Chicago’s Open-Air Cinema: Rooftop Flicks Under the Stars

As summer’s warmth paints Chicago gold, the city pulsates with vibrant energy. And what better way to soak it all in than by catching a movie under the starlit sky? Forget stuffy theaters, embrace the open air, and join the growing trend of outdoor rooftop movie screenings in Chicago! Here are some of the top spots to grab a blanket, sip on a cool drink, and enjoy a cinematic adventure under the twinkling canopy above:

1. Rooftop Cinema Club (Fulton Market & West Loop): This trendy spot offers stunning skyline views while you settle into comfy deck chairs and savor cinematic classics, cult favorites, and new releases. From curated themed nights to themed cocktails and delicious bites, Rooftop Cinema Club elevates the movie experience to a full-blown summer soirée.

2. Navy Pier’s Water Flicks: Nestled right on the iconic Navy Pier, Water Flicks boasts a giant screen and a sprawling lawn, inviting families and friends to gather for free movie screenings. Pack a picnic, spread out a blanket, and enjoy the cool lake breeze while iconic Chicago landmarks illuminate the backdrop.

3. Time Out Market Chicago: Craving a diverse culinary experience before your movie? Look no further than Time Out Market Chicago! After savoring your fill from their global food stalls, head to the rooftop terrace for open-air screenings amidst the city’s buzzing energy.

4. The Emily Hotel – Rooftop Cinema Club: Perched atop The Emily Hotel in the heart of West Loop, this intimate rooftop oasis offers stunning sunset views and a curated selection of films. Think cozy lounge chairs, themed drinks, and a sophisticated atmosphere for a truly special cinematic escape.

5. Millennium Park Film Series: Every summer, Millennium Park transforms into an open-air cinema, showcasing a diverse range of independent and international films on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion’s iconic bean-shaped screen. Pack a picnic, gather with friends, and let the art of film wash over you amidst the park’s lush greenery.

6. Gallagher Way: Nestled in the heart of Wrigleyville, Gallagher Way offers a unique rooftop cinema experience within a bustling entertainment district. Catch a classic movie on the big screen while surrounded by vibrant bars and restaurants, creating a lively atmosphere perfect for a night out with friends.

Image of Gallagher Way rooftop movie screen in Chicago

7. The J. Parker: Perched atop Hotel Lincoln in Lincoln Park, The J. Parker’s rooftop terrace offers stunning city views and a cozy ambiance for intimate movie screenings. Enjoy classic cocktails and light bites as you settle in for a romantic evening under the stars.

Image of J. Parker rooftop movie screen in Chicago

8. The Rooftop at The Robey: Located in Wicker Park, The Robey’s rooftop boasts a vibrant atmosphere with panoramic skyline views. Catch a rooftop movie while enjoying craft cocktails and eclectic bites, making for a memorable night out in one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods.

Image of Rooftop at The Robey movie screen in Chicago

9. The Pool at The Virgin Hotel: This stylish rooftop pool transforms into an open-air cinema during the summer, offering a refreshing and immersive movie experience. Lounge on poolside daybeds, sip on refreshing cocktails, and enjoy a splash of cinematic fun in a chic setting.

Image of Pool at The Virgin Hotel movie screen in Chicago

10. Music Box Theatre’s Movies on the Rooftop: The iconic Music Box Theatre, known for its eclectic film programming, also hosts rooftop movie screenings during the summer. Enjoy cult classics, indie gems, and special events under the stars, accompanied by the theatre’s signature popcorn and drinks.

Image of Music Box Theatre's Movies on the Rooftop in Chicago

Additional Tips for a Stellar Rooftop Cinema Experience:

  • Check schedules and book tickets in advance: Popular screenings often sell out, so plan ahead to secure your spot.
  • Pack layers: As the sun sets, temperatures can drop, so bring a sweater or blanket for comfort.
  • Bring snacks or check food and drink options: Some venues allow outside snacks, while others offer their own menus. Check beforehand to avoid surprises.
  • Arrive early: Settle in, grab a drink, and enjoy the pre-show atmosphere.
  • Respect others and the space: Keep noise levels down, avoid using phones during the movie, and clean up after yourself.
  • Embrace the elements: Summer nights can bring unexpected weather, so be prepared for a little wind or rain—it might even add to the adventure!

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