What to bring to the Moonlight Cinema

Ah, summer.

I have a love-hate relationship with summer. I love summer because I can wear dresses with Havaianas without (much) fear of freezing (I live in Melbourne after all). I don’t like summer so much when it’s 41 degrees out and I feel like a helpless piece of poultry in a fan-forced oven.

But summer is also the time to go outdoors – frolick in the ocean, sit in the park, or kick back and watch a movie under the stars.

I’ve been the the moonlight cinema at the Royal Botanical Gardens for the last three years. The first year, I was late by 15mins, sat next to a tree, the dialogue of New York, I Love You was incredibly muffled and worst of all, I brought with me a mere piece of newspaper to sit on while patrons all around were clinking wine glasses and enjoying gourmet picnic baskets.

The grass was damp, the temperature quickly plummeted to 14 degrees and I was clad in a thin cardigan. The piece of newspaper I sat on quickly became wet and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Oh, did I mention it was Valentines’ Day and I was surrounded by couples? Overall, not a pleasant experience at all and I vowed I’d never be back. But I relented.

Last year, I thought I’d be smarter. I took with me a throw, packed a sandwich and a bottle of water in my bag, and brought a jumper with me. My friends and I got there at about 7.30pm, snagged a pretty good spot, and got comfortable. That’s when I realised everyone around me had brought along a pillow, bolster, or the like.

In 2012, I caught The Vow at the Royal Botanical Gardens. The Melbourne weather lived up to its name and after sunset, it was a not-so-comfortable 10 degrees, with a constant breeze throughout. The jumper I packed with me proved to be useless. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams looked great onscreen but all I could think about was my bed.

This year, I decided a plan was needed. First up, rug/throw. Second, pillow/bolster/something huggable.

Then, the menu. No more measly sandwiches in a ziploc bag, but no messy dishes either.

This was what I came up with…

Picnic for three at the Moonlight Cinema.

Not bad, hey. Considering my paltry attempts from the last few years. Here’s what I prepared:

  • Vegetable sticks with dill+yoghurt dip
  • Ham, cheese and egg sandwiches
  • Cheese (Cheddar and Red Leicester, a new favourite of mine)
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Coles Organic Popcorn

One of my friends made vegetable fritters, too.

So here’s my advice on what to bring to the moonlight cinema. I finally learned my lesson after two years, and I hope you don’t rock up to the Royal Botanic Gardens with nothing in hand, just as I did in 2010.

1. Bring a rug/blanket/mat/low chair/sleeping bag to sit on. Sometimes, the grass there is rather damp – and damp grass is not fun to sit on. Also, bring along something to hug!

2. Dress comfortably. And warmly, unless it’s a boiling day. But we do live in Melbourne after all, where four seasons in one day is perfectly normal. So bring a jumper or blanket just in case!

3. Food is essential. I chose not to pack wine/sparkling juice or anything fancy with me, but many people did! Some even brought eskys – kudos to them. I’d recommend anything real easy to eat with your fingers, especially since you won’t be able to see much once the sun sets and the movie begins.

4. Plastic bags to store your rubbish. We don’t want to destroy the Royal Botanic Gardens with trash now, do we? (:

Fun summer times!
Fun summer times! Photo: Charles J Tan

My friends and I had a great time. Hitchcock wasn’t a particularly great movie, but the company made it awesome.

Have you been to the moonlight cinema? What was your experience like?


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