Freiluftkino season: Open-air cinemas in Germany to visit this summer
Freiluftkino season has arrived in Germany, and it’s time to make the most of it before the rainy days return. From Hamburg to Munich, here’s what kind of delights Germany’s oldest and most well-known open-air cinemas have to offer this summer.
Outdoor cinemas in Germany
Germany has over 550 outdoor cinemas, or Freiluftkinos. And in the summer months, hopping on your bike after work and riding through the Freierabend atmosphere to pop your behind on a deck chair and stare up at the faces of the actors for a few hours, beer in hand, isn’t a half-bad way to spend the evening. To help you make the most of the season, here’s what to expect on a trip to one of Germany’s Freiluftkinos.
OmU and OmeU subtitles at German cinemas
The same general subtitle rules for Freiluftkino screenings in Germany apply as they would in indoor cinemas. Films will likely be shown in one of four ways: OmU (Original version with subtitles in German), DF (German version - dubbed version for foreign languages, German in original), OV (Original version without subtitles) or OmeU (Original version with English subtitles).
Unless you speak Swedish, you’ll want to avoid accidentally getting stuck watching the whole five hours of Fanny och Alexander with German subtitles. With so many linguistic possibilities, planning a trip can get a little confusing, so make sure to check the programme carefully for subtitle details in advance of your visit.
Freiluftkinos in German cities
Across many German cities, parks and industrial areas are repurposed into outdoor cinemas throughout the summer months. From Hamburg to Munich, here’s a list of the cream of the Kino crop.
Open-air cinemas in Berlin
Berliners are spoilt for choice when it comes to open-air cinema season. There are around 30 dotted around the capital, and some of them don’t even cost a penny!
Freiluftkinos Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Rehberge
This trio are Berlin’s staple Freiluftkinos, with programmes spanning across the summer months. Each location has deck-chair or picnic-blanket space for around 1.500 guests and a ticket will set you back 9 euros. As is the case with most open-air Kinos in Germany, a mixture of new flicks and classic hits grace the screens over the season.
Image credit: Freiluftkino Kreuzberg / (C) Piffl Medien / CC-BY-4
Free Freiluftkino in Körnerpark
How can you resist a trip to the Kino when it is free? You can’t. Every year for a month in the summer, Freiluftkino im Körnerpark sets up showings for free once a week. In Berlin, the minimal grandeur of Körnerpark is about as close as you can get to feeling like you’re in old Par-ee unless you go sit under the miniature Eiffel Tower in City West.
It gets better: Berliners actually get to choose which movies are shown here for the park’s month-long Freiluftkino set-up! Head over to the werkstadt.berlin website to have your say for 2023. Though entry is free, donations are of course encouraged.
Open-air cinemas in other German cities
Outside the German capital, there are still plenty of choices when it comes to open-air cinemas.
SION Sommerkino Cologne
This is Cologne’s biggest open-air cinema, which shows new flicks every day from May right through to September. The SION Sommerkino experience is made a tad more exciting by the fact that the silver screen floats on the waters of the fancy-schmancy yacht harbour in Cologne with views across the water the world-famous Cathedral.
Unlike the Berlin locations, Cologne’s SION Sommerkino has a whole restaurant attached to it with vegetarian and vegan options, and not a German dish in sight. Expect pizza, wraps, salad and hamburgers.
PSD Bank Kino Dortmund
The PSD Bank Kino in Dortmund has a little bit of a shorter season than most open-air cinemas in other German cities. Between June 29 and August 13, however, expect all the mainstream flicks and forget all that art house stuff so beloved in Europe. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny? Yes. Strays, a 2023 comedy about a group of talking stray dogs on an adventure in New York which has unfortunately been re-named Doggy Style in Germany? Also yes.
In the name of romance and practicality each screening begins as the sun sets, so somewhere between 9pm and 10pm depending on how far into the summer months you make your visit. This cinematic experience is heading a little more over to the pricey side, with tickets costing 13 euros.
Alltours Kino Düsseldorf
A similar viewing-on-the-water experience is available at Alltours Kino in Düsseldorf. This spot has space for up to 2.000 visitors and has a hierarchy system when it comes to seating. Those willing to push the boat out will pay 15 euros for an advance ticket for a seat in Block B for “Best people ever get brilliant seats”, and 13 euros for advance tickets in Block A for “Am I going to be able to read the subtitles from here?”
The Alltours Kino highlight is definitely that the open-air space also turns into a "Kino Beach" during the summer months. That’s when they fill the area with sand and you get to sit in a deck chair instead of on bleachers. There is no hierarchy on Kino Beach; everyone is equal because it is F.R.E.E!
Binnenalster Film Festival Hamburg
Binnenalster Film Festival is for the open-air Kino season fans who realise that it’s September already and oh no, you’ve still not made it to the Freiluftkino. You’ll need a jacket and perhaps even all the other winter accessories for this trip, since the 2023 festival is planned to run between September 28 and October 7.
The programme for this year is yet to be released, but expect a mixture of classics. 2022 included Some Like It Hot and When Harry Met Sally. Again - perhaps the biggest highlight - this one is free!
Kino, Mond & Sterne Munich
When the evening is spread out against the sky there is no better Freiluftkino than Kino, Mond & Sterne, Munich’s oldest open-air cinema. The cinema lies just off the Westsee Lake in the centre of the city’s Westpark. Grab a pew on the stone semi-circles of seating, surrounded by a ring of trees swaying in the summer breeze.
Tickets will only set you back 9,50 euros. But with a highlight of Kino, Mond & Sterne being its culinary offerings, it might be hard to resist paying a little more for some excellent snacks. Familie Nguyen is on-site providing your favourites from a number of Southeast Asian cuisines - expect Thai curry, pad thai and wontons. All of the classic Kino snacks and summertime thirst quenchers are also available, including popcorn, ice cream and Aperol Spritz.
Time for a trip to the Freiluftkino?
It's time to seize the Saison! Get out there and enjoy the warm summer evenings at one of Germany's open-air cinemas.
Thumb image credit: Freiluftkino Friedrichshain / (C) Piffl Medien / CC-BY-4
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