How to host outdoor movie nights in your backyard

The Toronto Outdoor Picture Show is launching a COVID-safe program called the Toronto Backyard Picture Show

Toronto Outdoor Picture Show (TOPS) is launching a COVID-friendly experience this summer called the Toronto Backyard Picture Show, or Tiny TOPS, that allows people to rent out a projector kit for pandemic-safe outdoor movie nights.

TOPS, which has been hosting outdoor movie screenings in Toronto parks since 2011, changed up their programming last summer to accommodate COVID-19 rules. They hosted a 10-day open-air film festival with 100-person limits as per provincial pandemic guidelines.

But with Ontario’s stay-at-home order likely to be extended into June, it’s looking like it will be a while before large gatherings are allowed – and in the before-times TOPS screenings could attract more than 500 attendees.

This year, TOPS is preparing for a summer of physical distancing by bringing personalized outdoor movie nights to your backyard. People can rent a kit that includes a screen, projector, Bluetooth speakers, all the cables necessary for connection and a user guide to host an outdoor movie night.

TOPS doesn’t provide a media player, a movie or a power source – so what you watch is up to you. (We have plenty of suggestions if you need any movie ideas.)

There are two sizes of kits available: one is a 100-inch projector screen that requires a 10-foot distance for $195 and the other is approximately 55 inches and requires a 6-foot distance for $175.

Bookings are now open for the weekend of May 21, May 28 and June 4, and renters will have the kits for a four-day window from Friday to Tuesday in case of bad weather.

Under Ontario’s current stay-at-home order, outdoor or indoor gatherings of any number – except with people of your own household – are prohibited.

However, experts have projected that with increasing vaccination efforts and a slow decline in case numbers, the province will likely be able to open up more for the summer.


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