Sion Sommerkino
A floating screen with a cityscape backdrop: Sion Sommerkino Photo: Christoph Söldner

Open-air cinemas in Cologne: star-gazing of a different kind

Arthouse, blockbuster or documentary, at the beer garden, by the river or in your car - enjoy a cult film at one of Cologne's outdoor cinemas.

Culture by the riverside: Sion Sommerkino BAY

Sion Sommerkino am Rheinauhafen
The audience enjoying the evening sun at Sion Sommerkino Photo: Dustin Preick

The River Rhine at your feet and a view across the marina to the cathedral – is there a better way to spend a balmy evening in Cologne? With 600 (very sought-after) seats on the steps of Cologne’s Rheinauhafen harbour district and a floating screen, Sion Sommerkino provides the perfect setting to enjoy a movie.

As well as being one of the nicest open-air cinemas in Cologne, Sion Sommerkino is also the largest. It shows a wide variety of classics, travel documentaries, arthouse films, action movies and comedies.

Quarter of an hour before the movie starts, there’s a pre-film performance featuring young musicians, comedians or slam poets. On some evenings, the Sommerkino also hosts literature, musical and theatre performances.

Admission 7pm, 9.50 euros, Rheinauhafen, Harry-Blum-Platz 1, 50678 Cologne

Popcorn and beer: the open-air cinema at Cinenova in Ehrenfeld

Cinenova Freiluftkino
Plenty of table space for a cool drink and a snack from the bar Photo: PJK

Cinenova, the city’s largest arthouse cinema, is located in a former parcel depot in the multicultural, working-class district of Ehrenfeld. In the summer, they transform the beer garden into an open-air cinema, showing a combination of films with high artistic value and more mainstream films, many in the original language (with German subtitles).

One of the many highlights Cinenova offers is live satellite broadcasts of opera performances from Paris and London.

A cool beer from the bar, some freshly made popcorn (salted or sweet) and the show can start! If you want to get a good seat, make sure you get there before 9pm. The staff will show you to your seat.

Showings start at 9.45pm, 8.50 euros, Herbrandstraße 11, 50825 Cologne

Quirky charm: the open-air cinema at the Odonien beer garden

The “Free State of Odonien” is lots of things – including an open-air cinema Photo: Erik Rosenberg

Bizarre steel sculptures, huge and rusty, are scattered across this huge space, floating above the ground or emerging from it. The “Free State of Odonien” is a fusion of art forms, conceived by Cologne sculptor Odo Rumpf.

Nestling between decommissioned rail tracks and an “eros centre”, the site serves as an outdoor studio, workshop, event venue, centre for cultural exchange and a place for free artistic development. In the summer, a wide range of movie lovers’ favourites and future cult films from the Film-Festival Cologne are shown in the spectacular beer garden.

Admission 8.30pm, 8 euros, Hornstr. 85, 50823 Cologne

US-style: Autokino Köln-Porz drive-in cinema

Autokino Köln
“Big-screen viewing” through the windscreen Photo: Autokino Köln

Ironically, a lot of people have only ever seen a drive-in cinema at the movies. But it’s an institution that offers many benefits. At Autokino Köln-Porz, you can watch the film from the dry comfort of your car seat whatever the weather, make as much noise as you want with the popcorn bag, have a kiss and a cuddle or talk along with your favourite dialogues without annoying the rest of the audience!

The screen is 15 by 36 metres large and you really do get an unobstructed view from every spot. The sound is transmitted in stereo to your car radio on 90.5 Mhz. If it doesn’t work, no need to worry: you can borrow a mobile radio from the snack bar.

The programme changes every week and features blockbusters and cult films in German, from “Grease” to “Blues Brothers”.

Showings start at 10pm, 11 euros, Rudolf-Diesel-Str. 36, 51149 Cologne

The full cultural experience: cinema and (in June and July) open-air screenings at the Museum of Applied Arts (MAKK)

On the first Thursday of June and July, culture aficionados can round off their visit to Cologne’s Museum of Applied Arts (MAKK) with a film screening in the museum’s charming historic courtyard.

MAKK shows little-known films from around the world, including thought-provoking screen adaptations, profiles, documentaries and art movies. All the films are shown in the original language with German subtitles.

There’s no need to worry about showers or storms either. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, the cinematic experience moves to the Filmpalette arthouse cinema. And there are films on at MAKK on the first Thursday of the other months too so, if you’re a fan of film both outdoors and in, you’ll find something to keep you entertained all year round.

Admission 8.30pm, 8 euros, An der Rechtschule, 50667 Cologne

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