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How to Host Drive-in Events

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Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people all over the world have successfully shifted their way of living life and way of doing business. With industry shut-downs, mandated shelter-in-place orders and so much more, we have been forced to get creative with how we can stay connected and social. While COVID-19 requires that we stay socially distant, thanks to technology, there are still a myriad of ways that we can stay connected.

One way to stay connected is with a drive-in event. A drive-in event allows visitors to be near each other and to celebrate something huge in the safety of their own car. A drive-in event was featured at the celebration of the announcement of United States president-elect Joe Biden. And Metallica also put on an outdoor concert and drive-in event back in August, presented by Encore Drive-in Nights.

By allowing vehicles to park as if they were at a drive-in movie theatre, attendees can celebrate with each other in new ways. Naturally, the drive-in event is a little tricky to host. After all, there becomes a lot more logistics involved in organizing the cars and counting heads. If you think hosting a drive-in event would be pretty cool, and would be great for your brand, you’re right! Here’s our guide on how to host a successful drive-in event for your next brand event.

Basics of a Drive-in Event

Hosting your own drive-in event requires that you understand its basic elements. On a base level, drive-in events are events that require attendees to be in or around a vehicle in order to attend the event. Any size vehicle is recommended, but typically it’s a standard vehicle (as opposed to a golf cart). Drive-ins are usually centered around a focus event. You might host an event that is a movie screening, an outdoor concert event, or a product promotion. Guests will need to be in vehicles and park in an open lot such as a grass field, dirt field, or a parking lot. And generally, they will all be facing some type of stage or main screen. Naturally, the drive-in event will allow fewer attendees than a normal event, but in this case, that is good. In fact, people might feel safer because the event is drive-in and, in a way, that is forcing physical distancing. Therefore, you might find a higher attendee interest simply through the event setup.

Considerations When Planning Your Drive-in Event

Vehicle Spacing

Included in these requirements is plenty of space between vehicles. While we might be seated directly next to each other at the movies, drive-in movies require that we are more spaced out. There might be a half car width or a full car width in-between vehicles.This is a standard drive-in event. And for the most part, these basics still apply to the COVID-style drive-in. However, there are additional requirements that your event should consider. The most essential requirement for the COVID drive-in is the spacing. In Canada (and many countries worldwide), the province of Ontario organizes COVID restrictions based on a color system. In yellow status, for example, the event will need at least 9 feet of spacing between attendees, and therefore, between cars. To do this, you’ll need to organize each parking spot that a car can use and clearly mark each parking space that is off-limits. When organizing a drive-in, you need to be malleable based on these restrictions. If, for example, you started to organize your event when your region was in green, then you wouldn’t need 9 feet of spacing between cars, and instead, you would need 6 feet. But if the status changed halfway through planning and more space was required, then you’ll need to be prepared to make that adjustment quickly and account for all the logistical changes.

Event Technology

Another element to consider when hosting a drive-in is the event technology itself. If you plan to ticket the event, you’ll want to use event planning software. Event software can help you to market the event, plan out ticketing and registration, collect data (through CRM integrations), and promote materials through a branded event webpage. If your drive-in event does not also have a live stream, it can, with a sophisticated event software like Accelevents. Event technology allows you to stay on top of all the goings-on of your event. Depending on the type of events that you are hosting, such as a drive-in conference, drive-in movie screening experience, a live performance, or a drive-in concert, then you may need more technology to facilitate that performance. If you are hosting any live music, also account for element-protected tech including speakers, microphones, screens, and AV equipment. Movie screenings, for example, would need a screen and film projection equipment. With the right event platform, you can embrace a virtual audience. You can put your live stream behind a paywall, making your drive-in event a hybrid event. A hybrid event allows you to reach a wider audience and potentially generate greater revenues.


Unfortunately, if you are located in a geographical region that experiences extreme seasonal shifts in weather, then you might be hard-pressed to host your ideal drive-in event. Instead, you’ll have to limit the event to a shorter amount of time so that people don’t get too cold, or aren’t required to start their vehicle too often in order to stay warm. If you aren’t limited by the cold weather and snow, then the event world is your oyster! However, be mindful that wind and rain might force the event to be called off. In this case, consider whether admission will be refunded during poor weather conditions. For a drive-in event like a movie night, try to pick a season that is forgiving when it comes to the elements.

Concessions and Utilities

Events typically come with all the bells and whistles, such as snacks, drinks, and washrooms. So if you are hosting a COVID-friendly event, even as a drive-in, then you’ll have to find a way to make this work. As far as concession goes, this is easy. Simply ask your patrons to bring their own. However, managing washrooms is a little more difficult. You may have to limit the restroom to two people at a time or bring in individual use port-o-potties. Utilities also need to be provided, such as electrical and perhaps heat sources. If you are hosting something like a drive-in concert, then you’ll want to bring in a full-on production team as they will have their own equipment.

Run Your Drive-in Event with Accelevents

Your drive-in event can be promoted through physical advertising as well as digital advertising. Use event software like Accelevents to host the event but to also market the event, track important metrics, and sell tickets online. Accelevents is a sophisticated event management software that keeps everything in one place.

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