Did you know that Cheltenham has an Amphitheatre? It might only be small, but it's home to outdoor events and this year, a cinema under the stars. Based at Dean Close School, the Tuckwell Theatre offers an intimate cinema experience and Cheltenham Champion Susan Duncombe popped along to check it out...

There is something quintessentially English about a summer outdoor event, whether it’s a classical concert, a festival or watching a film as the sun goes down. It’s an excuse to gather up a few friends, dust off your picnic basket, grab a bottle of your favourite wine, find your chair-in-a-bag and pack clothing for all weathers; just in case. The weather though was not something that this year’s audience at Cinema Under the Stars held at the Tuckwell Amphitheatre had to worry about. For both ‘The Mercy’ shown on 25th July and the eternal favourite, ‘Dirty Dancing’ screened on the 1st August, the evening temperature was positively balmy.

The setting is magical; with strings of fairy lights guiding the way down the gravel path to the stone-built Amphitheatre. Surrounded by trees, there is a sense of having entered into a fairy grotto. The enchanted backdrop creates an ethereal feel to the evening whatever the film.

From about an hour before the screening is due to commence, groups of people start to gather on the tiered steps, chatting and sharing food, waiting for the light to fade sufficiently for the film to begin. The food of choice ranges from deli-picnics to take away fish and chips to an authentic wood-fired pizza from the visiting Old Dough Hook Pizza Company; freshly prepared to order in the purpose-built kitchen in the back of their lovingly restored 45-year old Citroen H van.

Silence falls as the title credits roll and everyone settles back into their chairs ready to be entertained for an hour or so. Some come because of the film choice, but many come because of the wonderful setting and the social occasion; an annual event not to be missed. So, if you are planning a trip to Cheltenham next summer, why not check out the schedule for Cinema Under the Stars and the open-air theatre performances held at the Tuckwell Amphitheatre. Don’t forget to bring a chair and a blanket, just in case!

This article was brought to you by Cheltenham Champion Susan Duncombe from Secret Concierge.

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