Under a starry night sky

Bring your lawn chair or blanket and settle in for a night of movies under the stars. Free outdoor films are back and, this year, features more than ever.

The films, a partnership between the Barrie Film Festival (BFF) and Lawn Chair Luminata, will be shown this year in a new gathering space called Meridian Place in downtown Barrie.

“The BIA (Downtown Barrie Business Association) has expanded Lawn Chair Luminata so we are doing film screenings every Wednesday in July and August in conjunction with the new Meridian Place,” said Barrie Film Festival director Claudine Benoit. “What I like about it is it’s consistent (with) rain dates for the following day – Thursday. They still have the car show at Heritage Park.”

Lawn Chair Luminata is a BIA initiative that has featured a variety of arts and entertainment and activities during summer evenings at the waterfront and downtown core. Annual events include a classic car show, in conjunction with Barrie Thunder Classics car club, performances by Barrie street performers and the free outdoor films.

The outdoor film series is one of a number of different programs that fall under the BFF umbrella. It has grown from an initial trial in the summer of 2007 to seven films and now, this year, every week. Locations have changed, from Heritage Park to Memorial Square to Centennial Beach. This year, the film event will move to the new urban square at the base of Owen Street in downtown Barrie.

Over the past 10 years, the films have attracted anywhere from 150 people to 2,000 depending on the film and the weather. One of the largest audience draws was The Hunger Games.

All films are shown on a 25-foot inflatable screen. For the complete movie experience, popcorn is also for sale at the site.

This year, a mix of films for younger audiences and older kids will be featured. Ratings are posted – parents are advised to check barriefilmfestival.ca as some movies may not be appropriate for younger or sensitive viewers.

The season is expected to include a combination of older films such as Disney and current ones ranging from animation to live action. Highlights include Disney’s new animation film Coco and Elf – the latter will be shown at a new Christmas in July event on July 25. One of the most popular film evenings over the years is the August night when the Barrie firefighters bring their fire trucks and mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog, and fire safety activities. This year, there will be a fire-related video prior to the feature.

The BFF starts screening outdoor films at Celebrate Barrie June 2 with Back to the Future at Centennial Beach – visit https://barriefilmfestival.ca/programs/outdoor-films for updates. The rest run throughout the summer months.

The BFF also rents out its services and screen as a fundraiser. As such, look for films to be shown this summer at the Innisfil Public library. Visit innisfil.library.on.ca for locations, dates and movies.

In addition, Park Place in south Barrie will also be showing free films in one of the parking lots. Visit parkplacebarrie.com for details.

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