Move over, drive-in cinema, there’s a new type of entertainment in the parking lot – and it’s here to stay (for now). In the midst of pandemic closures, drive-in theatres turned out to be the perfect setting for safe, socially distanced live music, shows and events. All over the world, they offered the opportunity to get out of the house, while staying in your bubble. Even as restrictions are relaxed in many countries, viewing live entertainment from your car remains an attractive alternative to packed, hot, standing-room-only venues. We don’t know yet if drive-ins will become a permanent fixture on the gig circuit – or if we want them to – but we’ve got one more summer to find out.

The Alfresco Theatre. Various locations near London, UK

In the UK, the Alfresco Theatre pretty much has the drive-in market cornered. From films and comedy nights to the Gruffalo Musical and live music tribute shows by Björn Again and the Bootleg Beatles, the events provide entertainment that caters to all tastes. They also offer a menu several steps above festival catering: Dishes created by celebrity chefs Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein, Jason Atherton, Atul Kochhar and Paul Ainsworth can be pre-ordered with event tickets. The Alfresco Theatre will pop up at six locations, all less than two hours from London, through mid-June. Organisers have already promised to relax event restrictions in line with national guidelines.

Car Park Party. Various locations, UK

Elsewhere in the UK, drive-in entertainment is a family affair. Car Park Party launched last summer with a touring performance of Horrible Histories, based on the successful book series and CBBC show. Later in 2020, they held a series of Christmas Panto performances. This year, they’re taking Horrible Histories on the road again, as well as a production of Billionaire Boy. The play is based on the children’s book by comedian David Walliams, star of Little Britain, Britain’s Got Talent and, um, catching a tummy bug while swimming the filthy River Thames for charity. However, you’ll have to hurry to catch the show before the end of its run, the 3rd of May.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Car Park Party 🚘 (@carparkparty)

West End Musical Drive-In. London, UK

Drive-in musical theatre was already a great success last year – with fans, of course, but also with the performers who finally got to take to the stage again, despite theatres being closed. This year’s line-up at the West End Musical Drive-In includes performers from classic musicals currently on hiatus in West End theatres like Evita, Cats, Fame, Les Miserables and Chicago, plus stars of some of the greatest recent box-office hits like Heathers, Five Guys Named Moe and Shrek. Judging by the 2020 season, you can expect this to be a joyous celebration of musical theatre – singing along strongly encouraged!

City View Drive-in. Toronto, Canada

As the name indicates, City View Drive-In offers live music with a Toronto skyline backdrop across the water. Operated by Rebel nightclub and located in the venue’s waterfront parking lot, its initial run of dates was a welcome way for the entertainment sector to stay afloat. Now that a loosening of restrictions looms on the horizon, a second season will help ease the transition back to regular concerts and events. The line-up continues to feature Canadian acts, most prominently two May gigs by indie rock band Tokyo Police Club and Toronto-based Born Ruffians. Classic Rock fans will enjoy a pair of events in May and June – Classic Albums Live will see tribute acts play “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Led Zeppelin II”, respectively, “note for note/cut for cut”.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by CityView Drive-In (@cityviewdrivein)

Drive-In Music Live Concert Series. Mount Vernon, Washington, USA

Skagit Valley in Washington State, close to Seattle, launched its first Drive-In Music Live Concert Series in August 2020. Now the event returns with six bands playing at the Skagit County Fairgrounds on three Saturdays in June 2021. On 5th June, the series opens with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers tribute band Petty Fever. On the 19th, it closes with a tribute band double bill featuring Creedence Revelation Featuring Randy Linder and Randy Hansen’s Jimi Hendrix Revolution. In between, independent country artist Jessica Lynne Witty headlines on the 12th.

Drive-In OC. Anaheim, California, USA

The City National Grove of Anaheim has been hosting drive-in concerts and shows since July 2020. Usually a 1,700-seat indoor venue, in the past year it has held more than 60 outdoor events with a capacity of up to 300 cars. As pandemic measures relax, the Drive-In OC series winds down with a headline performance by DJ and producer Subtronics. Billed as part of the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, his set could be one to watch. After all, the touring brand has previously accelerated the rise to prominence of stars like Post Malone, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and The Chainsmokers.

Concerts In Your Car. Ventura, California, USA

On the other side of Los Angeles, another drive-in series that helped Californians get through the pandemic also continues its successful run. Since June of 2020, CBF productions has organised more than 170 socially distanced live events in California and Arizona. The production company’s Concerts In Your Car series drew big names like Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, The Beach Boys and Ziggy Marley. In June, you can catch ‘90s R&B superstar Nelly at the Ventura drive-in. In May, the somewhat less famous, but no less entertaining Yächtley Crëw take the stage, with a signature “Yacht Rock” tribute show (think ironically heightened performances of ‘80s soft rock and power ballads).

Skillet Victorious Tour and Toby Mac Drive-In Theater Tour. Various locations, USA

Christian rock band Skillet are doing a fully-fledged drive-in tour across 11 US states. The band is supported by fellow Tennesseans, Christian folk singer Jordan Feliz and American Idol alum Colton Dixon. Further underlining the notion that COVID-compliant concerts are the way to go is fellow Christian artist Toby Mac. The rapper’s Drive-In Theater Tour will take him to six states in May, before picking up rescheduled indoor dates later in the year.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Skillet (@skilletmusic)

Spring Drive-In Concert Series. Roswell, Georgia, USA

Live music and beer is clearly a match made in heaven. Since both couldn’t be served together indoors at the height of the pandemic, From the Earth Brewing Company simply took things outdoors. The microbrewery’s Drive-In Concert Series is technically more of a car park concert, with patrons assembling in designated areas on the brewery’s car park, outside their cars. The line-up is a suitably boozy mix of tribute bands, folk and indie rockers.

Showtime at the Drive-in. Frederick, Maryland, USA

Frederick, Maryland is spoiled for choice with a jam-packed line-up of gigs happening on the city’s fairgrounds this summer. Unlike other event series with weekly or monthly concerts, the organisers are offering live music pretty much every other day from May through mid-June.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Related Articles