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Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Open air travel, open air film screenings - which of London's piers are nearest an open air cinema?

You can steal and adapt the content of this post - I think it's quite important to share info about enjoying London as safely as possible.

To the extent possible under law, Jo Brodie has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Open air travel, open air film screenings - which of London's piers are nearest an open air cinema?. This work is published from: United Kingdom

This means that you can copy, paste and amend the text of this post (and this post only) and republish it without my permission or without crediting me :) Tell everyone about the films and the ferries.


Yesterday afternoon I went to see Moana at Archlight's open air cinema, at the Coaling Jetty at Battersea Power Station. I travelled there from Greenwich Pier on a Thames Clipper ferry and arrived at Battersea Power Station Pier around 40 minutes later and then made the reverse journey home later. Sometimes you have to change at Canary Wharf (or London Bridge) but mine was a direct service.

Archlight also linked up with Thames Clippers and offered a pair of free tickets to one of their events (not just cinema) and have a section on ferries in the 'how to get here' part of their page. 

Given that people are encouraged to avoid 'too many other people while inside' I think travelling to open air cinema screenings by ferry is rather on point. Nearly all of the Thames Clippers ferries have seats at the back which are open to the elements and it's rather nice, especially on a hot day, to enjoy the breeze. Quite a few of them have an on-board bar as well (also soft drinks and snacks).

NOTE: not all piers are open all the time, some routes miss some piers out and the last boat home may not include your preferred end or starting pier so do check timetables and delays info on Twitter before booking tickets.

Big list of open air film screenings in London 

Thames Clippers ferries

Thames River Boats

Thames River Services

The following piers are reasonably near an open air cinema screening.

Battersea Pier
Thames Clippers run a regular service to Battersea Power Station's pier which is right next to the place where Archlight's open air cinema is (exit the pier's gangway, turn left). 

[Summer Showtime at Battersea Power Station] [Archlight Open Air Cinema] [PDF of screenings] [Battersea Pier info - it's wheelchair accessible, Last boat to central London, Canary Wharf and Greenwich: 21:32 weekdays, 22:30 weekends. Last boat to Putney: 20:24 weekdays.]


Blackfriars Pier
Pop Up Screens will be showing The Greatest Showman, Moonlight, Philadelphia, The Beach, Dreamgirls and The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Guildhall Yard in the City of London, in August. The venue is about a 15-20 minute walk from Blackfriars Pier [route]. 

[Pop Up Screens] [Blackfriars Pier - it's wheelchair accessible]


Cadogan Pier (Chelsea)
Luna Cinema is showing four films (Top Gun, The Greatest Showman, Grease and Star Wars: A New Hope) at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea which is a 15-20 minute walk from Cadogan Pier [route], but note that the pier has only a limited service in the evenings. 

[Luna Cinema] [Cadogan Pier - is NOT wheelchair accessible. This pier is only open in the morning and evening, last boat to central London, Canary Wharf and Greenwich: 21:26 weekdays, last boat to Putney: 20:54.]


Greenwich Pier (Cutty Sark)
Tramshed in Woolwich are showing a free sing-along version of The Greatest Showman in Greenwich Park. Greenwich Pier is a short walk from Greenwich Park / National Maritime Museum and is well-served by Thames Clippers. The pier is right in the heart of Greenwich and is usually very busy, particularly in good weather. During busy times arriving is easier than leaving as you may have to queue for a departing boat and might not get on the first one. 

[Tramshed screening] [Greenwich Pier - is wheelchair accessible, last boats from Greenwich Pier to North Greenwich, Royal Wharf and Woolwich: 23:11 weekdays, 23:29 weekends, last boat to Canary Wharf, central London and Putney: 21:38 weekdays, 21:36 weekends]


Hampton Court
Luna Cinema are showing five films (The Dark Knight, Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, The Greatest Showman [sing-along] and Bohemian Rhapsody) at Hampton Court this year. There is a pier here but at the moment there are no ferries from Westminster running, but there are occasional services from Richmond Pier. I'd not rely on this for a timed performance though, it's also very dependent on the tide. 

[Thames River Boats] [Luna Cinema]


London Bridge City Pier
#SummerByTheRiver at Scoop, More London (next to City Hall and near HMS Belfast) screens free subtitled films every Tuesday evening at 7.30pm. London Bridge City Pier is the closest and on the same side of the river. Tower Bridge is also very close too but its piers (there are two) are on the opposite side of the river. 

[London Bridge City's Summer By the River] [London Bridge City Pier - is not wheelchair accessible. Last boat to Canary Wharf, Greenwich and Woolwich: 22:44 weekdays and 23:02 weekends. Last boat to Westminster, Battersea Power Station and Putney: 22:04 weekdays and 21:59 weekends.]


London Eye pier (Waterloo)
Bar Elba in Waterloo is screening loads of films on its rooftop and London Eye pier isn't far away (granted trains /buses are closer!).

