Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Outdoor movie series light up nights with family-friendly flicks

Posted May 19, 2015
Updated May 20, 2015

The museum offers a mix of movies each summer outside. Courtesy: N.C. Museum of Art

It's the season for outdoor movies! Starting around now, lots of parks and other venues open up big spaces for evening movies.

When the movie is a family-friendly selection, these can be great fun for families. But, they do start late - typically after 8 p.m., once the sun sets. So they might not be the best activities for families with young kids who need an earlier bedtime.

In many cases, the gates open an hour or more before the movie begins so you can bring a picnic and sometimes enjoy some pre-show entertainment before you sink back into your lawn chair for a movie under the stars.

There are lots of outdoor movie options around here. I've written about a few of them. Some have started. Others will begin soon. Be sure to clink on the links to get more information about the full schedules and details. I'll be chatting about this on the WRAL-TV morning news on Fox 50 on Wednesday just after 8:30 a.m.

N.C. Museum of Art: The west Raleigh museum offers a very popular outdoor movie series in its park. Tickets to the movies are just $5. Kids 6 and under are free. Concessions are available, but you're welcome to bring your own picnic, along with chairs and blankets. The series starts May 30. Family-friendly options include "Frozen," the sing-along version, June 6; "How to Train Your Dragon 2, July 10; and "The Book of Life," Aug. 1, among others.

Koka Booth Amphitheatre's Movies by Moonlight: The series began earlier this month and is very popular with families. Picnics, blankets and chairs are welcome here. Tickets are $5 and kids under 12 get in for free. The series includes "How to Train Your Dragon 2," on July 11, and "Brave," on Aug. 15.

The Lumina Theatre outdoor series: The Chapel Hill theater shows outdoor movies on the green at Southern Village. Tickets are $5 per person. Blankets, chairs and picnics are welcome. The theater typically shows movies on Friday and Saturday evenings through September. The PG-rated "Cinderella," is May 22 and May 23. "Back to the Future," which is rated PG, is scheduled for June 6.

Raleigh Little Theatre outdoor movies: The Raleigh community theater will show movies in its outdoor amphitheater for four weekends this summer. They are free. Picnics, chairs and blankets are welcome. The schedule includes "Charlotte's Web," on July 19, and "Into the Woods," on Aug. 2.

Downtown Raleigh's movie series: The offerings in downtown Raleigh's City Plaza on Fayetteville Street, which begin this weekend, feature favorites from the 1980s. They include "Ghostbusters" on May 22; "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on May 26; "The Goonies" on June 5; "Back to the Future" on June 12: and "The Karate Kid" on June 19.

Friday Family Flicks and Camping at Garner's Lake Benson Park: The town offers two Friday evenings featuring an outdoor movie and camping at Lake Benson Park. The first was in May. The next is June 12. The movie is "SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water." It's free to see the movie. If you want to camp out that night as well, you'll need to register with the town. The fee to camp is $12 for Garner residents and $15 for everybody else.

Durham's Rock the Park series: The series offers a mix of outdoor concerts and movies. It's all free. Movies include "The Sandlot," on June 27, and "Rio 2" on Aug. 22, both at Durham Central Park.

Knightdale's outdoor movie night: Knightdale Station Park Amphitheater is hosting a series that's free. They include "The Princess Bride" on June 12 and "Night at the Museum" on July 17.

Chapel Hill's Movies Under the Stars: The free outdoor series in downtown Chapel Hill is on Thursday evenings. Movies include "Wall-E" on June 18; "Muppets in Space" on July 23; and "E.T." on Aug. 20.

Apex Music and Movie Series: Held at the new Apex Nature Park Amphitheatre, the series offers family-friendly concerts and movies. Most of the movies are rated either PG or PG-13. The PG-rated schedule includes "McFarland USA" on July 11; "Paddington" on Aug. 29; and "Big Hero 6" on Sept. 12. Picnics, chairs and blankets are welcome.

Benson's Movie Night: The town offers free movies on the first and third Friday of every month. Starting in April, they are held outside at the Downtown Singing Grove. For details, call 919-894-5117.

Hope Community Church: The church with multiple Triangle locations is offering two outdoor movies on May 29 - "The Lego Movie" at Womble Park in Holly Springs and "Big Hero 6" at Morrisville Community Park in Morrisville.

‚ÄčAnd if you're up for a drive, Henderson's Raleigh Road Outdoor Theater is an old-fashioned drive-in theater, one of six or so remaining in the state.

A couple to add to the list:

Southern Pines offers outdoor movies from April to June.

Nashville also offers a monthly series from June to October.


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  • Ben Sanders May 20, 2015
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    Why only point out the "family friendly" movies?

  • Roy Hinkley May 20, 2015
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    The author does indicate these are "family-friendly" movies which likely explains the exclusion of PG-13 and above.

  • Ben Sanders May 20, 2015
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    Did I complain at all about the activities themselves? No, and I already had many of these dates on my calendar before this was even posted. I do think the writer is doing a disservice by leaving out some great films and only focusing on kids movies, hence my comment.

  • Terry Watts May 20, 2015
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    Cheap (and even free) family entertainment... and yet you complain...

    How about this: don't go!

  • Ben Sanders May 20, 2015
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    Is it a requirement that moms can only watch PG and under movies? There's plenty of great films left off your list that are PG-13 and up. Almost Famous, Dazed and Confused, Selma, The Imitation Game, Whiplash, The Big Lebowski, etc.