No picnics allowed at Holywells Park film screenings

Holywells park family fun day Sam, Adam, Erin and Robyn - when picnics were allowed

Holywells park family fun day Sam, Adam, Erin and Robyn - when picnics were allowed

Film lovers attending a series of outdoor cinema events in Suffolk this week are invited to bring their camping chairs and rugs to enjoy the occasion – but they will have to leave the sandwiches at home.

Families preparing to attend film screenings at Holywells Park, Ipswich, have vented their frustration after being told they will not be allowed picnics and will instead have to buy refreshments at the food stalls or drinks bar during the showings.

The no food policy has been implemented as part of the licensing of the events, which has been organised by the Pop Up Picture Company’s Great Outdoor Cinema.

Danny Banthorpe, co-founder of the Pop Up Picture company, which will play Grease, The Goonies and The Lost Boys from tomorrow until Saturday, defended the decision.

“It’s something that has been discussed at length,” he said. “The general feeling is that it is an Ipswich Borough Council event, and they do lots of free family events, but this is not a council event. We are hiring part of the park and working in conjunction with them.

“We have pizzas for £6 and gourmet burgers for £5, which is cheaper than festivals.”

In a poll on our websites, 82% of the 300 people asked believed that taking a picnic should be allowed, while just 34 people voted in favour of buying food at the event

Most Read

Mr Banthorpe revealed that 40% of the ticket price alone would be going to the license holders for the films themselves. He added: “We are a boutique cinema experience, and even though the films are 30 or 40 years old, they are still expensive to show.

“When you look at security and fencing and meeting budgets there’s not a lot of money left.”

A spokeswoman from Ipswich Borough Council, which operates the park, said: “The Great Cinema Club has hired part of Holywells Park for this series of events.

“As such, film goers need to follow the conditions of viewing placed by the Great Cinema Club including not bringing their own food and drink into the cinema zone.

“However, the council welcomes cinema goers picnicking in other areas of the park before the event.”

The company has insisted it is not far off ordinary pricing for indoor cinemas, and has offset food and drink costs with family offers on ticket prices. The price for adults for a showing is £12.50 and £6 for under 18s – it is free for under 5s.

However, each paying adult can have one under 18 accompany them for free.

The Great Outdoor Cinema also said it aims to help local firms, with all meat for the food being sourced from the nearby George Debman’s butcher shop and the event supporting St Elizabeth Hospice.

The screenings will still go ahead in the event of rain, with all viewers welcome to bring umbrellas and waterproofs, while free ponchos will also be handed out by event organisers in the event of wet weather.

• In a story about the Pop Up Picture Company’s Great Outdoor Cinema event in Holywells Park, Ipswich, printed in yesterday’s EADT, we omitted to mention that one under 18 is allowed free admission with each full paying adult. We are happy to clarify the situation. For full details of film showings and admissions policy, go to