Where to watch movies outdoors this summer

Where to watch movies outdoors this summer

This summer, there’s movie magic all over the city—in parks, on beaches and on train platforms galore

When Nature Calls
Sail-In Cinema at Sugar Beach (Image: courtesy Toronto Port Authority)

The long winter of 2014 was Toronto’s coldest in 20 years, transforming the city into a treacherous tundra and its citizens into those icicle zombies from Game of Thrones. Now that it’s over, we’re ready to go out—and stay out. Luckily, there are more things to do outside than ever before—more starlit movies, festivals and open-air theatres. Here, a handy guide to alfresco events in the city—the kinds of season-specific cultural goodies best enjoyed on a blanket with a discreet plastic party cup in hand. (For venue locations, see the map, below.)

1 | Harbourfront Free Flicks

This year’s series focuses on women in comedy, from mainstream (Mean Girls) to marginal (the charming In a World). Wednesdays, starting July 2.

2 | Sail-in Cinema

A barge in the harbour shows movies on a two-sided screen, which means you can enjoy Ghostbusters from your yacht or a blanket on Sugar Beach. Aug. 14 to 16.

3 | TIFF in the Park

Sticking to the TIFF mandate, the films in David Pecaut Square offer showbiz intel—this year’s roster includes the Oscar-winning film Searching for Sugar Man and Wim Wenders’ dance documentary Pina. Wednesdays, starting July 2.

4 | Christie Pits Film Festival

The park bowl provides a natural sloping theatre for the Days of Summer series, featuring movies fit for a July heat wave—Rear Window and A League of Their Own among them. Sundays, starting July 6.

5 | Movies in St. James Park

Family-friendly flicks dominate the program, with one exception: the glorious, uproarious Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, in honour of WorldPride. Last Thursday of every month, starting June 26.

6 | Open Roof Festival

From the courtyard of 99 Sudbury comes a series of independent films and documentaries, with artisanal food stands selling snacks on site and live music from bands like The Sheepdogs and Bruce Peninsula before each movie. Every week, starting June 19.

When Nature Calls: an insider’s look at the summer’s outdoor entertainment
(Image: Vuk Dragojevic)
7 | Polson Pier Drive-In

The city’s last remaining drive-in screens the summer’s buzziest blockbusters—the season opens on Victoria Day weekend with the latest Godzilla remake, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston in his post–Walter White debut. Every weekend, starting May 16.

8 | Junction Movie Nights

Crowds pour onto the Junction Train Platform for a program of classic Hollywood films; last year’s slate included Citizen Kane and Top Hat. Dates TBA.

9 | Courtyard Movies at St. Peter’s

The cloistered, leafy quad at this Seaton Village church fills up with a dignified Annex audience, lured by the promise of popcorn and great movies—the schedule this year includes The Princess Bride and, fittingly, Sister Act. Every other Friday, starting June 13.

10 | City Cinema

Yonge-Dundas Square’s summer movie series attracts die-hards, drop-ins and tourists for cult classics. In years past, they’ve been treated to The Big Lebowski, Dazed and Confused and Napoleon Dynamite. Tuesdays, starting June 24.

11 | Movies in the Park

At Riverdale Park East, families can catch favourites like Footloose and The Wizard of Oz, though they may be distracted by the dazzling downtown skyline—the park offers the best view in the city. Every other Sunday, starting July 13.

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