Social distancing helped revive an old classic, making it an unlikely fan favourite

It’s only October but we’re calling it: Drive-in events are one of the biggest – and probably the most unexpected – live event trend this year (outside of online/virtual events, which are a whole other story).

One of the first in-person event formats to return after lockdown – perfectly designed to socially distance pods of people from one another – was the venerable drive-in. Back in June, we first noticed that we had already hosted more than a thousand drive-in events on Eventbrite in 2020 – far more than in previous years. We thought that was impressive, but weren’t sure whether this trend would continue.

Fast forward to October, and it turns out it did – and then some. As the Covid-pandemic progressed, many regions around the globe continued to impose various restrictions on in-person events, further fueling the boom of drive-in events with built-in social distancing. The outcome so far: As of October 15, Eventbrite has hosted or is scheduled to host more than 8,000 drive-in events around the globe in 2020, nearly 13 times as many as in 2019 – and the year isn’t even over yet.

Drive-in in the UK

In the UK, the number of drive-in events has grown to more than 600 since the start of the year – more than ten times as many as last year. And this unprecedented supply is met with demand from consumers who are yearning to get out of their houses – and away from TV and computer screens: as of October 15, ‘drive-in movie’ is the single most searched for term on Eventbrite UK in 2020 (closely followed by ‘outdoor cinema’ and ‘open air cinema’).

And while more than three quarters of those UK drive-in events are indeed cinemas, event creators are getting more creative with this event format. The current selection of automotively distanced events on Eventbrite includes comedy shows, live concerts, drive-in fitness classes, and – as Halloween approaches – scary drive-in experiences.

Granted, 2020 isn’t over yet, and if nothing else this year continues to surprise everyone. But drive-in events represent such an impressive comeback story that we find it hard to believe that any other event trend will come close to it before the year is out.

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