Where to watch drive-in movies in Toronto this summer

If you have access to a car, it's still possible to go to the movies this summer. Here's a guide to the drive-ins in and around the GTA


 
 
 

Cineplex may be enthusiastically reopening its screens out west, but it feels like the conventional movie theatre experience is still a ways off for Toronto cinemagoers… and even when once it arrives, it’s likely to be a stressful proposition for those of us who worry about other people’s mask-wearing skills.

But all is not lost: the good old drive-in is here to offer a relatively low-risk environment in which to lose yourself in a movie. The latest science suggests coronavirus doesn’t spread as easily outdoors, parking lots have built-in physical distancing, and if someone sneezes three vehicles away you can always roll up your window. This obviously presumes you own a car, or have access to one… but if you do, these are the drive-in venues operating within an hour’s drive of the GTA.

CityView Drive-In

Courtesy of Rebel nightclub, and with parking spaces a minimum of seven feet apart to suit social-distancing protocols, this new venue on Polson Pier is intended to host live music – including shows by Monster Truck (July 16), Allan Rayman (July 18) and A Tribe Called Red (August 6) – and the occasional movie screening. With concessions and merch available for online ordering directly to your spot, CityView promises “an entirely contactless experience”… unless you need to use the bathroom, of course.

20 Polson, cityviewdrivein.com

Downsview Park

Downsview Park has reconfigured its Friday Night Lights summer screening series for vehicular audiences. This year’s season, part of a national screening series presented by MADE, focuses on blockbusters from “Canadian creators” – meaning if it was shot in Canada, completed post-production here or features Canadian talent in front of or behind the camera, it counts. It all kicks off on Friday (July 3) with Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, which has already sold out. The July 24 feature will be revealed about two weeks in advance of show day.

Festival Terrace, Canuck Avenue, event website

Lavazza Drive-In Film Festival

Co-presented by the Italian Contemporary Film Festival – which, like every other spring film festival, saw its 2020 edition derailed by the pandemic – this outdoor series of international cinema runs from July 20 to 31 at Ontario Place, with Sergio Navarretta’s The Cuban as the opening night feature. 

955 Lakeshore West, icff.ca

5 Drive-In

Premier Theatres’s triple-screen Oakville venue, just off the QEW, offers a mixture of new releases, family-friendly classics and the occasional concert special. It’s also the one in closest proximity to a Farm Boy, which makes the prohibition on outside food almost cruel. (Those milk chocolate double-roasted almonds are the perfect accompaniment to Bloodshot.)

2332 Ninth Line, Oakville, premiertheatres.ca/5drivein

Stardust Drive-In

Head north on the 404 towards Newmarket, and you’ll find the Stardust – another of Premier’s three-screen outdoor theatres. Like the 5 and the Starlite, it screens a mixture of new releases and older favourites, and the occasional concert special. It’s also the location of the Together At The Drive-In music and film series happening July 25 and 26, a benefit event for Second Harvest scheduled to include performances from Kardinal Offishall, Karl Wolf, 4Korners and many more, along with film screenings to be announced.

893 Mount Albert, Newmarket, premiertheatres.ca/stardust

Starlite Drive-In

It’s closer to Hamilton than Toronto, but we’re feeling generous. The three-screen Premier venue runs nightly double features of recent studio releases (The Invisible Man, Irresistible) and beloved blockbusters (Jaws, Jurassic Park). As of this week, the concession stand is back up and running… but you’ll have to use the takeout window.

59 Green Mountain E, Stoney Creek, premiertheatres.ca/starlite

@normwilner

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new dates for the Together At The Drive-In Festival. 

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