Drive-in events have become a familiar sight over the last couple of months, with outdoor event organisers across the UK staging film screenings, musical performances and more from the safety of their vehicles.

Guildford-based Peachy Productions has thrown its hat in the ring with Peachy Playhouse, which has been hosting live music, theatre and cinema in Loseley Park throughout July. Peachy Productions Managing Director Philip French says the event has benefitted from being fixed to one location – Live Nation’s travelling drive-in series was recently cancelled due to fears over localised lockdowns.

Peachy Playhouse hosted a distanced gig by The Ambassadors on 23 July

“We’re just going to pick one location, and do it as well as we possibly can,” says French. “It’s enabled us to start understanding what our customers really want.”

What customers want, according to French, is more than just turning up to a drive-in movie and leaving. “People say they want to turn up and not just feel like the drive-in is the whole experience. We want people to come and have dinner at a table in their socially distanced pens, followed by a movie or a show.”

Adding value is important because, as French concedes, “pop-up cinemas are dime a dozen at the moment, but there’s only so many films you’d want to watch.” So how can the drive-in template be adapted?


A very Covid Christmas

French says that once Peachy Playhouse comes to an end on 31 July, the company’s next big project will be thinking about how the drive-in template can be applied to Christmas and corporate outdoor events.

French says: “We need to build people’s confidence back to return to events. We’re looking at Christmas as our next one, and how we can deliver socially distanced Christmas events using the lessons we’ve learned from the drive-in scenario.

“We’re looking at it for corporate conferences and corporate events – if you put a large marquee over the top, suddenly you’ve got a drive-in environment. They can park their cars and walk into their distanced pens. Then you can deliver conferences or award ceremonies safely as well. It’s a safer environment to be outdoors.”

These events aren’t without their challenges, however: “The cost of the infrastructure for distanced events is much higher, including all the cleaning, and the number of tickets we can sell is much lower. The country as a whole is paranoid about losing jobs and money, so it’s very difficult to explain to them that we have to charge a higher ticket price to cover the additional infrastructure costs and also the Covid requirement costs that are necessary in order to go ahead safely.”

“Many people have got their minds into that lockdown mode, and it takes a big yank to get them away from that mindset and remember what it was like prior to the pandemic.”