Piccadilly Basin’s Float-in Movie

American drive-in. Malaysian food. Mancunian temperature. Did it all work?

By Manchester's Finest | 29 August 2012

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Manchester’s first ever float/drive/walk-in movie took place in Piccadilly Basin on 22nd and 23rd August. After screening Captain America (filmed nearby) on the Wednesday, the Thursday was up for public vote. I plumped for Jaws (“We’re gonna need a bigger coat”), but the winner was ‘The Life Aquatic’ — one man’s struggle to wear a bright red condom as a hat for 119 minutes.

Amazingly, the Mancunian weather was positively balmy. But just in case, there was an M&S nearby to buy a jacket. And for those preferring the familiar fit of a beer jacket, Malaysian restaurant Ning had a stall offering liquid refreshment and tasty cuisine. The atmosphere was festival-street-party, all blankets, beer and beautiful people enjoying the novelty of a drive-in with deckchairs.

The car park/screen could have done with a sheet over the slats, but other than that, the location was great. Foot, car and canal boat all being acceptable modes of transport. For three glorious hours, the sailors at the helm of those mighty longboats were the kings of the waterways. The domain of the canal boat holidayer was no longer confined to retired couples in the ‘90s — it suddenly seemed within tantalising reach of the common man. Until sadly, the Float-in Movie night ended and I realised they’re effectively thin caravans — albeit ones making excellent use of space. Is it a toaster? Is it a toilet? It’s both!

For a fun, free two nights, the whole experience was awesome. The lights looked really pretty and were a stylish solution to the health and safety nightmare of staging an event next to a canal. With beer. In the dark. Thankfully, there were even ‘proper’ toilets, courtesy of Fresh (both the name of the bar, and the state of the loos), and you just can’t beat the novelty of watching a movie outdoors. I tried watching a DVD from outside my living room window but I just ended up freaking out my neighbours. Next time, get yourself down there — ideally with an American convertible that can close its roof within 30 seconds, in case of Mancunian rain.