Cinespia is probably one of the best kept secrets (or not so secret) events in Los Angeles. It is...a movie, at night, in a cemetery. Not just any cemetery, Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I say it's not so secret because it's been featured in everything from LA Magazine to the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. All of the press and it still has a neighborhood feel.
It's the 10th season of this wonderful summer event and it seems to get better with time. I'm not quite sure how it got started but it's definitely grown in popularity. We went this past Sunday and ran into a couple that has been coming every year since it started. They said that night was the largest crowd they've ever seen by far. It could have been that it was the Sunday before Memorial Day or because Young Frankenstein was playing but it was packed. We arrived an hour before the gates were supposed to open and there were already ~200 people there. They roped off rows for people to wait in on the grass so groups were picnicking and drinking wine while waiting. We were in the last row of grass, everyone behind us had to wait on the sidewalk so we were lucky. We put our blankets down, popped open a bottle of wine and started snacking. It was a fairly warm day and the sun was just beginning to set. It was great to spend time people watching and enjoying the night. We bought tickets online ahead of time so we were guaranteed a spot for the movie. Apparently the ticketing use to be donation based at the gate but now it is recommended buying online where the only option is $10 (still cheaper than the movie theater.)
Around 7:00, when the gates were supposed to open, people started standing up. They started letting people in slowly but surely. It took about 45 min for us to actually get through the gate. We walked down the main path of the cemetery to find a very crowded grassy section with people sitting, facing the mausoleum. It looked like people had been there for quite awhile with tables set up and candles lit. We walked through sites to find a little area near the back of the main section but right in the center. We put down our blankets and set up our camp. We only had blankets so it was easy. We continued to eat and drink while the DJ played music. As it got darker it got much colder. Around 8:30 the movie started.
The picture and sound was great on the movie. We had to reposition ourselves quite often because it's hard sitting on the ground for so long. I even ended up laying down and falling asleep for a bit towards the end. When the movie finished it was pretty cold by that point. Everyone headed out, in the dark following the person in front of them.
If you go (which you should!) here are some tips!
1) Get there early
2) Bring low sitting chairs
3) Bring warm blankets, it gets cold at night
4) Make a fancy picnic, some people had awesome looking meals, I was a bit jealous
5) Bring a flashlight, in case you need to go to the bathroom when it's dark
6) Don't pay for parking, park in the neighborhood and walk
7) Even better...ride your bike if you're close enough
8) Buy your tickets online, it will guarantee you a spot if you get there late
Movies are typically on Saturday nights, check the website for movies and start times.