Five drive-ins in and around Toronto to satisfy your cinematic summertime cravings

Five drive-ins in and around Toronto to satisfy your cinematic summertime cravings

Photo courtesy of Premier Theatres/Instagram

In the age of Covid (and closed movie theatres), romantic, retro drive-ins are suddenly having a moment—and for film buffs looking for that big screen experience, they’re the only option. Here are a handful within reasonable driving distance that you can check out this summer.


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5 Drive-In

This Oakville drive-in has three giant screens showcasing a variety of visual treats. Right now, feature films include cult classics like Bad Boys for Life and Jumanji, along with newer movies like Jon Stewart’s Irresistible, which stars Steve Carell as a Democratic strategist trying to help a retired marine win a mayoral election in a small right-wing town. If country music is your jam, they also host televised drive-in concerts: last weekend was Garth Brooks for $135 a pop. The operator, Premier Theatres, also has drive-ins in Barrie (Sunset Barrie), Hamilton (Starlite Hamilton) and Newmarket (Stardust Newmarket), all showing the same selection of films.



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CityView Drive-In

This brand-new drive-in experience, from nightclub king Charles Khabouth, launches this July at the parking lot across from Rebel Nightclub and Cabana Pool Bar, which Khabouth has just turned into the Covid-friendly Cabana Waterfront Patio. The parking lot used to house vehicles for Rebel’s designated drivers, but since the club remains shuttered for now, Khabouth is putting it to practical use and has installed a 238-foot stage and three large LED screens. If guests don’t want to roll down their windows, they can listen through a designated FM radio frequency. The space can hold more than 200 cars at least seven feet apart, in every other parking space. Khabouth says the venue will be used for concerts,  movie nights and corporate events. Coming up on July 18 is a show from Toronto musician Allan Rayman, and A Tribe Called Red is performing on August 6. Tickets are available through their website starting early July.



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The Mustang Drive-In

Anyone taking a day trip to P.E.C. might want to cap off their evening with an outdoor movie at this Bloomfield drive-in, which has been around since the 1950s. New owners took over the spot right in the middle of the pandemic, and they’re committed to turning it into a must-visit tourist destination for nostalgia hunters. Shows run Wednesday to Sunday, and until July 5 you can catch films like Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, The Goonies, Lego Batman, and Won’t You Be My Neighbour?, the 2018 documentary about Mr. Rogers. Later in the month visitors can catch classic comedies like Space Jam, Mean Girls and I Love You, Man. The show costs $30 per carload.



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Downsview Park

This year, Downsview Park is morphing its usual picnic-on-the-grass movie nights into a car-friendly format. Every other Friday until September 4, the park will be showing a free film chosen in partnership with MadeNous, an organization that celebrates the work of Canadian film creators. Viewers can expect blockbuster productions brought to life by Canadian crews or Canadian post-production houses. The series kicks off July 3 with a screening of Arrival, the 2016 sci-fi flick from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. Though screenings are free, viewers have to RSVP on their website to reserve a spot.



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Port Hope Drive-In

This al fresco theatre, just over an hour’s drive from the city, is currently operating their lot at half capacity, allowing for 200 cars to park in every other space (and all passengers in a car must share a household). Their concession remains open, though, hawking candy, ice cream, popcorn, chicken nuggets and fries. Right now, they’re playing nostalgic, feel-good films like Happy Gilmore, Uncle Buck and The Flintstones. On Fridays and Saturdays, anyone looking to relive now-non-existent college debauchery can catch a screening of Animal House. Tickets are $12.50 for adults, and $5 for kids. On Sundays, it’s $15 per carload.