Cinespia Like a Local
What is Cinespia?
Cinespia is one of my favorite LA summer activities. It consists of movie screenings held outdoors under the stars on Fairbanks Lawn, an open grassy field inside Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Don't worry, you're not sitting on graves while having your outdoor movie experience. Instead, it's a chance to picnic and hang out with friends while a DJ spins music in the background as the sun sets before the movie begins. It's a fun way to pass a Saturday with friends or date night with someone special!
To help ensure a smooth and fun Cinespia experience, I've outlined a brief Q&A guide to help you PLAN, PACK, and PICNIC like a local!
A: Simple. Check out the Cinespia calendar online and buy your ticket(s) accordingly. It goes without saying, any cult-following or classically popular movies tend to sell out fast. Cinespia is a must for many locals in the summer, which means tickets sell out fast, so if you're keen to see something be sure to get tickets sooner rather than later. You don't want to be relying on questionable re-sale tickets from Facebook or Craigslist.
Need last minute tickets? I've seen a few ticket scalpers or people selling a ticket or two by the entrance gate the night-of, but no guarantee.
Always the first (and smart) question a true LA local will ask themselves before heading to their destination.
A: Street parking and on-site parking available. Personally, I prefer a ride-share like Lyft.
My advice is this: Make it easy for yourself, especially if you plan to drink. Not just that, but you're saving yourself the trouble of circling around to find parking only to find a spot 4 blocks away to then shlep your picnic, blankets, and crew to the entrance. Trust me. Keep it simple. If you're going to do this, do it right from the start.
Again, there is on-site parking available for purchase when you buy your movie tickets, so there are options for those considering driving. Just make sure you account for time to park. Basically, the on-site parking pass allows you to park on the cemetery grounds and walk directly to the lawn. The catch? On-site parking opens at gate time, so you may need to hustle to find lawn space after parking.
Q: What to bring?
A: My favorite part!
Definitely pack a picnic or bring food/snacks + drinks along. Yep! Outside food and drinks are allowed. Trust me, it's always best to come prepared. Cinespia calls for chilling in the open air, sipping wine with friends, snacking, and getting excited for the movie as the sun sets.
As for what to bring for the evening... take a couple of blankets, pillows, and an extra layer of clothing. The goal is to be comfortable while watching the film. The grass can get damp and cold, so a small tarp underneath your blanket is recommended.
If you want to know what NOT to bring, just check the FAQ page for Cinespia here.
Q: What to wear?
A: It can be little hit or miss when it comes to weather for Cinespia. On a warm summer's night, you're probably fine with just a light jacket or sweater, but on a cooler night you'll be glad you brought something warmer. I also prefer to wear jeans because it's just easier and more comfortable for me. Ideally, you've packed some extra blankets to keep you warm.
Q: Food/Drink Suggestions?
A: Easy, I've listed all my must haves below. Hope these help!
Picnic basket or cooler for all your goodies
Wipes (I hate having sticky fingers!), napkins, a cutting knife + board, a bottle opener (if needed)
Cups + Plates (preferably compostable/recyclable)
Wine, Beer - Think Trader Joe's wine cans. Easy peasy!
Cheese, sliced meats, crackers - Trader Joe's is handy for this, especially the pre cut items.
Chips, veggies, and dips - Baby carrots with roasted tomato hummus are my go-to, but pick your own favorites
Popcorn, chocolates, fruits, and treats, oh my!
Water bottles or cans of La Croix - Gotta stay hydrated!
A plastic bag to collect your rubbish or cans - "You are what you don't pick up"
Ideally, you bring just enough that you're able to consume most of it at Cinespia and don't have to bring it all back home with you. Depending on your size group and how much you like to snack or eat, it's worth packing a cooler. Remember, you'll have plenty of time to kill while waiting in line before the gates open to enter the grounds, so typically people will be sipping, snacking, and hanging out hours ahead of the screening. Once the gate opens and you've rushed to pick your spot on the lawn, I suggest people watching for those bringing their Cinespia picnic A game - like the group of men who had a low lying table, moroccan style pillows and throws, cocktail shaker, and legit charcuterie spread when I was there last. They were not messing around, and boy did I want to crash that Cinespia picnic! That said, sometimes it's just easier to keep your picnic game simple, and I've had just as much fun!
Alternatively, if you're not keen on packing your own picnic. You can always place a pick-up order ahead of time and grab your food/snacks and drinks to go. Here are a couple of my local favorites that make for a great grab-and-go Cinespia picnic for those of short on time:
Mendocino Farms (Fairfax/Beverly, other locations)
Sycamore Kitchen (Mid-City)
Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits, and Cheese (Larchmont) - Love their sandwiches!
Tere's Mexican Grill (Hollywood)
However you decide to plan, pack, and picnic your way into Cinespia, it's a must.
It's truly the perfect way to spend a Saturday like a local and experience an outdoor movie under the stars and palm trees of Los Angeles!
CINESPIA ESSENTIALS CHECK-LIST BELOW