The Galileo Open Air Cinema: review

? Venues: various sites in Cape Town and its winelands.

Oh what a night, at The Galileo Open Air Cinema on the lawns at The Battery Park, V&A Waterfront, under the stars, in beautiful Cape Town.

? Battery Park opened in November 2018 and it took The Galileo Open Air Cinema to get us to this city leisure park.  Tucked away behind the Waterfront Theatre School, with views of the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Lions Head, the heritage venue has a hectic history – which is a story on its own.

Battery Park is a perfect setting for open air cinema. Once again, we were impressed with the organisational skills by the Galileo team in setting up its large screen and providing everything one needs for an evening of open air cinema. Backrest chairs and blankets are available for hire – as part of ticket package or as extras. It is cheaper to buy a package online.

Great not to schlep gear to an outdoor event. A big issue at outdoor events is that people bring chairs which interrupt views – and camping gear in general. That invariably brings out heckling and disgruntlement. You can take your own chairs, but from what I could see, most people were using the Galileo’s very comfy backrests.

This is the 8th season of The Galileo Open Air Cinema and it has become a huge success. As may be seen from the cinema/travel advisory below, the venues are off-the-charts amazing. Never mind that one is attending an outdoor cinema event but each site is spectacular- from the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to the estates in the Cape Winelands. There are many child friendly films on the programme and families are very much encouraged at The Galileo.

When I was invited to the first season, I was dubious because of the vagaries of weather in Cape Town. What happens with rain and the famous South Easter?  No worries. Team Galileo has it all covered. If a screening is cancelled, one has the option of selecting another film on another date or getting a refund (within 7 days). In the city, there is an alternative indoor venue –the ZipZap Dome at Artscape.

When there is light drizzle screenings go ahead. In all the years of attending The Galileo, we have been lucky and the weather has been just fine. But if you are worried, call the helpline for assurance and get up-to-date info. From the start of the Galileo, I was chuffed to find that an actual person answered the phone – not a computer generated bot. Look, Capetonians are weather-wary. We freak out at the wind. Okay, when that South Easter is in full force, it is not fun. But, let’s get real, it is summer time. It is a beautiful city. Take a down jacket or two in case it gets chilly.  For the most part, Galileo locations are in protected spots, but it is wonderful to know that one can speak to a person to provide weather updates and you can ask exactly where the toilets are located and find out about parking, etc. It is not a service that many other outdoor festivals provide.

The Galileo Open Air Cinema has become an essential attraction to the Cape Town summer. It’s absolutely fabulous to watch films on the big screen in an outside setting, in beautiful locations. The season is brilliantly organised. There is no schlepping as everything is available on site: Back rest chairs, blankets, food and popcorn.

About The Battery Park lawn at the V&A Waterfront:

This urban leisure and park was established in November 2018 on the site of the Amsterdam Battery. This is a battery in an artillery sense – as a defence unit – not a battery in your phone. The Amsterdam Battery was built in 1787 by the Dutch, along the coast of Table Bay Harbour. It was built as a defensive wall/barrier in case the city was attacked from the sea or from the land. Projecting through the ramparts were the cannons. The Amsterdam Battery area was as big as the Castle of Good Hope. It was plonked in a strategic spot and later used as a prison. There were escapes and uprisings but that is another story.  In 1905, most of the battery was demolished to facilitate railway connections in the area. This prime real estate sat unused and then was repurposed as a leisure park in the city.

Parking:  below the park, at the Battery Park parking lot (1 206 parking bays). Waterfront rates apply – about R10 for two hours, January 2020. Access from Alfred Street. If you are exiting the N1, turn into the V&A Waterfront, proceed along Dock Road, then first left into Alfred Street and first right into the road that will take you to the entrance of the parking lot.

*Pic on this post – Battery Park. Pic supplied.

Battery Parkscreenings for the rest of 2020

· February 21 – Me Before You

· March 20 The Greatest Showman

· April 17 Titanic

Cinema ? /travel advisory

The Galileo Open Air Cinema is an annual event. See

Time: Doors open at 6pm weekdays; 5pm on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays. Movie starts after sunset. Posting this on January 27, 2020 and we are looking at a start time of about 8.15pm for adverts and trailers and an 8.30pm for feature. Call the helpline for info for the screening that you are attending. The number: 071 471 8728. This is an incredibly efficient helpline. Calls are answered by operators – not a computer generated bot. Directions will be given. You can ask about the weather and locations of toilets.

✔️ Tickets for the 2019/20 season:

✔️ Online prices: Rates range from R109 (ticket only) to R130 (ticket, backrest chair and blanket) to R195 VIP (ticket, backrest chair and blanket, reserved premium seating, popcorn, a Coke and Frey chocolate) and Snuggle R360 per couple (One mattress in front row, 2 blankets, 2 pillows and Frey chocolate box).

✔️ These are online prices. If you purchase your ticket on site (if not sold out), prices are- R130 for entry, R10 for a blanket and R20 for a backrest. No VIP or Snuggle tickets are available at venue.

Venues for the 2019/20 season:

Wednesdays and Thursdays– Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Newlands

Fridays: rotating venues – Battery Park, Central Park, Meerendal Wine Estate , Durbanville, Steenberg Wine EstaSaturdays – rotating venues in the Winelands – Stellenbosch, Paarl, Somerset West and Franschhoek. Do not BYO (bring your own) alcohol to the wine estates. Wine is for sale at venues. Bags may be checked

Family friendly screenings for rest of 2020:

Fri, March 20: The Greatest Showman, Battery Park

Wed, March 25:  The Wizard of Oz, Kirstenbosch Gardens

Thu, March 26: Trolls, Kirstenbosch Gardens

Fri, March 27: Moana, Steenberg Wine Farm

Sat, March 28, Beauty and The Beast, Simonsvlei Winery

Sun, April 12, Wonder Park, Meerendal Wine Estate