Road Trip: Picnic and a Movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Confession: I don’t always share my fav things on this blog. Publicity can easily wreck a great experience. Case in point: the LA Times decided the week before this adventure to run a feature on something Larry and I’ve been trying to hit for three years: Cinespia movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica Blvd. Saturdays during summer, you can picnic on the lawn and watch a classic movie projected on the mausoleum wall. It takes effort, and we were finally pulling it together.

We had a date, friends lined up, menu assignments, then WHAMMO, that article.  3,000+ people (our estimate, plenty of time to count). They were all cool people. Nice people. Happy people. No problems there, but it added to the effort. Yet, the experience was helped by lovely weather and entertainment like Cupcake Stewardesses (the movie was Airplane).

Big whew: friends Cathi and Barry had been a few times and gave helpful hints, listed below. They arrived at 6 PM with pals Maureen and Dave, got a spot in line on the grass (the line was quickly down the street and around the corner), put out beach chairs, alerted other line-goers we’d be joining them, and opened a bottle of bubbly. We didn’t find street parking for an additional half hour. When the gate opened at 7:30 PM ($10 admission), and we slowly snaked back and forth toward it (Disneyland style), it was an hour to get inside (so, 8:30), sun was down, another quarter-mile walk in, darker and darker, found a spot guided by helpful cemetery staff, used flashlights to set up, ate well (Triple Citrus Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze dessert) and suddenly 9 PM, movie time.

AIRPLANE, the movie, perfect — even at the distance we were sitting. The guy in front of me had an infectious belly laugh, making me laugh all the harder. There were plenty of porta-potties, security, good sound system. Very comfortable all around. Would we go again? Sure!


  • If you are an antsy person, plan to use your yoga breathing because everything is slow but worth the effort.
  • Arrive super early, start picnicking while in line. 5:30 PM is a better target arrival time for a 9 PM movie.
  • Park in the neighborhood and hoof it. There is parking in the cemetery ($10), but that opens at 7:30 which means you hover around the neighborhood in your car, and it looked like getting out was tough.
  • It’s a long walk; whatever you bring needs to carry far or roll. Cathi’s rolling picnic basket was heavy on the lawn, but OK once on asphalt.
  • Flashlights: important. More than one, smart.
  • Blanket, jacket, LOW chairs (ours sit a foot off the ground, so I flipped mine upside down and leaned on it).
  • Good food, good friends, good wine – we have wire wine glass holders (photo above) that stick into the grass, plus plastic wineglasses, also helpful.

Here is the link, join the email list for weekly announcements of the movies:  Cinespia Movie Screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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1 Lentil Breakdown August 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I’ve never been there to see a movie, but I’ve been to the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival at the beginning of November for several years. The graveyard is a lit-up, festively macabre sight to behold. Last year the crowd had doubled and was quite an ordeal, so it may be adios for me.

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