Jun 3, 2020 - Things to Do

How a pandemic brought back the drive-in (and not just for movies)

Charlotte Motor Speedway movie night

Charlotte Motor Speedway has its TV set up for movie night (courtesy Charlotte Motor Speedway).

In the age of social distancing, old-school entertainment is coming back: specifically, drive-in activities.

It’s not just movies, though. In the coming weeks, events in Charlotte include drive-in concerts and art exhibits, too.

Before the pandemic I’d never been to any drive-in event but now the idea excites me. In a time when staying at home is getting old, but social distancing is still important, these drive-ins feel like a happy medium.


Movie theaters and other entertainment venues are closed during phase two. However, drive-in theaters, which allow viewers to stay in their own cars, are fair game.

The Charlotte area already has a few permanent drive-in theaters, including Badin Road Drive-In in Albemarle and Hounds Drive-In in Kings Mountain. Both have reopened. Hounds is playing a double feature this weekend.

There are also opportunities to see drive-in movies in Charlotte as a part of special socially-distant events.

Charlotte Motor Speedway is hosting a movie night with the Charlotte Rescue Mission to raise money for the mission’s recovery programs.

Despicable Me is playing Saturday night and Soul Surfer is playing Sunday night. Both nights are $100 per vehicle, additional donations are optional.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas movie
Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Christmas drive-in movie event (courtesy Charlotte Motor Speedway).

Art Exhibits

Goodyear Arts is hosting a “Joyride” June 6 and 7.  Joyride is an exhibit set up for participants to drive through different art installations in their cars. Audience members will hear exhibits with sound using their phones.

The event is sold out but there is an option to donate and join the waitlist.


Marc Rebillet, an electronic musician and YouTuber, is on a multi-city drive-in tour. He’s coming to the Hounds Drive-In for a concert Thursday, June 11. Tickets for the Hounds show are sold out.

Hounds is also hosting Bert Kreischer’s Hot Summer Nights comedy show June 24. About 50 tickets are left.

The Music Yard is hosting a summer drive-in concert series starting June 12. It’ll include different artists each Friday through the end of July. Concerts are 21 and up and will go from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Attendees will have the option to either watch the show from their car or sit outside at a socially distanced table.

Other artists including Keith Urban, DJ D-Nice, and The Dave Matthews Band have also held drive-in concerts during the pandemic. It’s possible these types of concerts gain popularity as social distancing remains a priority in the coming months.

[Related Agenda story: Charlotte’s music scene is “in the emergency room”]


You don’t have to wait for an event planner to create your own drive-in. Over the last few weeks I’ve really enjoyed drive-in dates where my boyfriend and I get takeout, park in a scenic area, and eat in the car. It’s pretty basic, I know, but I’ve really enjoyed it.

Price's car picnic
I picked up fried fish and shrimp from Price’s Chicken Coop. 

There are also multiple examples of friends meeting up and hanging out in their separate cars and listening to music together or grabbing food or just getting some needed human interaction.

Six months ago many of us wouldn’t have dreamed of calling sitting in a car with the radio on fun, but if nothing else, we’re learning to adapt and appreciate the simple things.

[Related Agenda story: Weekday Planner: 14 quarantine-approved things to do this week in Charlotte]

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