Coronavirus: How drive-in raves and cinemas will work in the UK

By Annabel Rackham
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDrive-in cinema events could be the solution to finding entertainment this summer

What comes to mind when you think of drive-in cinemas?

It might be memories of watching Danny and Sandy's date night in Grease or something more modern, like scenes from Netflix series Riverdale.

But the chances are you've never been to one as it's something that's never really taken off in the UK.

That could be set to change, however, as the events industry looks at new ways to keep us entertained during the coronavirus pandemic.

Social distancing has put a stop to some things we love like gigs and trips to the cinema, but some companies are looking at how to be creative - by setting up drive-in events to make the most of the summer weather.

Henley Festival has been replaced with a three day drive-in and there are movies and raves already planned for the summer.

'I'd definitely recommend a drive-in rave'

In France and Germany people have sat in their cars to be part of church services in car parks.

And in the German town of Schuttorf the first drive-in rave happened in front of 500 people.

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Pia Hofener, 20, was one of those who attended the rave in the car park of Club Index.

She said it was "funny at the beginning" to dance in her car and took a while to get used to.

"We arrived at 6.30pm to be one of the first into the rave," Pia tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"We were pointed to our parking space and had to broadcast the music through our own car radio.

"It was really fun because we got to meet new friends and before the DJ set started, we could choose different music to listen to like German chart hits, latin and hip-hop.

"Then when it started, there were different acts, dancers and light shows - I'd definitely recommend it," she says.

image copyrightPia Hofener
image captionPia was one of the 500 people who attended a car rave in Germany

Steffan Chelland is an events organiser who wants to bring the same concept to the UK.

He hopes to have raves up and running by July and is waiting for the government to enter the second stage of lifting restrictions for this to happen.

"One of the greatest challenges we faced from the beginning is how do you make a good customer experience when you're limited in pretty much every single way compared to a normal rave," Steffan tells Newsbeat.

"We're going down a heavily production-oriented route - pyrotechnics, CO2 jets, fireworks, lasers, LED walls, and light shows, which go above and beyond what you would experience in your average club setting."

Steffan says it's important to have these events, especially with festival season being cancelled in the UK.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionSteffan says with festival season cancelled, people need something to look forward to

"Live music is such a part of people's normality and important for their wellbeing and mental health because of the socialising aspect," he says.

"That end of the week release when you go out is so important and it's suddenly been stripped away - so if we can bring something in which works and is in a socially distanced fashion, then why not?"

But if raving in your Fiat doesn't appeal, perhaps watching movies from the front seat of your car might.

Alan Crofton is a festival director, but after all his events were cancelled this year he decided to work on something new - a drive-in cinema with several locations across the UK.

"We came up with the idea just to get our staff back working and put on a bit of a project," he tells Newsbeat.

"The response we've had has been incredible - 35,000 people signed up in just a couple of days.

"I think people are quite nervous about coming out of lockdown in terms of what they can and can't do so we're trying to create a really comfortable, safe experience."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDrive-in events are more popular in the US but are being brought in to the UK

His company has been working with local councils in places including Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and London to make sure social distancing remains in place.

All food will have to be pre-ordered or bought on a special app and tickets will be registered under car registration plates so people can come straight into the venue.

Toilets are an issue and Alan says queuing systems will be in place like at supermarkets with people keeping a two-metre distance.

As lockdown restrictions ease, ministers in Northern Ireland have said drive-in cinema and music events are now ready to go ahead - with England expected to follow in a few weeks.

"I think within the events industry and festival industry, people are generally creative, we are working in that kind of environment all the time," Alan says.

"So I think what we'll see is many people pivoting and changing what they used to do and coming out with new and creative ways of doing things."

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