Mid-September my boyfriend and I went to an open air cinema at Knole. I saw the event advertised on a number of occasions and finally decided to book it. My anxiety tends to prevent us from doing anything new and so I thought I would take the plunge and book the tickets. It was also the Saturday after my boyfriend’s birthday and so I thought it could be a nice little belated birthday evening out.
The only film available to book was Cinderella and so I went ahead and booked the tickets.
On the day of the event everything inside of me wanted to cancel and stay at home. I was really anxious to do something different and outside of my comfort zone. On top of this I had a sinus infection and a lovely rash had come up around my mouth. I was feeling incredibly sorry for myself and wanted to give in to my anxiety.
However, the fact that I had already paid for the tickets made me determined to go. I reasoned with myself that if I felt unwell we would just leave – at least we would have given it a go. In addition to this it was my boyfriend’s birthday treat and so I wanted to make the effort.
Thankfully, when I was younger I spent a number of summers working at an outdoor theatre and so I know how cold it gets of an evening. I grabbed my warmest (faux) fur-lined leggings, a roll neck long-sleeve top, my padded jacket and I also brought my big winter coat along too. My little socks were swapped for thick ones just after I took this picture. I can honestly say that I was so grateful that I wrapped up so warm! As soon as the sun set the temperature dropped dramatically.
20 minutes into the film and we were both rather cold so we decided to treat ourselves to a hot drink which helped hugely! The drinks were rather pricey though and so next time it might be an idea to bring a flask along.
Refreshments were available to buy, however we decided to stop off at Tesco and pick up some snacks of our choice. We got some sweet and salty popcorn, peanut M&Ms and some Minsterels – I’m ashamed to say that they were all eaten by the end of the night. My boyfriend opted for a drink, however I decided to stick to water. I knew that my anxiety would convince me I needed a wee throughout the film so the last thing I needed was to drink lots too.
I grabbed a blanket during our IKEA trip and so I packed this with us to keep us warm. I was so grateful to have this blanket with me as without it I think my legs would have been incredibly cold!
The film started at 7:30pm, however the gates opened an hour earlier. We decided to aim to get there for around 7pm. I was eager not to get there too early as I knew the longer we were sat waiting the more chance there was that I would back out and go home.
Once we arrived we found a spot at the back so that if I needed to leave we could do so without getting in anyone’s way. The atmosphere was very relaxed and there were lots of families around. The calmness around me helped me to relax and although the half an hour before the film started dragged, I didn’t get too anxious.
As someone who has worked at an outdoor theatre I found the set-up here a little amateur, however it helped with the relaxed atmosphere and therefore made me feel calmer. The screen was rather small and the sound wasn’t amazing, however the setting made up for it.
We brought our own fold-up chairs and were seated in the courtyard of one of the most historical buildings in England. As the night grew darker and Cinderella played in the background it all felt incredibly magical and surreal as the stars twinkled above our heads.
The sunset was beautiful, the night was magical and we had a lovely evening out. If you’re looking for something new to do next summer then I would highly recommend an outdoor theatre/cinema. For someone who suffers from anxiety the set-up was laid back and helped to keep me calm.
I believe that somewhere nearby does a drive-in cinema at Christmas and so I’m going to be on the look out for tickets.
If you try an outdoor cinema/theatre don’t forget to wrap up warm!