drive in theatre

There are a ton of unique drive-in theatre experiences and events in Canada this summer

If there has been one good thing to come from the pandemic lockdown measures for businesses — it's innovation.

Businesses that were permitted to remain open throughout the health crisis have had to adopt new rules around things like social distancing and regular sanitization, while ones that haven't been allowed to fully open yet have had to find some more creative ways to keep at least some money coming in during this unprecedented time.

One of these new methods of doing business is making experiences drive-in and drive-thru only — and whether it's live musical performances, zoos or even strip clubs, this may be the type of activity for summer 2020.

Some of the unique new drive-in and drive-thru experiences coming to cites across Canada include:

Drive-in theatre at Winnipeg airport

Yes, the Manitoba city's main airport will now be home to a new drive-in movie theatre.

The Winnipeg Richardson International Airport will be able to accommodate approximately 200 cars in a parking lot that it is dedicating to a series of events. Movies are showing through June, and perhaps later if the demand is there and the airport authority allows.

A new drive-in event venue in Montreal

The Royalmount Drive-In Event Theatre is a brand new venue at which guests can watch live concerts, comedy shows, movies and more from the safety of their socially distanced vehicles.

The location, which can hold 250 cars in front of its giant stage and LED screen, is just a 10 minute drive from downtown Montreal, and can be rented out for any type of private drive-in gathering, as well.

Drive-in movies in suburban Quebec

Just a bit west of Montreal proper in the suburb of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, a pop-up drive-in theatre is being set up in a secondary school parking lot for the season.

The city is using the money it would normally allocate to other events to revamp the Campus de la Cité-des-Jeunes, which will be able to hold up to 100 cars.

A new drive-in movie theatre in Regina

A drive-in movie was shown in the city of Regina for the first time in 14 years on June 5, christening the new Regina Drive In Movies theatre, which is situated in the parking lot of the Saskatchewan capital's Northgate Mall.

Up to 65 cars will be able to catch flicks every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night this summer.

A drive-thru zoo in Toronto

Is it the way of the future, or the way of the nearby African Lion Safari that has been around since 1969? Either way, the Toronto Zoo has created a totally ingenious way for people to come by and visit the animals, which have, until 2020, been on display to the public 364 days a year.

The Scenic Safari allows patrons to drive on pathways usually used for zoo staff to get around. These pathways conveniently go through every area of the park. The idea has already been so popular that the ticket site has crashed on multiple occasions.

A drive-in comedy festival at the Montreal airport

Montreal, the hardest-hit city in the hardest-hit province during the pandemic, is really running with the whole drive-in concept.

FAUV Festival is set to be a three-night comedy festival that viewers will enjoy entirely from their cars.

Roughly 500 vehicles will be able to pack into a parking lot at the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport to watch acts like Mehdi Bousaidan, Les Grandes Crues and Eddy King & Neev for $60 per night.

Multiple new drive-in theatres in and around Vancouver

Vancouver, Abbotsford, Langley, Burnaby and West Vancouver are among the locations for some forthcoming drive-in theatres, the new way to watch a movie while the threat of the novel coronavirus still looms.

The companies behind the brand new venues are still waiting for the go ahead from local health authorities, but hopefully they'll be up and running soon.

...and around the country

It seems that there will be a slew of additions to the list of 30-or-so drive-in movie theatres that already exist across Canada, including a run-down former drive-in in Woodstock, Ontario that is getting restored for its summer 2020 return.

Drive-in art installations in Toronto

Toronto was due to be home to a much-anticipated immersive Vincent van Gogh exhibit before the pandemic hit. But, organizers adapted and pushed on, creating a digital installation drive-through and cleverly naming it Gogh by Car.

Drive-in concerts, church services and other events coast-to-coast

At the end of last month, there was a drive-in live performance by local act Studio 720 in Prince George, B.C., and in just a matter of days, country star Brett Kissel will play to a sea of cars in Edmonton to support local food banks.

Toronto rock group July Talk also confirmed the dates for At the Drive-In, a two-day drive-thru live concert due to take place at a drive-in movie theatre just outside of the city in mid-August.

Meanwhile, churches have transitioned services to a drive-in format based on the rules in their province until they are able to fully open to the public again, and various businesses and communities from Nanaimo to Saskatoon to Calgary have Macgyvered pop-up drive-in movie events on random nights to boost spirits.

With this new model — possible in virtually any parking lot or other outdoor space able to fit enough cars — there will certainly be more such events to come throughout the summer.

Lead photo by

Thomas Hawk

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