As I live in Handbridge, within walking distance of the Roman Gardens, I joined the couples and families strolling into Chester in the early evening with my chairs in hand. A quick pit stop at the Sandy box was a nice way to start the date night and as we didn’t need to drive, it was lovely to have a cold beer after a long week of work. I did feel a bit random walking round town looking like a lost camper, but if you’re local then it becomes a regular sight when these nights are on.
The entry itself is easy to find and clearly sign posted, and because we came after the initial opening time there wasn’t a queue. We were handed our headsets and given brief but easy instructions on how to use them, then went off to find a spot. As we stopped off for a beer, we were a little later than expected and didn’t get a seat right at the front.
I personally loved the ambience in the Roman Gardens and the setting makes it a romantic evening cosied up on the camp chairs. We brought our own snacks from Tesco Express which is handily just down the road, and tucked into popcorn (a must have when watching a film) as well as a couple of cans of G&T. Moonlight Flicks also offer Pizza Express delivery food and I was so envious when I could smell trademark garlic dough balls!
This is most definitely about the experience and less about the film. The picture isn’t the clearest as everyone is sat on a flat rather than a slope, and unless you’re a very early bird you end up pretty far from the screen. But don’t let that dampen your opinion, once the sun has set it was easy to get sucked into the film without the distraction of anyone rustling thanks to the headphones. It’s a unique and fun experience and definitely something to try out in 2018.
Top tips for 2018
Bring gin or prosecco. It makes the whole experience feel that little more special because when else is it socially acceptable to bring alcohol to watch a film?
If you’re in a big group it’s definitely work getting there before gates open if you want to sit together and actually be able to see (45 mins before the film starts). The Gardens are a stunning setting but with no sloping hill, turning up on time means you’ll end up sitting wayyyy back.
Layers are key. That balmy night was great at the beginning but as soon as it got dark it became cold. I brought a thick scarf and it worked a treat but I did end up having to share it with my other half who definitely didn’t think through his outfit. Think fleece or wool blankets and thick hoodies.
Pizza please. We’d eaten before we came out but looking at everyone tucking into their boxes of pizza definitely made me jealous and I think it would be a great way to top off the evening. On the flip side, prepare yourself for the disruption. People will be constantly popping up to collect their orders throughout most of the film. As I mentioned in the review, this event isn’t for you if that will get on your nerves (unless of course you’re right at the front).
Rain Macs at the ready. We didn’t need these but it was clear when we got in there that putting up a brolly would have been a big no no and blocked all those behind us, so bear that in mind when packing your bag. The event is cancelled if the rain is heavy or drawn out. You can get a full refund or a free ticket to another available showing.
Choose your throne wisely. You’ll be sat on that thing for 2-3 hours. That throw you’ve packed can double as a cushion to avoid numb bums and I would also recommend the higher chairs rather than loungers especially if you can’t get there early. Check out what’s on offer at Mountain Warehouse on Northgate Street.
Get noisy. This is your opportunity to scoff popcorn and crisps to your heart’s delight – no one can hear it with headphones on, not even you.
Sit back and relax. Moonlight Flicks is a fab night out but it’s definitely all about the ‘experience’ and less about the film as there are lost of tiny distractions unlike in your mainstream cinema. Still, we loved it and will definitely be returning next year!