After almost a decade of re-defining the cinema experience in London, Backyard Cinema has finally found its way to the North, recently opening its first Manchester venue. The venue sits on the roof of Depot Mayfield, sandwiched between Warehouse Project and Escape to Freight Island: yet another canny use of Manchester’s historic railway station.
The immersive cinema experience was originally founded in London by friends showing films in their back gardens and has since screened to over half a million film fans. Having taken over venues in Camden and Wandsworth, Manchester is next on the list for the project’s expansion. We took a trip to the city’s newest cinema experience and are here to give you all the details.
Firstly, Backyard Cinema understands comfort. They’ve traded your standard cinema seats for 330 comfy, bean-bag-like ones. The cinema’s projector is visible as you walk in, giving the room a nostalgic feel. Blending the new with the old seems to be the defining feature of Backyard Cinema: the lights, film sets, and modern comforts are combined with features of an old railway platform, exposed brick, and industrial aesthetic. All of this makes for a truly unique cinematic experience, one that is uncompromising in its celebration of the wonder of movie-watching.
But before visitors have even stepped foot in the main cinema room, there are a host of treats on offer. Backyard’s main bar, The Waiting Room, has a huge selection of drinks to choose from. Fancying an Aperol whilst watching Harry Potter? They’ve got you sorted. The Waiting Room is also kitted out with a bespoke pizza oven, a welcome alternative to your typical popcorn machine.
Outside in the courtyard, the venue boasts two delicious food stalls, serving everything from dirty-loaded fries and doughnuts, to fried chicken and soft-serve ice cream. There is a fire pit in the centre of the garden area, perfuming the outside with a bonfire smell. Picnic-style benches line the heated mezzanine, making for a comfortable (and warm) outside dining experience.
As if this wasn’t magical enough, Backyard Cinema has its very own in-build movie-grade sets, ensuring your walk to the main cinema room won’t be one you’ll quickly forget. Visitors are invited first to step into Dr Portelli’s Curiosity Shop, stocked with magic potions, curious books, and quill feather pens. What first appears to be an antique shop, soon transforms into a portal into other worlds, with a Narnia-style wardrobe leading to even more doors and passages. Having navigated their way through secret doors and themed tunnels, visitors can take their seats in the main cinema room – The Lost Theatre.
The experience is made to feel as exuberant as possible, with servers on hand to bring guests seasonal cocktails, sweet treats, and popcorn. Your day won’t stop at the closing credits of the film, however, with the outdoor seating area offering three pop-up style food stalls alongside its larger Waiting Room bar.
If you’re wanting to take your very own seat in The Lost Theatre, Backyard Cinema is now open for a limited time run until January 2nd, with a great range of classic films on offer. Fan-favourite screenings include Die Hard, Hocus Pocus, E.T., and Beauty and the Beast, whilst current blockbusters such as ELVIS and Top Gun: Maverick will also be shown.
As we move closer to the festive period, Backyard Cinema is fully getting into the Christmas spirit with holiday screenings from Wednesday 16th November. Films available to book include Elf, Home Alone, Love Actually, and The Muppet Christmas Carol, making it the perfect winter day out. Tickets start at £10 for children and £20 for adults.