"Car-Baret” and 6 Other Drive-In Events Across the U.S to Check Out This Summer

“What’s old is new again” has taken on new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic. Tie-dying everything, Depression-era recipes like peanut butter bread and crazy chocolate cake, embroidery—all ways to entertain ourselves as we stay at home. But now, as states start to reopen, another pastime of generations past is making a comeback—one that from 2014 to 2018 was widely declared “dead”: the drive-in.

Drive-in theaters have been steadily shuttering since the ‘80s, but now that we’re searching for things to do while maintaining a healthy distance from one another, in the open air, they fill a void that hadn’t existed pre-pandemic. And these days, they’re offering so much more than the latest movie. Event management company Eventbrite has hosted more than 1,000 drive-in events so far this year—more than nine times as many as the same time period in the past two years. Texas, Ohio, Minnesota, Maryland and Connecticut have been hosting the most events, but Eventbrite only expects options across the country to increase this summer, since drive-ins tend to be most popular in August.

Start planning your road trips—here are some of the coolest events taking place across the country.

1. car-a-oke & Trivia Nights

Calling it Car-a-oke and trivia actually sells this party short. The Parking Lot Social is a three-hour festival you can enjoy from your car, featuring things like bingo, stand-up comedy and variety shows, live music, silent discos (where you can dance around while wearing headphones), and yes, Car-a-oke, a massive sing-along. The show tours all over the country this summer, so you’ll have to visit The Parking Lot Social’s website for exact dates and lineups.

2. Stand-up Comedy

Venues across the country—Oakland, CA, Linden, NJ, Atlanta, GA, just to name a few—have been organizing stand-up shows that allow you to watch a comic on stage (or screen) while listening in through your car radio. Try searching for “drive-in comedy show” or “drive-in stand-up” to find one near you.

3. car-baret Shows

Billing itself as the “world’s first post-pandemic drive-in concert, film and vaudeville experience,” Car-Baret in Richardson, Texas, takes movie night to the next level. An upcoming screening of the trippy, David Bowie and Jennifer Connolly fantasy flick Labyrinth features illusions from a local magician, Confetti Eddie, as well as a “magic dance” (your guess is as good as ours as to what that means). You can also order veggie tacos, kebabs or BBQ from Brizo, the restaurant hosting these parties.

4. Drag Shows

The stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race are going on tour for Drive ‘N Drag, stopping at five major cities across the U.S. for a very 2020 take on drag shows. Expect laser lights, banging music and several queens taking the stage—and projected on the Jumbotron—making for one party you won’t want to miss. Oh, and if you get hungry during the show, there will be food trucks on hand, so you can grab a quick snack.

drive in events nelly
Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

5. concerts

Back in 2002, you stood shoulder to shoulder in a swarm of sweaty people, shouting along with Nelly to “Hot in Herre.” As much as you’re dying to relive those days, we dare say the 2020 version of this might be better. Nelly’s touring again—as well as other stars, like Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker—only via Live Nation’s Live at the Drive-In series. On select dates, you can visit a participating stadium, and you’ll be given a designated “tailgate” space, so you and your pod can party along to Nelly on the big screen while maintaining a safe social distance from strangers. And getting way less sweaty and stomped on.

6. Church Services

Out of all of the drive-in events Eventbrite has hosted this year, 38 percent have included the words “worship” or “church” in the description. It’s a more engaging alternative to livestream services, and many are offered right in the church’s parking lot, rather than at a traditional drive-in theater.

7. weddings

If you’re looking for a wedding venue that might actually keep your mom from hugging everyone in sight, a drive-in theater could be it. More drive-in theaters are renting out their venues (and equipment) for special events, and hey, it would make for a memorable way to say “I do.” One look at this couple’s ceremony, and you’ll be convinced.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...