[Bar Elba] [Film screenings PDF] [London Eye pier - is wheelchair accessible, last boats from London Eye pier: 22:29 weekdays, 22:11 weekends but on weekends it's a ~10m walk across Hungerford Bridge [route] to get to Embankment Pier for a last boat to Greenwich at 22:50]


Millbank Pier
Luna Cinema is screening three films (Romeo + Juliet, Sister Act and Moulin Rouge!) at Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster (8.45pm 3-5 August) and the venue is closest to (and on the same side of the river as) Millbank Pier, but note that ferries can get you to the cinema but not back again as the last boat leaves before the film begins. 

[Luna Cinema] [Millbank Pier - is wheelchair accessible, last boats from Millbank Pier to Embankment, Tower and Bankside (for Tate Modern): 17:20 weekdays, 20:45 weekends, last boat to Battersea Power Station or Putney: 16:28 weekdays, 20:20 weekends]

North Greenwich Pier
Pop Up Screens is showing Grease, Back to the Future and 500 Days of Summer this weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun / 23, 24, 25 July) at Greenwich Peninsula.

[Pop Up Screens] [North Greenwich Pier - is wheelchair accessible, last boat towards Woolwich: 23:19 weekdays, 23:37 weekends, last boat to Canary Wharf, central London and Putney: 21:30 weekdays, 21:26 weekends]


Putney Pier
Pop Up Screens is showing Rocket Man, A Star is Born and The Greatest Showman in Bishop's Park Fulham on the 3-5 September, and 10 Things I Hate About You, Dirty Dancing and The Goonies in the same place from 24-26 September. Putney Pier is on the opposite side of the river, cross Putney Bridge. 

[Pop Up Screens] [Putney Pier - is wheelchair accessible. Last boat to London and Canary Wharf: 21:00 weekdays. First boat arrives there at 17:08 so the ferries can get you there but not home, for these screenings.]


St George Wharf (Vauxhall)
Summer Screen Vauxhall has some free (need to reserve a ticket) screenings, every Tuesday, from 27 July to 17 August: Emperor’s New Groove, Mamma Mia!, Paddington 2 and Black Panther - all start at 7pm and take place at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens which is not too far [route] from St George Wharf, Vauxhall.

[Summer Screen Vauxhall] [St George Wharf - is wheelchair accessible. Last boat to central London, Canary Wharf and Greenwich: 22:44 weekdays, 23:02 weekends. Last boat to Battersea Power Station and Putney: 20:18 weekdays, 22:22 weekends] 


Tower Bridge piers
St Kat's Floating Film Festival is screening Rocketman (today 22 July, 7pm), Jojo Rabbit (23 July 7pm), Aladdin Live Action and Misbehaviour (both on 24 July, 2pm and 7pm) and The Lion King - live action (2019) on 25 July at 2pm. The screening pontoon is near Cote, by Tower Bridge.

Last week I saw an earlier screening of Jojo Rabbit at St Kat's, on a floating pontoon at the St Katharine Docks marina. I took a ferry there and back again which was perhaps overdoing it a little for water-based entertainment. There are two piers, Thames Clippers has a more frequent service stopping at Tower Millennium Pier - if you arrive after the riverside passage through the Tower of London has closed use the grey route here, otherwise the blue is fine. Tower Bridge Quay is closer and served by Thames River Services but boats are less frequent and stop early.

[St Kat's Floating Film Festival] [Tower Millennium Pier (Thames Clippers) - is wheelchair accessible] [Tower Bridge Quay (Thames River Services) - accessibility not listed, serves Westminster, Embankment, Tower Bridge Quay and Greenwich (Cutty Sark) piers]


Wandsworth Riverside Quarter Pier
Luna Cinema is showing Some Like it Hot, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Princess Bride but note that while you'll be able to arrive using the Thames Clippers you're unlikely to be able to get the last boat home (9.10pm) to London / Canary Wharf. The films all start at 7.30pm and the one with the shortest run time is The Princess Bride (at 1hr 38).

[Luna Cinema] [Wandsworth Pier - is not Wheelchair accessible, but nearby Putney Pier is, and is on same side of the river. The pier is only open in the morning and evening, first boat arrives at 17:03. Last boat to London and Canary Wharf: 21:10]


Westminster Pier
Luna Cinema is showing Knives Out, The Dark Knight, The Greatest Showman and Notting Hill at 9pm from (29 July to 1 August) at Westminster Abbey, nearest pier is Westminster but you won't be able to take a boat home as they stop too early.

[Luna Cinema] [Westminster Pier - is wheelchair accessible. Last boat towards Tower, Canary Wharf and Greenwich: 22:25 weekdays, 22:45 weekends. Last boat to Battersea Power Station, Millbank (for Tate Britain) and Putney: 22:20 weekdays, 22:15 weekends]


Woolwich Pier
St George's Garrison Church is a ~20 minute long walk (uphill, route) from Woolwich Pier, and is showing Coco on 14 August and Dunkirk on 3 September, both free (but need a ticket for August, not for the September screening).

[St George's Garrison Church] [Woolwich Pier - is wheelchair accessible. Woolwich is a terminus pier (on weekdays it's open in the morning and evening - first boat arrives at 17:22). Last boat to Greenwich, Canary Wharf and central London: 21:20 weekdays, 21:00 weekends]

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