If you rewound my life back just a short 2 years ago, I would have been blissfully unaware that an outdoor cinema in your garden was a thing!
In fact, I was probably even unaware that I had a garden as I spent little time in it.
It mainly consisted of bushes, trees and a lot of mess and wasn’t really a space I could use to entertain and sit with the family. It definitely wasn’t a place to sit when it got dark with copious amounts of marshmallows, popcorn, large cosy knitted blankets and cosy sheepskin slippers.
I don’t really like being outside after dark. Not because of some weird fear of werewolves or vampires lurking in the bushes, waiting to pounce and feast on my blood once the sun sets…
It’s mainly because I hate the cold and I’d rather be tucked up inside with a cup of tea (oh, ok, a G&T) with a big woolly blanket thrown over my knees.
However, I’ve always liked the idea of an outdoor cinema at home.
In the summer of 2020, outdoor cinemas started to pop up everywhere.
As we were confined to our homes, people came up with weird and wonderful ways to entertain themselves and having an outdoor cinema in your garden was high up on the list.
I started seeing people throwing up old sheets in between their garden trees and dragging out their old Epson projectors they had bought for home cinema use and I was like a kid in a sweet shop!
Oooooooh. I showed a picture to Mr B. He was nonplussed as usual, but I was determined to be a fun Mum and make it happen!
And make it happen we did!
We bought a Nebula Mars II and a Duronic projector screen from Amazon and set about putting it up in the playroom to test it out. It became a huge hit in the playroom and it never ventured outside.
That was until 2020 happened. As we were not able to go to the cinema, we decided to create an outdoor cinema at home.
We knew we had to mix it up a bit and make the weekend feel a little more special.
We already had the cinema set up inside, so we decided to turn our garden around and make a real home-from-home cosy corner.
I wanted it to be a place where we could eat, drink and set up our outdoor cinema equipment so we could all enjoy a family movie night.
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How do you set up a movie night in the garden?
I have had so many people message me about how to set up an outdoor cinema in your garden and what outdoor cinema equipment we used, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it.
Decide where your outdoor cinema equipment is going
The first step is to decide where your outdoor cinema equipment is going.
Have you got a large wall or fence it could back onto? Maybe the side of your house or shed? If you’re lucky enough to have a pergola, maybe hang it from that?
We have a large double garage and have put nails into the wall so that the screen can be placed there.
Another consideration is the position of the sun.
We mainly use our outdoor cinema from May – October so the sun doesn’t set until gone 8 pm most nights.
Try and put it somewhere so that the sun is either behind the screen or towards the back of it or you won’t see anything until gone 9 pm!
Choose your screen
You don’t have to go all out and buy a screen.
If you have a white wall in your garden, use that. You could even hang up a plain white sheet and use it as a projector screen.
We decided to purchase one as we knew we wanted to use it for our outdoor cinema and indoors.
We went for a Duronic projector screen which can either be hung from the ceiling or straight onto the wall. It easily pulls down and winds up when you’re finished.
I would definitely go for a wide-screen projector though, ours isn’t so we either have to reduce the size of the picture or the picture gets cut off.
Amazon has plenty, Von Haus does one that you can connect straight to a wall.
If you do not have anywhere to attach or hang a projector screen, you can also buy a projector screen with a stand, but they will be more expensive.
Now the important part, what projector?
I also get asked can you use a projector in the garden?
You can pretty much use any projector on the market in the garden, just remember to take it indoors again when you’re finished.
Another consideration when looking for outdoor cinema equipment is the audio quality. Your projector will have to work that little bit harder outside, so spending a little bit more money will ensure you get a better sound quality.
It is a minefield when it comes to projectors. There are so many good quality products to buy, it can be a bit overwhelming.
I would really recommend spending some money on a decent-quality projector though. If you are going to be watching it outside, you want the picture to be as good as it can get.
We bought the Nebula Mars II and have been thoroughly impressed with it so far.
The picture quality is razor-sharp and the sound is not too tinny (one of my pet hates!) It has immersive stereo sound and it can stretch to a 150-inch image.
We have also had the Nebula Capsule which is the cheaper version of the Mars II and the size of a can of coke, so perfect if you want to take it camping with you!
It can stretch to a 100-inch image, has an 8W speaker and has a 4 hours of video playtime.
The best thing about these projectors is that they run on an Android system.
You can download multiple apps to run all your favourite shows and films, such as Netflix, YouTube and Prime TV.
You can also download the Nebula Connect App and control it from your phone.
There are plenty of other fabulous projectors out there, but these two are the only ones I’ve had experience in and I would highly recommend them!
Set up your own Outdoor Cinema cosy corner
Comfort is key when you are thinking about creating an outdoor cinema in your garden.
You want to be able to get cosy and warm whilst watching a film, so a large outdoor sofa or corner seating area is a good idea.
Add plenty of cushions and throws so your family and friends can settle down for a few hours and enjoy the film without getting frostbite!
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The finishing touches
You’ve got your outdoor cinema equipment set up and seating area ready to go for your family movie night, now you need to think about the final touches.
Soft lighting is a good idea so people can still see where they’ve placed their popcorn or how to get to the bathroom without having to carry a torch.
Festoon lights or fairy lights (I love ours from lights4fun.co.uk) are perfect for this. You can also add some solar-powered lanterns and candles to give your garden a really warm glow.
Festoon Lights are in huge demand at the moment – lights4fun.co.uk
Finally, think about investing in a fire pit!
We absolutely love ours and it is perfect for the colder UK evenings we get in the summer.
I love hearing the fire crackle whilst watching a film! And obviously, it is great for toasting marshmallows.
The hardest part about creating an outdoor cinema at home is choosing the best outdoor cinema equipment for your space.
However, don’t let the summer pass you by before you’ve made your choice!
It’s still fun watching the projector indoors but there’s something special about watching a movie at an outdoor cinema!
The beauty of buying outdoor cinema equipment is that you can use it indoors and outside in your garden.
It’s great fun all year round and ours gets a lot of use!
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