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Top 5 unique cinema experiences in the country

Unique cinema experiences - Corina Rainer

An IMAX experience complete with 3D goggles and surround sound you can almost feel is impressive and – don’t get us wrong – enjoyable too. And, sometimes lazing around in our PJs and streaming a movie from the comfort of your couch is what hits the sweet spot. What we really love though, and what we’re seeing less and less of, are independent movie houses offering unique cinema experiences. We have compiled a list of some of our favourite one-of-a-kind movie experiences for when the usual just doesn’t quite cut it.

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Top unique cinema experiences in Cape Town

Galileo Open Air Cinema

October signals the start of Summer in Cape Town and, with it, the start of Galileo Open Air Cinema’s seven-month-long annual show run. Hosted in some of Cape Town’s most beautiful, natural settings like the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Somerset West and Paarl, Galileo Open Air Cinema offers guests what they’ve so aptly dubbed “a cinemagical experience.” Guests are encouraged to arrive early to make the most of the delicious food options, snacks and beverages sold at the mini market. Once everyone’s comfortably seated in their preferred spots on the lawn, it’s time to kick back and enjoy a variety of family favourites, musicals and cult classics. 

Tickets: Starting at R140 per person, available here.

Venue: Depends on the day of the week. Check it out here.

Movie lineup: Available here.

The Labia Theatre

Unique cinema experiences - The Labia theatre

Originally a ballroom for the Italian Embassy, The Labia Theatre is named after Princess Labia who opened the venue in 1949 for staging live performances. For the last four decades, The Labia Theatre has been operating as a cinema for screening less commercial and more alternative, arty local and international films. In addition to its niche movie repertoire, the intimate venue beams with old-world charm. Complete with a classic box office and a snack and beverage counter where you can even enjoy alcoholic slushies, the oldest independent art cinema in South Africa is a cinematic experience like no other.

Tickets: Starting at R70 per person, available here. They also run specials with restaurants in the area where you can get dinner and tickets for really amazing prices.

Venue: 68 Orange Street, Gardens.

Movie lineup: Available here.

The Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema, The Grand Daddy Hotel

Located on the rooftop of The Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street, The Pink Flamingo is something of a pop-up cinema. Currently, the venue is available at R2500 for approximately ten to fifteen people. Depending on the length of the film, they’re happy to take requests. However, because the hotel offers rooftop accommodation for a limited number of guests, movies don’t often run later than 21:00, at which time the bar also closes. From March onwards, The Pink Flamingo will be screening movies free of charge for anyone who wants to experience classics in a quirky, rooftop setting, drink in hand. 

Tickets: Contact 021 207 8888 for information.

Venue: 38 Long Street, City Centre.

Movie lineup: Currently taking requests.

Top unique cinema experiences in Joburg

The Bioscope

Unique cinema experiences - The bioscope

The Bioscope is the opposite of what you’d expect from a commercial cinema. It’s relatively small, seating only 47 people. They only screen one show at a time and their list of movies screening is often very different from the latest releases. The Bioscope places a big emphasis on local films and collaborate with embassies to screen films from around the world. Also, they’re not always screening movies. Sometimes it’s live music or even stand-up comedy. Check out our in-depth review of The Bioscope here

Tickets: Starting at R100, available here.

Venue: 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark 

Movie lineup: Available here.

Molly Malone's Roadhouse

Molly Malone’s is the classic kind of drive-in that oozes nostalgia and old-school charm. Complete with a roadhouse and a pub, they serve burgers and milkshakes and bring it right to the window of your car as you sit back and enjoy a decent selection of classics. Thursdays are for throwbacks – from the early aughts, as well as a couple of more recent films. Saturdays are for keeping it current, thrown into the mix for good measure. 

Tickets: R60 per person, available here.

Venue: Cnr. Forest Road & Sunset Boulevard.

Movie lineup: Available here.

Find more arts and culture content here

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If you feel that we’ve missed one of your fave hangouts then please let us know in the comment section below.

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