Ideal for film buffs looking for somewhere special for their next night out.

An integral part of artistic and social comminutes, independent cinemas have been putting people over profit in the film world for decades now. Charming punters with design quirks, discounts and discussion, we just love this country’s film scene at grassroots level, and nowhere offers a better place to celebrate it than here; at these 5 independent UK cinemas you just have to visit, IDEAL for film buffs looking for somewhere special for their next night out. 

ILKLEY CINEMA, ILKLEY

Ilkey Cinema lies within the ward of Bradford, which is the World’s first UNESCO City of Film – a permanent title bestowed on the city because of its ‘rich heritage of film’. It’s been the location for many great flicks and TV series over the years, with Peaky Blinders, Downtown Abbey, The King’s Speech, Victoria, God’s Own Country and many more hosting scenes in and around Bradford. Perhaps this is what inspired the creative energy which has gone into the fabulous independent cinema.

Halliday Clark, the architects behind the project, turned this former nightclub into somewhere truly special. Europe’s smallest of its kind, the space is fully air conditioned, comfortable and roomy for its size, with armchairs in mismatched colours contributing to that sense you’re enjoying a film in your best mate’s living room, only better.

The cinema isn’t only devoted to film. In fact, they run a whole host of other happenings at the cinema though, like rock climbing and cycling cinema events, as well as live theatre performances.

HYDE PARK PICTURE HOUSE, LEEDS

Not to be outdone by their neighbours in Ilkley, Hyde Park Picture House is the self proclaimed ‘home of independent cinema in Leeds’ and we couldn’t agree more with that description. Housed on Brudenell Road, this Grade II listed building recently received backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund, meaning this gorgeous space now has funding to keep it looking as beautiful as ever.

Built by revered local architects Thomas Winn & Sons in 1914, HPPH is the only gaslit cinema remaining in the UK, and offers a diverse program of both big international releases and more niche arthouse offerings. With £2.3 million from the National Lottery going into a new, second screen and improved accessibility, we can’t wait to see what this fantastic independent cinema does next.

RITZY, BRIXTON 

One of the most iconic independent cinemas in the UK, the Ritzy, in the heart of bustling Brixton, is a film lover’s paradise. 

Built in 1911, originally the cinema contained just one, massive 750 seater auditorium, but has since gone through several restoration projects and is now a Grade II listed building. The most impactful update was carried out by Earle Architects, who made room for a foyer, kiosk and other features which eventually led to the venue managing to accommodate five screens and two bars, with the latter, named Upstairs, also hosting live music events and serving great food. Yep, this is one of the true independent heavy hitters on the country’s film circuit.

Should you be seeking further independent cinema fun in the local area, Clapham Picturehouse is 10 minutes just down the road, and is just as splendid as the Ritzy.

Ritzy | © Rirzy

RIO, DALSTON 

On Dalston’s ever happening Kingsland Road stands the Rio, one of the UK’s most revered, beloved independent cinemas. The art deco exterior (which was lovingly restored in 2017 after a fundraising drive which achieved £125’000) is impactful and eye-catching, to say the least, and is one of the defining sites of Dalston.

Faithful to the ethos of any great independent cinema and also, as a non profit charity, the Rio plays a key role in the community, with heavily discounted seats offered to Hackney residents, matinee showings of classic films for care home residents and senior citizens, a regular parent and baby screening, cultural outreach programs and much more. It’s also the longest running community cinema in the country, and sets the tone with its philanthropic endeavours. Membership at Rio Cinema supports the local community and those in need; get involved!

Rio Cinema | © Rio Cinema

LEWES DEPOT, LEWES

This three screen, state of the art independent cinema in Lewes hasn’t been around as long as some of the other inclusions on our list (Depot only opened in 2017), but it’s already become a treasured part of the Sussex town’s community and a cultural focal point to boot.

Here you’ll find an eclectic range of showings, from blockbusters to arthouse, documentaries to foreign language films and everything in between. Lewes Depot is run as a not-for-profit and has charitable status, and offers regular workshops, guest speakers and events designed to be inclusive to all in the community.

Depot also provides the opportunity for budding filmmakers to screen their work for the first time, and there’s a small gig venue and highly regarded restaurant serving sustainably sourced, light plates of deliciousness, too. Our favourite newcomer in the UK, make no mistake!