Madrid: Open Air, the coolest summer cinema

Open Air Madrid

The Open Air show has been in a number of cities around the globe, and came to Madrid as part of the "Summer in The Village" program, a yearly event spanning the summer months, where city dwellers can enjoy concerts, exhibitions, sport events, activities for kids, all at reasonable prices if not free, and most under the sun or stars, which is the whole point of having a summer program.

I still get a rush when I think of my Open Air experience. Wow and double wow. This isn't just an uncouth middle aged woman who's never seen technology displayed at full swing, this is a traveler in high circles who's seen quite a few of the novel and delightful wonders of the XXI Century. AHEM. To make a long story short: I was bowed!

The screen, surround sound and light systems

The screen is folded until the show begins, as you can see in the photo above. Unfolding it is part of the show, and don't mind me if I say it's one of the most fascinating parts of it.

Unfolded, the screen is about 300 square meters, that's almost 1000 square feet, as big as a tennis court or, if you'd rather compare with other cinema screens, this one is 3 times bigger than your usual theater screen.

The screen unfolding

When the show is ready to begin, a voiceover warns everyone to sit back and enjoy, the monstrous Dolby 5.1 surround system, qualified for rock concerts, booms like the world is ending and a series of lights and lasers start dancing on time with the music.

Unfolding the screen takes about 90 seconds, and it doesn't reach a full vertical position, it's left slightly tilted towards the ground, to facilitate viewing. Smart, eh?

The auditorium

Open air auditorium in Tierno Galvan Park
Open air auditorium in Tierno Galvan Park

Open Air, as its name indicates, it's always an under the stars affair, so it will be installed on parks, city squares, football stadiums or the likes. Madrid found a fabulous location for the show, an open air auditorium in Tierno Galvan park, a green complex where Madrid's IMAX theater and Planetarium are also located.

As you can see in the satellite image, the auditorium is reminiscent of a Roman anfitheater, I'd seen this location on news reports a number of times, but I'd never been to it before, what do you know. In general, it hosts music shows, rock or classic, and spectators sit on the ground, with a comfortable space between rows where the grass grows.

Is this cool, or what?!
Is this cool, or what?!

For the Open Air show, however, people won't sit on the floor, but on deck chairs, voila!

After clearing the access passage, one comes face to face with approximately 1000 deck chairs lined up in front of the screen and it's, oh, I don't know, charming to boot! So once the movie starts one literally lays back to enjoy the show!

The grounds

Lounge it, baby!
Lounge it, baby!

If all the technical setup and hammock-like comfort factor still didn't sell it to you, I'm not done yet and there is further enticement to drag you to the next Open Air event in Madrid, or elsewhere.

The movie and the high tech display is just part one of this fantastic summer event, part two is the bars and restaurants and special DJ shows that go on till the wee hours. When the movie ends, the space remains open as a huge disco slash pub slash lounge area which you can enjoy till you drop (in your deck chair!), or ortherwise until you're kicked out at 3 am.

Popcorn stand!
Popcorn stand!

There are hot dog stands, popcorn stands (evidently, my dear Watson, popcorn couldn't be missing in the movies!), ice cream stands, a sushi and salad bar, some hot food areas too, with the ever present Spanish omelet, croquettes, and some other typical Spanish finger food.

The drink selection ranges from water and sodas to beer and other stronger beverages, if that's your cup of tea once the night has fallen. There was a tropical drinks stand, serving margaritas, daiquiris, mohitos, caipirinhas, piña coladas. I particularly liked the Orange lounge, which reminded me of a chic beach joint.

And, because this is all open air, you can either sit around the tables strategically placed on the little hills on the sides of the screen (see them on the left of the popcorn stand), or you can take everything to your deck chair and have it there.

There were some cute usherettes, too!

Mademoiselles les usherettes
Mademoiselles les usherettes

Now will you take a gander and these girls, all decked out in their usherette uniforms! Is it, or is it not, the coolest, freshest, dandiest uniform ever?

Pssst... pssst... Isn't she forgetting something?

Yes she is! A kind of relevant aspect, too. You're probably wondering what plays on Open Air, aren't you. Well, this is no regular summer cinema affair playing last year's hits or B&W classics or reruns of "I Love Lucy". Nothing against those, don't misunderstand me, but Open Air is in a class of its own when it comes to summer cinema. From the 12 nights it was in Madrid, there were 5 pre-releases and the rest were current hits from 2010 season. If nothing else worked as motivation, I hope this will!

Don't miss it, if it opens near you!

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Comments 9 comments

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

There you are, Elena...should have known you were off somewhere having a truly interesting experience! :)


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

This is so nice! Another peek into your side of the fence! Wish we had an open air cinema here. I also like the uniforms of the usherettes, very flowing.


Wanderlust profile image

Wanderlust 6 years ago from New York City

It is so cool! I love open air cinemas, they remind me summers from my childhood. This one is definitely the coolest I ever seen!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for showing and sharing this great place.


ocbill profile image

ocbill 6 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

looks very exciting. I wish I was there now.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Howdo everyone!

Hey Feline! Like I recently said, lately I'd rather be outdoors than indoors, and boy, am I having a nice summer! :-)

Violet! This is a movable event, it may yet arrive in your neck of the woods, check out how many cities this has been to in the website I linked! And the usherettes were simply lovely, all tanned and with these flowing "robe-like" uniforms :-)


Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Wanderlust, when I bought the tickets I also thought back to my childhood, and those summer cinemas where the screen was a bed sheet! Those were the times, eh? :-) It seems, though, that the world has turned a few times since, this Open Air thingy is amazing!

Hello, Hello & Ocbill, maybe you guys will get to see it too, who knows where this will visit next?!


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

Wow! It's like the super modern, maxed out version of our old drive-in theatres, nearly gone now, but a few still pepper the landscape. Makes me want to go to yours!!!

So how are you, my sweet Castillion?


Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Hey Chris! That's exactly what it is, a maxed out version of the typical summer cinema :-)

This Spanish chica alternates between being under disgusting piles of work and sliding from under them to play a little bit in this fine summer of ours -- of late, she's not exceedingly attracted to computers outside of business hours!

Besos to you!

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