If I was to tell you that I went to the cinema last night, you might think “Well, that’s lovely for you, Sarah, although it’s something countless people do every week”. However, the cinema I went to may be like nothing else in the world because there’s a lot more to it than just sitting in front of a screen!
There are two screens at the Backyard Cinema in Wandsworth (south London), both currently set up to watch Christmas films every day. However, to get to the screen, you walk through a mysterious land. The Winter Night Garden starts by walking through a Narnia wardrobe, past the hanging coats and through a snowy forest before reaching your giant bean bag seats to watch your film.
However, I went to the Snow Kingdom and the journey begins with stepping into a mysterious cottage crammed with old curiosities. After snaking through the packed wooden shelves, you’re then taken in groups of about 10 to the next stage where you stand in a tiny room and the guide tells you about the importance of the stag head placed over an old fireplace. To go any further on your journey, everyone has to a place a hand on the fireplace and declare aloud “I believe in Santa“! Once the guide believes you’ve said it convincingly enough, the fireplace ‘opens up’ and you duck underneath to get to the next stage when you walk up a beautifully lit ramp to the fiery ball pit! Yes, us adults had to wade through a ball pit! Now, I knew about this as I saw it on the company’s promotional video and I did express concern to my husband as I couldn’t see how people got in or out and I had visions of becoming trapped in it, unable to pull myself out!! But helpful steps prevented me from making a complete fool of myself. And then it was into the cinema itself to watch Bridget Jones’s Diary which is a special film for me as I first saw it with a friend I lost many years ago to cancer. Watching it with about 250 people all seated on rows of comfy bean bag chairs in a warm marquee was amazing. We even had a snow machine at one point and Christmas songs played. And there’s even a bar at the back and a short film telling everyone the story of the Backyard Cinema that originated from a guy showing films to his mates in his garden through to now using former TV studios.
And beyond the cinema and walk-through experience, there’s street food with lots of seating and a bar open until 11 or 11.30pm depending on when you visit. Yes, this is a brilliant place to go to with family and friends (it’s suitable for children too) but even if you’re on your own (which I was), it’s just as good.
This season at the Backyard Cinema is almost sold out so you’ll have to be very quick to grab a seat if you want to go this year. Feel free to share this post with your friends. But it was truly the most unusual evening out and something that’s now been finally ticked off my bucket list.
So, what’s planned next this month? I’m heading off to a medieval Christmas set in a Shropshire castle next weekend which looks spectacular and then off to ‘Christmas by the River’ in the London Bridge area.
Have you got anything planned in the lead up to Christmas? Any events you’re going to for the first time or ones that you look forward to year in, year out? I’d love to hear.
Have a great weekend everyone xx