked off, ready to get settled in, find a good spot, order some food, get excited.
We’d waited months for our Luna Drive In Cinema experience, tickets having sold fast as soon as the new concept was announced, certain films selling out almost immediately. (Read about it here: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/buckle-up-as-the-uks-leading-open-air-cinema-brings-new-drive-in-film-concept-to-blenheim-palace/)
The first night’s tickets for Back To The Future were like gold dust, but luckily the organisers took pity on those who’d missed out by adding a second screening later in July. We were in. The perfect family film.
And with Parasite tonight, then Jurassic Park, Grease Singalong, Rocketman Singalong, Dirty Dancing, Swan Lake (Royal Ballet), Pretty Woman and Joker, there’s still some fantastic classics to come.
There had been much discussion about the event beforehand, mainly from the kids. What was a drive in movie? Why bother? Why not just watch it at home? How could it be better than Netflix? Why watch such an old film when there were so many good new ones? How would we all see it from one car? Could the kids sit on the roof? What if it rained? Why did it start so late (9.30pm)? Would we have to park at the back? and so on, all of which I took as a good indication of the growing excitement about this unknown phenomenon.
“It was fun and different and at the moment that is a novelty in itself”
Having been to America in my late teens I had been to drive-in movies before. They were part of everyday life, even though the movie pitches were pretty ramshackle, the speakers on stands rusting slowly away, the sound cutting out half way through, the film figures dwindling in favour of the mall cinema multiplexes. But the atmosphere was brilliant. It’s what kids did, whether they watched the film or not. It felt historic to go to a drive-in movie in America. It’s an intrinsic part of their culture – like baseball or Thanksgiving.
This was different. It was an event, a treat, SOMETHING TO DO that didn’t involve our all-too-familiar four walls. It was at Blenheim Palace for God’s sake. Nothing there is lowkey!
And neither was this. We drove through the palace gates in Woodstock and up towards the children’s garden and butterfly house, and with the palace silhouetted in the distance the cars queued up, were quickly issued with a sound box and QR code and then directed to our parking spaces’ number on our wing mirrors.
The screen was visible, the soundtrack emanating form the sound box assured us everything was working.
We got comfy, perused the menus for the three onsite food stands, and everyone in the car got to order different things. The only annoying thing was that you had to pay separately, but it gave us something to do while waiting for the film to begin.
Each bag of goodies was then delivered to your car bonnet.
The chicken nuggets and chips were a great success, the crepe with Nutella and banana disappeared within seconds, and the popcorn and bag of Maltesa’s made it a true cinema experience.
As the time of the film drew closer and the adverts started, we all settled in, immersed in the movie, completely forgetting we were sat in a field in a country estate during a pandemic as Michael J Fox battled to unite his parents before making his way back in the time machine to 1985. Who could forget?
The verdict? Despite their protestations, the kids loved the whole experience. It felt like we’d really been somewhere and done something. It was fun and different and at the moment that is a novelty in itself.
With a whole week of films left to run, taking us right up until July 28, I’d book in now while you can, because after that the Luna Drive In Cinema moves on to Warwick Castle and Knebworth.
Catch it while you can until July 28.