Tuesday 23 October 2018

The Drive in Cinema at South Shields

* This is a collaboration with The Drive in Cinema

I'm not sure when my obsession with drive in cinemas first began. It may have been back in my childhood watching John Travolta crooning "Sandy" or perhaps it was the Girls Aloud video to The Promise, but at some moment in time I decided that I really wanted to watch a film from my car. At the weekend, thanks to the Drive In Cinema at South Shields that dream finally became a reality.

When I first told my husband that I wanted to go to the Drive in Cinema at South Shields, he rolled his eyes and retorted "why would you want to go and watch a film in your car?"  Despite being a huge fan of movies, it seems the novelty of watching movies in weird and wonderful places doesn't appeal to him as much as it does to me. He reluctantly agreed, requesting that we go and see "Batman Returns", which I, of course, ignored and promptly organised us tickets for classic flick Grease.

The Drive in Cinema at South Shields

The Drive in Cinema at Bents Park in South Shields opened at the weekend with Back to the Future and will finish its three week run with a repeat showing of Grease. Films are showing every night and there really is a film for every taste, from classics like The Goonies, to recent blockbusters like The Greatest Showman with a few festive and Halloween inspired films thrown in for good measure.

Prices for The Drive in Cinema are £27.00 per car (up to 7 occupants) or £32.00 for VIP which guarantees you a space in the first two rows right in front of the screen. Spaces are first come first served and with the park opening two hours before show time it's best to get there as soon as you can for the best spot. Parking positions are allocated by the stewards who guide you to an available spot depending on the size of your vehicle.

Drive in Cinema at South Shields

We got ourselves to Bents Park around 15 minutes after the gates had opened, half expecting a queue to get in so we were thrilled to find no traffic and an easy journey into the park where we were directed round to the screen and shown where to park by a steward. Waving our VIP token we were early enough for a prime spot on the front row directly by the screen. The steward helpfully checked we were happy with our view of the screen before taping up our front lights (vehicles with Daylight Running Lights have them covered during the film)

Once we were shown to our space we decided to go for a wander before show time. If you want to go for the full Drive In Cinema experience you can grab yourself some scran from the food stalls in the park who serve up burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, waffles, crepes and drinks. After a quick walk along the seafront we made our way to the food trucks for some food. We didn't think the food prices were too bad, a tray of chips will set you back £2.50 with a large popcorn £3.50 and combo meals on offer for extra savings. Of course we opted for cinema classics, a Cheese Dog for me (£4.00) and a Hotdog for Simon (£3.50).

Drive in Cinema at South Shields  - Hotdog
We made our way back to the car in plenty of time for the 6:45 pm show time and got ourselves snuggled up in the car. Despite it having been a pretty warm Autumn day in the North East we were fully prepared for a cold evening just in case and our back seat was covered in hats, gloves and blankets (Simon had to stop me bringing our duvet with me!) - and we didn't need any of them! We were more than comfortable wearing our coats over jumpers and I wasn't even a little cold.

Following the instructions on the screen we tuned our radio into the FM frequency so we could get the film audio into our car. Having never done something like this before I wasn't sure how well it would work and if the sound would be good quality so I was really surprised when our radio easily tuned in and the film came through our speakers crystal clear.

One of the things I was wondering about before we went to the Drive in Cinema was if you are turning up in a car packed out with people can the passengers in the back seat actually see the screen? So I decided to hop into the back of our car for a look and  unfortunately the answer is no! Unless I was sat at a pretty awkward angle and practically lying across the back seat, there was no way I could see the screen comfortably. So to really enjoy the experience I recommend people only sit in the front of the car.

Drive in Cinema South Shields

I'm not sure how great the view is further back in the park. Our screening wasn't overly packed out with perhaps 6 rows of cars in total. When vehicles were turning up the stewards were definitely taking their time parking the cars with lots of distance behind the vehicles in front to maximise the view. Larger cars and people carriers were parked at the sides so that they didn't obstruct any views so I'm pretty confident that everyone in Bents Park could see the screen with on problems.

As the film began with that classic opening of Danny and Sandy at the end of their Summer romance I had the biggest grin on my face. It had been a while since I'd seen the movie and seeing such a classic at the Drive In Cinema felt pretty special.

Drive in Cinema

Watching a film just the two of us in our car gave us the freedom to fully enjoy the film without worrying about anyone else around us. We ate sweets, looked up facts about the movie (did you know that Elvis was originally asked to be Teen Angel?), discussed our favourite scenes and, of course, I used my bottle of coke as a microphone and belted out every song at full (very out of tune) volume. Simon was slightly bemused when I threw my "microphone" in his direction during the male parts and although he was having none of it he did enjoy his evening.

Our experience was over before we knew it and with departure of the site as effortless as arrival I was very impressed with the organisation of the Drive in Cinema. Everything ran so smoothly and the stewards in the park were so helpful - it's one of the best organised events we've ever attended.

I highly recommend a trip to the Drive in Cinema at South Shields if you want to do something really fun and different this Autumn.

We will definitely be booking ourselves tickets if they come back next year!

Drive in Cinema Shields

Find The Drive in Cinema until 4 November 2018 at:

Bents Park
Sea Road
South Shields
NE33 2LD


The Drive in Cinema very kindly gave us complimentary tickets with no requirement to write this blog post, however we loved it and wanted to share our experience!


  1. It sounds so fun! I ALWAYS wanted to go to a drive-in too. I definitely blame Grease for this! Would love to watch It's A Wonderful Life but I'm not sure of the logistics with the kids in the back - think I'm better off waiting for a time when Steve and I can leave the kids at home to try stuff like this ;-)

    You should definitely go back and watch Batman for Simon xx

    1. Yeah, unfortunately I don't think it'd work too well with three kids, especially when they're a bit older - it's a shame it's a struggle to see from the back seat! I definitely want to go back!

  2. Loved this - we went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately since we don't have a car at the moment we had to miss out, gutted is an understatement! I did not know that fact about Elvis. He would have been amazing at that part! Thanks for sharing, having experienced it myself I agree with all your tips. Melis x

    1. Can you imagine what it would have been like having Elvis in that role?! Amazing! Hopefully you'll have a car for next year x

  3. This sounds like such a fun experience! I always see these drive-in cinemas in old movies and always wondered how it'd be in real life, but I never knew we had them in the UK! I think Grease is such a perfect film to see in this kind of setting, too xx

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

    1. They're pretty hard to find but they do pop up every now and again! Keep your eyes open x

  4. I can't believe South Shields now has a drive in cinema. The north east is becoming AMAZING! I really want to come back and live here again now x

    1. It's funny how things like that always happen when you move away, I feel like that about Norwich where I grew up, as soon as I left amazing places opened!

  5. We're going to this on Fri to see pulp fiction one thing I was wondering was did you keep your engine running for the radio I don't know how long my car can keep the radio on before draining the battery as I never really play the radio and sit in the car for long periods of time

    1. I was wondering this before we went too! Don't worry, it's absolutely fine! You get a leaflet when you arrive with little tips on how to make sure your battery doesn't drain .. enjoy! Hope you have a really lovely time!


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