With COVID restrictions still limiting our options for entertainment, we set off to find upcoming events around the country that are easily accessible for those with cars. Some of these events feature a drive-thru or drive-in format, making them safe to enjoy while keeping your distance from others.
Imagine Van Gogh (March 19 - August 29)
The immersive Van Gogh art tour is making its way across the country, and those in Vancouver are now able to attend. While the drive-thru format existed for other cities, the event has returned to a more traditional format, though with social distancing and other health measures in place.
The Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival (May 8–9, 15–16)
Imagine the fast food drive-thru experience except with a greater selection of food options, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how this food truck festival works. Now in Chilliwack and Abbotsford, guests can drive up to their food truck of choice, make their order, and enjoy their meal from the safety and comfort of their own ride.
Those craving a movie night out can jump into their car and head over to the Twilight Drive-In, which features the latest movies. Tickets must be purchased online, and the gates to the theatre open 30 minutes before showtime. Those with limited space to lounge in their car are allowed to use lawn chairs directly in front of their vehicle, but not beside it.
A pair of international foreign-language films are on the docket for this drive-in screening including the premiere of Spycies, an animated film about “two secret agents that are trying to recover a top-secret material stolen by unknown intruders.” The festival also includes a screening of Let Life Be Beautiful, “the story of Wang Xinyang, whose life is dramatically changed by an unexpected event. Facing an unknown future, Xinyang stays optimistic and strives to realize his dreams.”
St. Albert Rotary RibFest 2021 Drive Thru (June 11–13)
Ribfest drive-through style! This city-approved RibFest is raising funds for causes supported by the Rotary Club of St. Albert.
Cruise 2 the Coast: Calgary–Vancouver (June 25–26) and Lake Country Lollapalooza: Calgary–Kelowna (July 31 – August 1)
The folks at Justice Road Rallies have a pair of cruises that start in Calgary. One heads to Vancouver, while the other goes to Kelowna. The registration fee includes JRR swag, decals, photos and if restrictions allow for it, a drag strip, among other fun perks. Car enthusiasts should keep their eyes open for these events.
Grey Eagle Drive-In (May 21, 28)
While the Grey Eagle Casino is currently closed, the hotel does have a pretty impressive drive-in event schedule, including Hotel California – The Original Tribute to the Eagles on Friday, May 21, and Men Without Hats on Friday, May 28.
Wonder in the Park: The Nature of Art! (May, June)
This is a fun recurring event taking place every Sunday in May and every Saturday in June encouraging families to spend some time outdoors and make some art from nature. Best of all, it’s free, and in the heart of Saskatoon.
Daily Drop-in Programs at Wanuskewin Heritage Park (Until May 23)
The Wanuskewin Heritage Park is still open, with strict COVID protocols including group size limits and mandatory masks. The park offers a ton of programs and tours with a different schedule every day of the week from Wednesday to Sunday. The park’s spring programming runs until May 23.
Signs of Spring Birding Tour (Until May 28)
Birdwatching has become pretty popular through the pandemic, so how about taking a three-hour drive with a guide from Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation who will point out migratory birds returning to nest around Saskatoon. Although this particular tour runs until the end of May, the organization offers many other programs throughout the year.
Let’s Roam is a self-guided scavenger hunt app, and there are tons of tours in major Canadian cities. The Saskatoon hunt explores “the epic sculptures, cultural attractions, and the tranquil South Saskatchewan River,” and answers a few odd questions like “What piece of trash became the gateway to River Landing?" or "How did jealously lead to building the Bessborough Hotel?”
Here’s another Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, this time taking participants through the capital of Manitoba. Those looking to learn the culture and history of Winnipeg as well as explore the art of the city should check out this scavenger hunt.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is open, with requisite measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. There’s plenty to see at Qaumajuq, an innovative new museum dedicated to Inuit art and culture, which is connected to the WAG. Admission to the WAG and Qaumajuq is free on the second Sunday of every month; currently, visitors are required to book their tickets online in advance.
The Assiniboine Park is open including the zoo. Among the highlights is Aunt Sally’s Farm, which features a zoo for kids to watch and learn about various animals found on modern farms.
While museums and festivals are currently closed in Ontario, these self-guided scavenger hunts can help you discover new aspects of the history, culture, green spaces, and art of your own city.
Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival (May 1–31)
The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival features exhibitions and outdoor installations for you to check out around the Greater Toronto Area. Some exhibits are only available on certain dates or at specific hours, so be sure to check out the website to confirm the location and times. The festival also features virtual exhibitions that you can view online.
Those looking to get out of the GTA may want to head over to the Kawartha Settlers’ Village, which is expected to open this summer on June 1. The village has 20 historic homes and buildings and allows visitors to experience what life was like for pioneers and early settlers.
