three memorable glasgow cinema experiences;

You know that inertia thing people get with gym memberships?

I’ve spent most of the past couple of years in a similar relationship with my Cineworld Unlimited card.

It took the latest price increase – and, I guess, my ongoing budgeting project – to jolt me into making the membership pay for itself. Which is, in theory, easy enough to do: you only need to see two films in any given month before you’re saving money, and there’s a Cineworld close enough to my house that we were able to go see Black Panther towards the end of the recent snow storm.

I actually really love going to the cinema on my own. Picking a couple of films, loading up on (discounted, thanks to the card) treats and making a day of it. Big jumper, no make-up and a hefty bag of pick and mix, and escaping into some fictional worlds for a while.

But there are plenty who would argue that going to the cinema is a social activity, and that’s certainly the case for these three out-of-the-norm cinema experiences in Glasgow. Grab some popcorn, a date or a buddy, and try:


My first 3D cinema experience was a slightly nauseating one, behind a pair of plastic glasses that dwarfed both my regular frames and my face. I never felt any particular desire to feel part of the action, or see my movies come to life, or whatever slogans they gave to the craze: it was a story, and that was fine.

Since then, both 3D cinema and the glasses they provide have evolved spectacularly, although it’s never my first choice of format in which to see something new. I figured 4DX, Cineworld’s immersive cinematic experience, would be more of the same albeit with shoogly chairs – and then, last month, I gave it a try for myself.

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Cineworld 4DX seating
Cineworld 4DX reaction

First introduced in South Korea, 4DX combines high-tech motion seats that move with the action on screen with special effects such as wind, fog, lightning, bubbles, water and scent. Pick the right film – as we did, with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – and it’s not so much like being in the movie as a top-of-the-line fairground ride (starring Karen Gillan). Stringer and I may have arrived with hardened, cynical hearts, but we left whooping and shrieking like over-excited schoolkids. It helped that the film was way better than we anticipated too, combining the spirit of the 1995 original with some cleverly subverted tropes.

You can currently see Black Panther and Red Sparrow in 4DX at Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street, with Tomb Raider, Ready Player One and Peter Rabbit due to follow in the next couple of weeks. Effects vary by movie, and you can turn off the water spray if you really feel the need to (although I wouldn’t: it was great fun).

A nervous Lis ready for Cineworld 4DX

You can tell this is the “before” shot from the terror on my face.

Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street is also home to one of two Cineworld VIP experiences in the UK (the other is in Sheffield). The closest thing I’ve seen to mine and MC’s five-star Dubai cinema experience, with Cineworld VIP you can enjoy an unlimited pre-cinema buffet, soft drinks and treats in a dedicated lounge then relax and enjoy the film in luxurious, fully-reclining seats. No pillows or blankets, though. Some things are just too extra.


Speaking of extra… ever fancied your own private cinema screening, with five-star food and multi-coloured Harris Tweed upholstered chairs? Then the hidden gem that is Blythswood Square Hotel’s basement cinema room is for you.

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Sarah and Lis at Blythswood Square Hotel private cinema screening room
Blythswood Square Hotel private cinema screening room

Though obviously ideal for private bookings (like the special bloggers’ screening of Mean Girls Sarah and I attended last year, or the hen party one of the staff members told us she had held there…) the Blythswood also hosts a regular, family friendly, afternoon tea/cinema club throughout the year. Enjoy afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco, popcorn and a movie for a special occasion – check out the Blythswood Square Hotel website to see what they have coming up.


With Glasgow Film Festival over for another year, it’s the perfect time to give an honourable mention to the gorgeous, B-listed Glasgow Film Theatre up on Rose Street. Its curtained screens, lovely bars and slightly more eclectic programming mean every trip up there feels like a proper outing – especially if, as is often the case during the film festival or for indie or local programming, there’s a Q&A with the cast or director afterwards.

Cineworld pick and mix - the best thing about the cinema
The Party's Just Beginning post-premiere Q&A with Karen Gillan, Rachel Jackson, Mali Elfman and Glasgow Film Festival staff

I make no apologies for the fact that this is a Karen Gillan-heavy roundup. You are, of course, welcome to see films that do not star Karen Gillan.

The GFT, as it is known by locals, is not Glasgow’s oldest surviving cinema by any means though. That honour almost certainly belongs to the Britannia Panopticon – the world’s oldest surviving music hall, incongruously disguised from Argyle Street below by an amusement arcade and a McDonald’s. The Panopticon boasts regular screenings of the same silent comedies, Laurel and Hardy films and vintage cartoons that were popular in the venue’s heyday, many of which are free to watch. Check out their website or Facebook for an up-to-date programme.

Thanks to Cineworld and Blythswood Square Hotel for some fab cinema experiences and the use of some of the above photos.