Ballarat Movie Garden

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Ballarat Movie Garden

There’s something so comforting about settling in for the night, popcorn in hand, as the credits begin for what’s set to be a great film. The Movie Garden in Ballarat is all about this experience, and has added a few extra in for good measure, with No Lights No Lycra dance nights held at the venue and vintage arcade games for a different kind of entertainment. We spoke with one of the organisers Beth Lamont on how the event came to be, her favourite movie picks and the cinema experience in general.

Hi Beth, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?

Hi! I’m great, and very busy, planning for the two big events I have on in July – the 3rd birthday show of the monthly comedy night I run – BallaRatCat Comedy, and also, this fun cinema event – Movie Garden!

First things first, how did the idea for Movie Garden come about?

It came from a love of outdoor cinema, and an acceptance of the Ballarat climate. Why not bring the best elements of outdoor movie-going indoors? We have soft, cushion-y fake grass and big, comfy beanbags, plus we don’t have to wait for the sun to go down, or be worried about rain, insects or chilly winds! It’s also a great way for kids to join in too – it can be tricky for little ones to stay up late enough for outdoor cinema in summer. We’re showing family films in the afternoons, so no worries there!

Had you experienced many outdoor/indoor cinemas before making your own?

Quite a few, and I always love the relaxed, fun atmosphere you get at these events – which is something we try to foster at ours too. We’ve also had our eye on cinema trends here and overseas, and there are plenty of new ideas around watching a movie, and heaps of ways to make it more of an experience. In some cases, organisers will use the movie as inspiration for a larger event, such as watching Romeo & Juliet in a old church with a live choir, or running away from actors dressed as zombies after watching 28 Days Later. Is Ballarat ready for that kind of thing? Maybe soon!

How did it come about to get No Lights No Lycra involved?

I just adore going to NLNL as often as I can. It’s such a great way to let loose, de-stress and lose yourself in the music for an hour. It’s on every second Monday in Ballarat and was scheduled for the Monday that Movie Garden is on. Basically I just wanted to bring it in so I could have a dance to movie soundtracks on the grass, in the dark, with no shoes on. It’s so much fun – everyone should come and join me! Come give it a go if you’ve never tried it before! It’s $5 on the door and is at 8pm, Monday July 4th. More info at

Naturally choosing a movie at home can be a difficult task, how do the team sit down and pick the films for the season?

For our first season, I asked a lot of people for suggestions and ended up with a thousand different ideas. I guess there’s no one right answer, so I decided a dictatorship might be a better approach. I took cues from my own collection, and other outdoor cinemas. I’ve programmed movies which are fun to re-watch, and enjoy with friends, or, for the afternoon movies, with your kids!

What’s your ideal movie for a night in?

My kids are six and eight, and we love a good family movie night. I’m trying to show them all the classics I grew up with in the ’80s and ’90s, but there’s also a lot of Disney, Dreamworks and Marvel going on. We’re also a family of Miyazaki lovers, and there’s not much better than spending a lazy afternoon with Ponyo, Totoro or Kiki.

You also manage the BallaRatCat Comedy nights, are there any other fun events you’d like to see happen in Ballarat?

Yeah, the more the better I think. Locals have really taken to having a regular monthly comedy show, and I think that the other venues around town – band rooms and theatres – are also doing really well, with some very talented local performers around too. The live entertainment scene is bound to grow and expand along with the food and bar scene, so there’s lots of exciting things that could happen. There’s also plenty of great spaces in the CBD just waiting to be activated!

What do you love about the town/what makes Ballarat unique?

It’s such a picturesque place to live and work, especially the CBD with all the well-kept heritage buildings, but it’s the community that really makes it what it is. Everyone is so passionate about Ballarat and contributing to its success, it’s a great place to collaborate and work together with others in various industries. I like to think we’re retaining our small-town values, even as we grow into a large city.

What would you suggest to be the night’s itinerary for someone wanting to head to Movie Garden (where to eat, have dessert etc)?

Well, we’re located in Housey Housey, on Armstrong Street (next door to The Forge Pizzeria) and just across the road from the pop-up ice skating rink. So, it could be fun to have a skate-session and then rest your weary limbs on a beanbag and watch a movie! I’d suggest parking outside of the CBD and catching the free city circle bus in, and then you can relax and enjoy! The incredible team at The Forge will be offering food and drinks direct to your beanbag throughout the movie, so that takes care of lunch/dinner! So, you know, just Ballarat’s best pizza, plus freshly-made donuts (some with Nutella in them) and brownies, and hot drinks… and the bar is open in the evenings too… oh, and popcorn! So much goodness, all in one spot. Ooh, and we have vintage arcade games too!

Thanks again for the chat, any last words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers with?

Fresh. Nutella. Donuts.

Also, if you want to find out more info, get your tickets online, or maybe enquire about hiring Movie Garden for a private event or festival – check out!

Upcoming Sessions: Labyrinth 2.30pm, July 3; Moulin Rouge 8.30pm, July 3; the Wizard of Oz 2.30pm, July 4; Jumanji 2.30pm, July 5; Inception 8.30pm, July 5; Fantastic Mr.Fox 2.30pm, July 6; Beetlejuice 8.30pm, July 6.