Another highlight outside of the GTA is the Ken Reid Conservation Area. In addition to the typical outdoor activities, a guided experience called The Talking Forest for visitors with Android phones (an iOS app is in the works) offers up fun facts, history, and points of interest along a 2.2-km trail.
Those in our nation’s capital can check out the local art scene with this handy map to the street art, murals, and graffiti found in Ottawa–Gatineau.
Why not try a scavenger hunt of Quebec’s largest city? This Let’s Roam tour will exhibit the area’s architecture, parks, culture, and history.
Another interesting option is Portrait Sonore, which features audio guides and documentary-style podcasts to listen to while you walk through a selection of parks and outdoor areas. There are six to listen to within Quebec, including episodes on Montreal’s modern architecture and design, the Montreal 1967 World’s Fair, a tour of 15 public works of art in Parc Jean-Drapeau, and Quebec’s Parliament Hill.
While the Imagine Van Gogh exhibit is featured on the West Coast, Quebec will get its taste of a new art exhibit this summer. As the name suggests, this exhibit focuses on the work of Picasso. Register to get the first heads-up when tickets are available.
SAT Fest 2021 (April 27 – June 19)
The Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) has a unique film festival going on, allowing visitors to watch a variety of videos in the 360-degree Satosphere. While an indoor event, the staff are ensuring the event is safe for visitors, with mandatory face masks and health screenings as well as frequent cleaning.
La Fréquence | Drive-in musical (May 8)
An outdoor drive-in electronic music festival, the organizers of La Fréquence have combined two events into one, set to kick off on May 8. The event is held over at the La Ronde amusement park and is only available to those in cars.
Those in Saint John, New Brunswick can try this scavenger hunt, which walks through the history and hidden lore of this Atlantic City.
Atlantic Ballet by the Ocean (July 7–31)
For something truly unique, you can watch some ballet by the ocean, performed by the Atlantic Ballet of Canada. Those interested can book now or register for more information when the summer performances begin in July.
Dandelion Music Fest (May 22)
If you’re after some live music, the Dandelion Music Festival is promising to be a good time. Enjoy music from the Carla Bonnell Band, Darin Quinn & Paul Macintosh, the Cathy Hutch Band, The Stratified and Hazzard.
Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts (July 7–18)
This July, the Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts celebrates its 10th anniversary. The event starts with a fun-filled showcase at Shining Waters Marina, and will feature live musical entertainment, refreshments, canapes, “Takeaway” artwork displays, and a special project exhibit called “Pieces of Eight: Art Treasure.” Later in the festival, there will be a three-day plein-air painting event with 40 artists participating, in the village of Peggy’s Cove. The artworks produced will be offered for sale, while demonstrations by local artisans and a children’s art tent will help to offer a variety of free creative activities. Additionally, there will be a studio tour where over 60 studio artists, galleries, and art groups will welcome visitors through their doors.
Father’s Day Antique Car Show Promenade (June 20)
Details of this Father’s Day event have yet to be finalized, though organizers are hard at work to ensure a fun and safe program. Visitors are encouraged to subscribe to the Memory Lane Heritage Village mailing list to stay abreast of the latest news.
Drive-In Nights Concert: Bon Jovi (May 22)
Live music is alive and well in PEI, where a Bon Jovi concert is scheduled at The Runway Drive-In. To be clear, Jon Bon Jovi isn’t going to be there, but the show will be recorded live and broadcast at outdoor venues like the Runway Drive-In.
Those in PEI can also head over to the Brackley Drive-In to get their cinematic fix from the comfort and safety of their car. There’s a decent selection of movies to choose from, which rotate throughout the season.
Looking for actual live music? Musical acts at the Trailside Music Hall this summer include Paper Lions, Gordie Sampson, and Lennie Gallant.
There are a pair of shows scheduled at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre, which may be of interest to those in Newfoundland. On May 14, you can catch LadyLike, a country music act that made its debut in March and is starting its tour in Newfoundland. On May 21 you can hear Eastern Owl, an Indigenous-led all-nations group of women. Their style blends the styles of First Nations drum music and contemporary folk to create their innovative sound. The Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre is promising a safe environment by only selling tickets in every second row and maintaining three empty seats between bubbles. The venue capacity is limited to just 100, and masks are mandatory. Tickets must be bought online.
Those who want to shop local can head to the St. John’s Farmers Market every Saturday at 245 Freshwater Road. There’s a long list of vendors that changes weekly, so be sure to head to the site to get more details of what will be offered when you show up.
Take a scavenger hunt around town, and see the best views of the city. A perfect afternoon for newcomers to the province and long-time residents alike, the interactive self-guided program lets players go at their own pace.