A free retro drive-in movie and drag show experience is coming to an airport runway in Toronto


Published June 6, 2024 at 1:48 pm

runway reels toronto

A drive-in movie and drag experience is happening soon at a very unexpected venue: an airport runway. The best part is, it’s totally free.

Runway Reels: A Retro Outdoor Film Affair is being put on in association with Drag Me to the Movies and Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival as an official Pride Toronto affiliate event. It’s happening at the Downsview Airport runway, as part of the transformation of the 370-acre Downsview Airport Lands into an arts and culture hub.

The affair will involve retro movie screenings, drag shows and DJs, with a view in the background of the sunset and the city skyline.

Runway Reels will be hosted by Weird Alice. The first night will include a drag performance by Babia Majora, music from Rose Hips, and a screening of Wayne’s World. The second night will feature Canada’s Drag Race competitor Bombae, a screening of Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, and DJs The Frandiscos. Both nights will start with screenings of short films curated by Inside Out Film Festival.

For each night, gates open at 7 p.m., drag performances will be at 8 p.m., and screenings start at 9 p.m. There will also be an on-site market with local vendors like Eyesore Cinema, DMTTM Merch and Alysia Myette Fanny Packs.

“Drag Me to the Movies is excited to drag you to the Downsview Airport runway for Runway Reels, with two queer comedies you know and love,” says Weird Alice, host of Runway Reels, in a press release. “We’ll be bringing the drag and the camp – and we hope that you’ll be bringing the laughs and the tips.”

You can drive in or walk in to the event, you just have to bring your own seating. While the event is free, reservations are required to ensure capacity limits.

Northcrest Developments is redeveloping the Downsview Airport Lands into a series of neighbourhoods, and wants to embed culture into the area. They’ve put out a “Beyond the Tarmac” open call for submissions with up to $100,000 in funding available for artists, creatives, programmers and event producers to reimagine the 600-metre taxiway leading to the runway. Applications are open until June 20.

“We see the two-kilometre runway as a limitless canvas for creative expression and community gathering,” says Mitchell Marcus, Northcrest executive director of site activation and programming, in a press release.

“I continue to be inspired by the raw, creative potential of our industrial site, and Runway Reels presents a unique opportunity to work alongside leading 2SLGBTQ+ organizations Drag Me to the Movies and Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival to bring people together to celebrate Pride Month and Toronto’s amazing diversity, local talent and artists.”

Runway Reels takes place at the Downsview Airport Lands on June 21 and 22.