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The Joy of the Wellfleet Drive-in: Cape Cod’s Classic Moviegoing Experience

Written by Laura M. Reckford

PROVINCETOWN – Leave it to the Provincetown Film Festival to remind us the nostalgic joy of the drive in. 

With the pandemic restrictions receding but some still on guard about being in close quarters with strangers, the 23rd Annual Provincetown Film Festival held their opening feature, the joyous Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In The Heights,” at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theater.

The scene at the Wellfleet Drive-In just before showtime at opening night of the Provincetown Film Festival.

The scene was like a reunion of Outer Cape friends, as car after car packed the parking lot, and hugs, like the kind you give to a long-lost friend, were in abundance. People brought their children and dogs—pooches allowed is another advantage to drive-ins—loaded up on popcorn at the snack bar and tuned their car radios to 89.5 to hear the soundtrack.

The Wellfleet Drive-In is the last drive-in on Cape Cod and apparently one of only 300 left in the country.

This being the Provincetown Film Festival, Daniel Llata, who doubles as the Provincetown Town Crier, dressed in his old time movie usher outfit, was making the rounds, greeting and posing for photos. Before the film started, he was given a volunteer award for his years of dressing up and bringing the joy of old time movies to the Provincetown Film Festival.

A full house at Wellfleet Drive-In for a showing of “In The Heights.”

The Wellfleet Drive-In has been around since 1957, a staple entertainment option for Outer Cape summer visitors, but now it became a way for people to feel comfortable gathering again.

The movie, “In The Heights,” is exceptional—the singing!, the dancing!—especially for those who love a good musical, but the experience offered by the Provincetown Film Festival on the opening night of the 10-day festival was more about announcing that going to the movies, a communal experience that cannot be replaced by television, is back.

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For more coverage of the Provincetown Film Festival, this year and in past years, click HERE.

Cape Cod Wave Magazine covers the character & culture of Cape Cod. Please see our Longform stories.

About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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