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How do you Create an Outdoor Cinema Experience While Camping?

Outdoor cinema experience

Are you excited about creating your own outdoor cinema experience the next time you visit the campsite? Pop-up cinemas are becoming increasingly popular and make an excellent family micro-adventure. So if you are interested in a DIY film night, we give you all the options available for setting up an outdoor cinema on your next camping trip and creating unforgettable memories for you and your friends.

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How to create an outdoor cinema while camping

Outdoor Cinema Hire

If you want the easiest option with the least hassle then hiring an outdoor cinema might be the answer. You can choose the type of tech you want and if you need a technician to help set it up. If you are planning a retreat event, you can arrange for someone to come in and manage the whole event for you. That’s one less thing to worry about. In our opinion, this is great for a glamping-style outdoor cinema experience. In other words, everyone else does all the hard work so you can relax and enjoy your time at the campsite or get busy helping your retreat attendees enjoy themselves while they are staying with you.

Buy or Find a Quality Projector

If you want to organise the experience yourself, there are lots of quality projectors available second-hand or new. One excellent option is the BenQ GS1 outdoor projector. It’s lightweight, weighing just under a kilogram, and robust enough for outdoor use. The projector comes with a bright orange waterproof case, making it splash-proof – an essential feature if you are in an area where sudden rain isn’t uncommon even on clear nights. The BenQ GS1 also boasts a three-hour battery life, perfect for a standard movie length, and additional batteries are available if you plan to host a marathon or trilogy screening.

Prepare All Necessary Supplies

Anyone who frequents the cinema understands that several key elements make for an enjoyable movie night

  • First and foremost, there’s the classic combo of Coke and popcorn—preferably in large quantities.
  • Next, the venue should have a great atmosphere and comfortable seating
  • Of course, the screen should be as large as possible to immerse in the experience fully
  • And finally, an audience to share the moment with completes the perfect night out

Use A VPN If You Need One

Selecting the perfect movie is crucial for creating the right atmosphere for your evening. Keep your audience in mind and choose a film that is either family-friendly or a classic with broad appeal. To ensure everyone is happy with the choice, consider polling your guests before the event to determine their preferences.

When you try to download or play a movie, you may encounter one significant problem – regional restrictions. This is where knowing how to use a VPN will come in handy. With a couple of clicks and a good VPN for Paramount Plus, Netflix or another streaming service, you can unblock access to any movie in the library. This life hack will be useful both during camping and at home when searching for a new series.

Select the Perfect Screen

Selecting the perfect screen to accompany your projector is crucial for an optimal viewing experience. You have a few choices: inflatable screens, DIY white sheets, or specialized outdoor movie screens. Inflatable screens are user-friendly and deliver an authentic cinematic ambience. If you prefer a budget-friendly option, DIY white sheets can work, provided they are smooth and wrinkle-free to enhance image quality. For those seeking the best clarity and durability, specialized outdoor movie screens are ideal, though they are more expensive.

Arrange Comfortable Seating

Comfortable seating plays a crucial role in making movie nights enjoyable. Opt for cosy and breathable options, but remember to prepare for cooler temperatures if you live where it tends to get chilly at night. Offer a variety of seating choices, such as blankets, pillows, and outdoor cushions, so your guests can lounge comfortably. If you are short on seating, consider asking your guests to bring their lawn chairs or camping chairs for added comfort and support. Alternatively, you can use crates and other options to make Instagramable seating for you and your guests. See the image below for inspiration.

outdoor cinema layout with tables and chairs

Set Up the Audio

Achieving an immersive audio experience doesn’t require a full surround sound setup. Focus on acquiring clear and crisp sound quality. Consider investing in portable speakers or integrating your projector with an existing sound system. Ensure the audio is sufficiently loud for all attendees to enjoy. Before the movie night, conduct a thorough sound check to confirm everything is functioning properly.

Prepare for Weather

Given the outdoor nature of the event, monitoring the weather forecast is vital. Unpredictable conditions could arrive out of the blue so making a contingency plan is a good idea. Should outdoor activities seem unworkable because of weather conditions, consider rescheduling or relocating indoors. Alternatively, you can set up tents or teepees to shield guests from the wind or rain if it’s not too bad.

Choosing an evening when the weather is warm and dry is the best idea as sitting outside can quickly become chilly. After all, you want your audience to be comfortable, to stay dry and for your screen not to blow over! Getting this right is key to a great outdoor cinema experience.

Planning Tips

To make sure everything goes perfectly, follow these simple planning tips.

  • Decide what you want to watch in advance and make sure everyone is in agreement
  • Make sure you have good sound and the tech is working properly
  • Check your electricity power needs and that your cables will reach, and bring extension cords if they don’t
  • Opt for a quiet location free from excessive noise and distractions, such as cars passing by or curious onlookers.
  • Ideally, you’ll want some daylight to set everything up, but darkness will be essential to enjoy the film the best way. And we mean completely dark. Dusk won’t work so it’s worth remembering that in the summer months, it doesn’t get truly dark until 11 pm.

Don’t Forget The Popcorn!

Every good outdoor cinema experience comes with an array of snacks. If you can have a campfire then getting your audience to make their own before the show starts is a great way to enhance your camping experience. Some of our favourite snacks to go with the popcorn are:

  • S’mores – chocolate, marshmallows and sweet crackers… what’s not to love?!
  • Chai tea – we love this warmed in a cup with frothy almond or oat milk
  • Campfire cones – a savour delight and soooooo easy to make!

Our final thoughts on making an outdoor cinema experience at the campsite perfect

To ensure your camping movie night goes smoothly, be well prepared. Use a high-quality projector and a large, securely anchored screen and pair this with a good sound system. Then provide comfortable seating like lawn chairs, blankets, and cushions, and enhance the ambience with string lights, candles and insect repellent. Offer a variety of snacks and drinks, and where possible, allow your audience to make their own using the campfire. Check the weather forecast, start the movie after sunset when it’s truly dark (the best way to view the film), and consider pre-movie activities. Send out invitations early, ensure restroom access, and test all equipment beforehand. Have extension cords and backup power sources ready to ensure a smooth experience.

If you pull it off, you will have the perfect outdoor cinema experience while camping that others will rave about until the next time you visit the campsite. In fact, your biggest problem might be keeping the audience numbers manageable!


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