Most large events and festivals have been cancelled this summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many Canadians struggling to find ways to keep themselves and their kids entertained this summer. Although public safety concerns should be taken seriously, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy drive-in and drive-through events across the country.
From west to east, we’ve compiled a list of events and activities that you and your family can enjoy this summer while staying socially distanced in the comfort of your own car. The best part? Some of the proceeds will go to charity and many of these activities are a great way to support local small businesses.
There are plenty of things to do around Vancouver without stepping out of your car. The Summerset Benefit Concert in Langley is a car-friendly event happening at the end of August, and attendees will be able to enjoy it like a drive-in or tailgate, as well as online and on the grounds, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines. Proceeds from the event go to support local musicians and artists in B.C. who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The setlist hasn’t been announced yet, and it’s important to note that B.C. currently has a 50-car restriction for drive-in events, though the organizers are appealing this restriction and are cautiously optimistic about the outcome.
Another option is the Drive-Thru Food Truck Fest happening in B.C. in June. Rather than pack a crowded event space with people, the festival is accommodating a drive-through format. It’s free to attend, so why not check out the dates and participants right here? It seems like a great way to get fed, maybe try some new food, and support small businesses that were likely impacted by the lockdown.
Animal lovers can drive to the Taves Estate Cidery every Saturday to watch their goats play around. While we can’t cuddle or do yoga with the goats, it’s just a joy to watch them play without a care in the world and without even leaving your car. You can also participate in a butterfly release, which the Estate says symbolizes renewal. Each session is arranged with a one-on-one time for safety.
And, finally, if you want a great photo-op or to take in the beautiful views of B.C., be sure to check out some of these highway viewpoints, provided by To-Do Canada. Can you ever get tired of that gorgeous mountain backdrop in British Columbia?
The popular Calgary Underground Film Festival has undergone some changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the majority of film screenings will be done online, the festival is hosting two nights of drive-in screenings at Big Rock Brewery on Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27. Those not attending the drive-in can enjoy the festival from the comfort of their own home, thanks to the CUFFs streaming service.
The Calgary Farmyard features a Drive-Thru format this summer and while there are no entry fees, they are asking guests to donate to their local food banks. The drive-through offers guests a chance to see goats, sheep, llamas, bunnies, cows, donkeys, horses, chickens, and pigs from their own car and there’s a 25-minute educational guide you can listen to while you cruise through the farm. While we love farm tours, we’d consider bringing an extra air freshener to keep the cabin smelling less like a barnyard.
Calgarians can also look forward to Motor Nights, a series of drive-in events starting with movies. This initiative comes courtesy of Curioucity and YYCFoodtrucks, but there have been few details about what they’re planning. They encourage you to sign up for their newsletter and follow them on Instagram.
The City of Edmonton has a pretty cool Neon Sign Museum, where you can catch about 20 historic and vintage neon signs mounted on the outside of the building. The city also has many public art pieces, in case you’re in the mood to tour the city.
Alberta-born country musician Brett Kissel will be performing live for a drive-in audience at the River Cree Resort & Casino on June 13 and 14. All proceeds from the event go to the Alberta Food Bank.
Finally, Volvo of Edmonton is presenting a selection of drive-in movies at the Workshop Eatery. You can find a schedule and link to buy tickets here, with tickets coming in at $17.50 per person or $50 per family.
In Saskatoon, the Sasktel Centre is converting its parking lot into a giant drive-in theatre. You can get show and ticket information here. Tickets are a bit on the high end (this is a Canadian-owned telecom company, after all), ranging from $39.50 to $99.50 per vehicle, though the more expensive admission comes with a concession package with beverages.
