Eventbrite sees 300% increase in number of drive-in events listed for April

With restrictions still in force on many activities until 17 May, it looks like drive-in events are set to explode in popularity again this spring and summer.

Ticketing and event platform Eventbrite saw a 300% increase in drive-in events listed from March to April as this type of event is among the first allowed to resume again after 12 April – and ticket sales are ramping up for May too.

It’s not just drive-in cinema that’s on the agenda either, but drive-in church services, bingo, karaoke and comedy.

“We noticed last year that in most months the terms ‘drive-in’ and ‘outdoor cinemas’ were the most searched-for event formats on our site,” said Sebastian Boppert, an Eventbrite spokesperson. “They’re becoming increasingly popular again now; we may even hit peak drive-in this summer, as people look to get out and about again.”

One creator on Eventbrite, Gerald Hayford, Regional Events Manager at CH Cinema said: “We have 250 drive-in events planned between April and December 2021, as they were so successful last year.  In fact, they’re going that well that in some venues we are installing permanent screens.  

“We make the experiences exciting. For example, we improve on the usual cinema experience by asking people to get dressed up and introducing initiatives like a sing-off-challenge from the cars, using disposable mics, with other drivers having to beep their horns for the best singers.

“There are other types of events we hold too, such as in-car karaoke, comedy and bingo so there’s something for every taste as we come out of lockdown.  It really supports local businesses, too.  Last year, we launched the ‘Watch Out to Help Out’ scheme; so the venue gets income through the hire and local restaurants can get revenue from supplying the food and drink.”

Last summer, when lockdown restrictions were temporarily eased and some in-person events were allowed again, drive-in quickly became the event phenomenon of 2020 (next to online events).

Between March and December 2020, the number of drive-in events on ticketing and events platform Eventbrite grew more than 50-fold, with over 2,000 drive-in events for more than 125,000 people. Drive-in cinema events were consistently, month after month, the most searched for event type on Eventbrite in the UK last year. Curiously, ‘peak drive-in’ wasn’t during the summer, but in the run up to Christmas in December, when Eventbrite registered close to 50,000 people attend around 1,000 events in the comfort of their vehicles.

Renewed restrictions after Christmas put a pause on drive-in events, but given the growth of this event format in 2020, Eventbrite believe it’s reasonable to expect another explosion in drive-in events of all kinds this spring and summer.

Interestingly, only just over a fifth of the drive-in events on Eventbrite last year were screenings; creative creators not only offered cinema, but also church services, live concerts, comedy shows and even fitness classes.

“Drive-in events are perfect for those people who want to cautiously come out of lockdown, enjoying entertainment, with the very clear social distancing measures that come from being in your own vehicle.” said Eventbrite’s Sebastian Boppert. 

He adds: “August used to be our busiest month for drive-in events, but there’s been an explosion in events listed and demand is picking up as our creators list events that will get bored people looking to get out and about again while staying safe.”

Drive-in events have also kept businesses going during lockdown, by pivoting into the sector.  Another Eventbrite creator, Craig Jones, Director at Shine Cinema said: ““We normally rent our equipment direct to event organisers but, when they closed, we diversified and moved into the drive-in market. We did four events last year and have six planned for this year.  Our first event in Worcester will offer six screenings over the weekend 16 to 18 April and will have three shows for children through the day and three in the evening for old kids and adults, with lots of food and drink to order from your car.  It’s perfect family entertainment in a safe environment, with COVID-19 measures in place to ensure the safety of our customers.”

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