It has been a long, hot summer in Berlin and the Freiluftkinos (literally, ‘free air cinemas’) have been doing a roaring trade. Nothing beats sitting under the stars watching a good movie. And the great news for English speakers is that many of them are shown in the original version with German sub-titles. You just need to look for the letters ‘OmU’ (Originalversion mit Untertiteln). Entrance costs about seven or eight euros and the films start after dark, depending on the time of sunset. For a complete list of all the open-air cinemas in Berlin just follow the link at visitBerlin where you can find details of what films are showing and how to get there by public transport. Here are my own top four favourite Freiluftkinos which have the largest choice of films in English.
A crowd begins to gather at dusk at the Sommerkino Kulturforum
The most central open-air cinema is the Sommerkino Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz. Deckchairs are provided and the huge screen is rolled on to the open area in the middle of the Kulturforum – a collection of cultural buildings established in the 1950s and 60s at the southern edge of the Tiergarten in West Berlin after most of the once unified city’s cultural assets had been lost behind the Berlin Wall. Now this whole area has been transformed by the redevelopment of Manhatten-style Potsdamer Platz. Its bright lights shimmer in the night sky and form a perfect backdrop to an inner-city outdoor cinema experience.
The huge screen on wheels at the Sommerkino
In Kreuzberg the Freiluftkino has been going for over 20 years and is one of the oldest in Berlin. The programme includes current, classic and cult movies and there is plenty of world cinema too. Foreign films are in the original versions with German subtitles and German films have English subtitles. The setting is magical – the chairs and screen are set out on a pretty tree-lined lawn behind the iconic Bethanien Arts Centre on Mariannenplatz.
The cinema screen at the Freiluftkino Kreuzberg
If you are prepared to wander a little further afield I can highly recommend a summer night at the movies in the Freiluftkino Hasenheide in Neukölln. Strings of white lights guide your way through this spacious city park to a Greek theatre-style setting with seating on benches. There are sausages, wine, beer and soft drinks on sale from the wooden hut and the whole experience is a step back in time. Again, current and cult movies are on offer, some in their original versions.
Freiluftkino Hasenheide – in fairy-tale park surroundings
Finally, the Freiluftkino Friedrichshain is the largest in Berlin with over 1,500 seats and masses of space to set up tables and chairs or just sit on the grass in this huge people’s park not far from Alexanderplatz. Here, most of the films are dubbed into German but you can catch one or two original versions if you check their website.
A large crowd enjoying the Friedrichshain moonlit movie