Regina has a few drive-in theatres operating while the usual sit-in theatres remain closed. The Twilite Drive-in Theatre in Wolseley is running through July with a selection of newer movies for $20 per car, while All In Events have started running a drive-in theatre out of a parking lot at the Northgate Mall and you can buy a pass for $30. Unfortunately, the Summer Bash at Fairchild Park has been cancelled for 2020, but the festival is also running a series of drive-in movie nights out of a parking lot at the University of Regina. You can find showtimes and buy tickets online here with tickets ranging from $10 to $20.
The Stardust Drive-in is found in Morden, just south of Winnipeg, and they’re running through the summer as well. You can find tickets and information at their website. Prices are $10 per person.
The Toronto Zoo is hosting a drive-through service with limited tickets. Fortunately, there are other zoos to drive through in Ontario as well, like the Indian River Reptile Zoo, which now offers a Dinosaur Drive-Thru tour for $16.93 to $22.23 per vehicle, depending on the date. To alleviate your fears that a horrifying Jurassic Park situation will happen just outside of Toronto, the zoo uses animatronic dinos, so we’re safe, as long as you trust robots.
Art lovers can participate in the immersive Van Gogh exhibit that has a drive-in experience at 1 Yonge Street, though tickets are limited.
Music fans, on the other hand, have a drive-in July Talk concert to look forward to, as the band will take over a drive-in theatre just outside of Toronto in mid-August. There are also a few Drive-in theatres operating around the GTA, like the 5 Drive-in Oakville, the Starlight in Hamilton, and the Sunset Barrie. Prices range from $14 to $39 depending on the age and number of people in a car.
Those in Eastern Ontario have the Skylight Drive-In to enjoy, which is operating seven days a week with a selection of movies ranging from family-friendly to action and horror. The Skylight offers a flat rate of $20 per car, with up to six people per car. The Port Elmsley Drive-in was open for a short while in early June, it doesn’t seem to be offering any new showings yet, but that may change throughout the summer.
There’s been quite the buzz about a new drive-in experience opening up in Montreal called the Royalmount Drive-In Event Theatre. So far, the space has been used for graduations, but it’s likely to expand to other items as well.
There are a few other drive-in theatres around Montreal, including the Ciné-parc
Those in the Quebec City area can enjoy a nostalgic Drive-in Diner experience at the Restaurant Buffet Royal, which is a perfect date-night idea.
Two safari parks, the Parc Safari and Omega Parc, are appealing the government to reopen for the summer season. As the province begins to loosen restrictions, there’s a possibility the drive-through zoos can begin to host guests.
There are a few drive-in programs to be found around New Brunswick, including Music and Comedy at the Sussex Drive-In, which has musical acts The Divorcees as well as Jamie Comeau & the Crooked Teeth. Comedian James Mullinger will also perform. Tickets are $48.76 per car plus a $3.76 fee.
In Moncton, the Hub City Drive-In is also operating with double features starting at 7:30 p.m. for $38.15. A list of shows can be found on its Facebook page. The Marriott Fredericton has a pop-up drive-in theatre in its parking lot. The Marriott has 50 spots available and tickets include a drive-in dinner, making it perfect for date-night. Prices are $25 per adult and $15 per child.
Of course, New Brunswick is home to plenty of covered bridges, if you’re up for a tour, and there’s the iconic Daisy and Buttercup in Sussex, which is worthy of a road trip.
If you’re not interested in driving the Cabot trail, you can enjoy a few of the drive-in theatres found in Nova Scotia. The Valley Drive In found in Cambridge is set to reopen soon, as is the Highland Drive-In Theatre in Westville. The Cape Breton Drive-In has just opened its grounds for movie watching with an introductory admission price of $19.99 per car.
While many of the summer festivals in P.E.I. are cancelled or accommodating a new format, car owners can check out the Brackley Drive-In to enjoy a few movies on a night out. Prices are $10 per person, $20 per couple, or $30 per family and there are fewer take-out options at the canteen.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Mad Rock Popup Drive-In is open, just in Bay Roberts, and also features a rotating selection of food trucks on site to enhance your drive-in movie watching experience. Tickets are $20 per car.