Diner en Blanc returns to Vancouver: Dine al fresco with 4,500 friends, Aug 25

Photo credit: Rick Chung | Flickr

Photo credit: Rick Chung | Flickr

Vancouver’s biggest fancy picnic is back.

Diner en Blanc returns this Aug. 25 for its fourth Vancouver instalment. This year, the al fresco dining event will see 4,500 people dressed entirely in white converge on a secret location for the mother-of-all picnics. Guests bring their own white chairs and folding tables and white tablecloths, as well as their own picnic baskets with self-catered dinners packed inside.

The event prides itself on elegance, courtly sophistication and – above all – selectivity. While tickets aren’t all that expensive ($37), getting one is nearly impossible. You generally have to either know an organizer or past attendee. Rumour has it that the waiting list to be considered for a ticket is tens of thousands of names long. 

Photo Credit: Maurice Li | Flickr

Photo Credit: Maurice Li | Flickr

Previous Diners en Blanc in Vancouver have made a huge splash.  In 2012, a “diner” was staged at Jack Poole Plaza at the Vancouver Convention Centre, drawing 1,200 guests. In 2013, 2,600 diners in white took over the grassy park in front of Science World on False Creek, while 3,500 people packed the same spot in 2014. The location for this year’s event is, of course, a secret: Attendees will only find out on the day of the dinner.

The concept for Diner en Blanc originated in Paris more than a quarter-century ago and has spread to cities around the world. It seeks to evoke the bygone glamour of European courtly life (when, apparently, thousands of people would just spontaneously picnic together).

Photo credit: Maurice Li | Flickr

Photo credit: Maurice Li | Flickr

Organizers describe the event in this way: “A night of culture, grandeur, and stately elegance. An evening beckoning to those desiring a unique moment of class and tradition.” In addition, they say it’s a way to bring Vancouver’s “disconnected” population together: “With a population so diverse it is a challenge to unite the citizens of this glorious city for even a single occasion (Canada Day withstanding). Truth be told, there is nothing that brings the different people of Vancouver together particularly well …”

Once they arrive at the secret location, guests arrange themselves into long tables, with men seated on one side and women on the other, as per Diner en Blanc rules. (It’s worth noting that people tend get very dressed up for the event, donning everything from white tuxes and elegant white gowns to togas and party dresses.) The evening often starts with everyone flourishing white napkins before sitting down to eat.

Photo credit: Maurice Li | Flickr

Photo credit: Maurice Li | Flickr

Diners who prefer not to pack their own meals can also pick up specially catered dinners before the event, prepared by local chefs.  Wine can be purchased at the event (but not brought in) and keeps the evening flowing nicely. Live bands provide a musical backdrop to the fancy, al fresco meal.  Sparklers are often handed out at dusk, turning the scene into a sea of glittering colour.

Want to be a part of the magic and elegance of Diner en Blanc? You may be out of luck this year. But you can add yourself to the 30,000-plus-name waiting list here.

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One Response to Diner en Blanc returns to Vancouver: Dine al fresco with 4,500 friends, Aug 25

  1. sigh..

    wow.. .the elitist event is back?? no surprise, since Vancouverites who attend this are the snotty elitists in this city who have to go to such events to show how special they are.

    As you have stated in your article, ” While tickets aren’t all that expensive ($37), getting one is nearly impossible. You generally have to either know an organizer or past attendee”, and “Want to be a part of the magic and elegance of Diner en Blanc? You may be out of luck this year. But you can add yourself to the 30,000-plus-name waiting list here” — what is the point of mentioning it??

    It’s an elitist event for Vancouverites who need to make themselves feel special for no reason.

    The original event that started in France, was not set up like this… . in fact, it was much more open, but let’s leave it to Vancouverites to change it from what it originally was and make it the socially elite event, it now is …

    urghh.. way to ruin another thing from another part of the world!!