If there was one cultural industry that has thrived since the pandemic, it’s open air cinema.

And the secret of its success? While mainstream multiplexes were bolted shut in the lockdown, open air and drive-thru cinemas were able to flourish thanks the nature of them being held in the outdoors, with plenty of space to social distance.

But even before the pandemic struck, outdoor cinema screenings were rising in popularity across the nation. Packed out showings have been held in parks, on rooftops, on beaches and even in palace grounds.

And even though traditional cinemas have re-opened – albeit with fewer films to show due to a lack of film production during the lockdown – across south Essex several upcoming al fresco cinema screenings are sure to entice audiences.

RHS Hyde Hall in Rettendon near Wickford is set to open its glorious gardens up to The Luna Cinema in September.

Movie buffs can take along their picnic blankets and chairs and watch Grease, Sing-a-long the Greatest Showman and Joker, all throughout September – for £15.50 per ticket. The venue will even host a bar where alcohol and snacks can be bought.

Meanwhile, Hangar 5 at Southend Airport – home to the Vulcan XL426 aircraft – is set to host an even more atmospheric movie night.

The venue will be showing the 1969 film “The Battle of Britain” featuring an all-star cast including Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer.

The film is notable for its spectacular flying sequences, much of which was filmed in the skies over south-east England.

The Vulcan will be powered on before the film starts so visitors can see its bomb doors open and close and its flying control surfaces move.

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This will be the third Secret Cinema at the Vulcan event. The first two were James Bond films – Goldfinger and then Thunderball. Both movies have some connection to the airport or to the Vulcan so visitors have an all round ‘experience’ rather than just turning up to watch a film.

Vulcan Secret Cinema events manager, Jamie Keene, from Shoebury, said: “Southend Airport was one of the airfields used by Royal Air Force Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, so the connection between the site and the film is an obvious one.

“The story of the Battle of Britain is a truly heroic one and we hope our film goers will relate to it even more knowing they are watching it at a place that played such a vital role in the Battle in 1940

“We will be showing the film inside our hangar at London Southend Airport – it’s a working aircraft hangar so hopefully that will also help those watching connect with the film.”

Organisers originally planned to show the film last year in what would have been the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Jamie added: “Unfortunately, the pandemic put paid to that, so we’re showing it a year late. If it’s good enough for the Euros and the Olympics, it’s good enough for us.

“We think people enjoy doing things that are a bit unusual and that explains the success of cinema events such as ours.

“You could watch the Battle of Britain on Netflix or buy the DVD and watch it at home. Both would be easier and probably more comfortable and cheaper, but it’s not much to talk about. But telling your friends you watched the Battle of Britain at a Battle of Britain airfield is something to talk about.

All proceeds from Secret Cinema events go towards the Vulcan Restoration Trust charity which owns and maintains the former RAF jet bomber, Vulcan XL426, based at Southend Airport.

It doesn’t fly but is one of only three Vulcans in the world kept in live condition, with all systems including its engines functioning.

Jamie added: “People also like the social aspect of watching a film with others. It’s a shared experience, rather than a solitary one, which is so often be the case when watching films at home.”

Secret Cinema at the Vulcan is on Saturday September 25 and tickets are on sale at www.avrovulcan.com, price £14 each.

For the Hyde Hall screenings visit thelunacinema.com