Edmontonians dress in white for annual Diner en Blanc

Posted by on Saturday, July 30th, 2016 at 3:04pm.

Living is Edmonton is about as cosmopolitan as you can get, starting with the annual Diner en Blanc held recently on July 28.

The outdoor event started 30 years ago in Paris and is now held in hundreds of cities around the world.  Diner en Blanc is an elegant outdoor picnic where the guests wear white from head to toe and dine en masse in a very public spot, the location of which isn’t revealed until the very last minute.

The July 28, 2016 dinner was the third one held in Edmonton, this year popping up at 104 Street and 102 Avenue downtown and 2,000 people showed up to this highly fashionable gathering.  There were 1,500 guests at last year’s edition.

By the time the dinner location is revealed, the invited guest who have either brought their own elegant picnic basket or purchased a box meal and wine selections in advance, are already sitting on buses hired for the evening which they reserved online.  Guest must also bring their own table of a specific size with two white fold-up chairs. For those who wanted to walk-in, there were varies muster points along walking routes to the venue.  Everyone wears white, from simple sun dresses or t-shirts and white pants to more formal white attire complete with hats you might see at a Royal gathering.  Stores all over town sell out of white shoes and white clutch bags for women.

Every year there are organizing committees and this year, ID Bohemia which is an Edmonton event-planning and décor company was one of the Diner en Blanc organizers.  The 2015 dinner was held in Churchill Square downtown and the year before that, it was at Louis McKinney Riverfront Park.

The event is more than just a fancy picnic.  There’s a stage with performers, art installations around the perimeter of the picnic space, roving entertainers and other points of interest. Some folks go all out with silver candelabras, flowers and white china.

The event goes rain or shine and white umbrellas were called upon the first year the event was held in Edmonton and last year, the picnic wasn’t scheduled until September when it was a bit too cool for outdoor dining.

White the event is open to the public, the previous year’s guests, or members, have first dibs on tickets.  If previous participants don’t register on the event website using the invitation code sent to them by email, spots go back into the larger pool for folks on the wait list to grab. 

Diner en Blanc by the numbers

  • 2014 was the first year of the event and 1,150 people came. 2015 there were 1500 and 2016 there were 2,000.
  • Organizers hired 13 buses which met at 3 locations throughout the city to take people downtown.  There were 5 muster points within walking distance.
  • In 2015 there were 542 box meals ordered which means two thirds of people brought their own picnic.
  • Last year nearly 600 bottles of wine were opened, including champagne, red and white wines.
  • In 2015 1,700 sparklers were given to guest at the end of the evening.

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