If we have to say farewell to summer, the send off better be fabulous.
Enter Diner en Blanc DC.
Started in Paris in 1988, Diner en Blanc is a beautifully extravagant public picnic that now takes place across the world annually. This year, Diner en Blanc returned to DC for its fourth time and happened to land on the last weekend in August, making it the very perfect time to get decked out in white and drink a lot of rosé.
The sold out event, which drew a crowd of over 4,000 people, entirely took over a section of Pennsylvania avenue, with the U.S. Capitol building serving as a very fitting backdrop.
How does it work? Getting in is tough. Registration for this unique event happens in three stages: Phase 1 is for members who attended the previous year; Phase 2 is for new members who are referred by Phase 1 attendees; and Phase 3 is for people who signed up on the waiting list. That wait list has tens of thousands of names on it.
But if you’re one of the lucky ones that get a spot, don’t expect to know where you’re going until the very last minute. Diner en Blanc takes place at a surprise location every year. Guests gather at a centralized meeting spot, and then are given directions to their end destination about an hour before the festivities begin.
Diner en Blanc isn’t just a name, it’s a rule. The dress code for the event is strictly white, but the more imaginative the outfit the better. Highlights included a diner with an entirely glitter bedazzled beard, someone wearing angel wings, and several actual wedding gowns.
The all white rule carries over to table settings and decorations. All linens, dishware and dining accessories must match the picnic’s monochromatic theme. But that’s where uniformity stops. Every table setting is designed by the diners themselves and it’s obvious that everyone shows up to outdo their neighbors. Table settings range from candles, to signs, to fully constructed lighting fixtures and awnings.
Diners can bring whatever they choose for booze and dinner- I saw everything from Whole Foods takeout boxes to full blown steak dinners. But for first time in Diner en Blanc DC history, this year’s event partnered with a celebrity chef to provide food options to guests. This year’s picnic baskets we carefully curated by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2016 Restaurateur of the Year, Mike Isabella.
According to the Diner en Blanc DC website, “Isabella developed each menu to satisfy 4,500 palettes and meet all types of dietary restrictions including gluten-free and vegetarian options. Isabella used influences and ingredients from his 10 restaurant concepts, which feature French, Italian, Spanish, Asian, Mexican, Moroccan, and Mediterranean cuisines. Each picnic is a dinner for two and is served in a reusable, insulated, white Diner en Blanc logo’d tote.”
Once the sun goes down, each diner takes out a sparkler, and the whole party lights up. After the sparklers, a live DJ took the event from beautiful picnic, to one great dance party.
This event is the best thing I’ve done in DC all summer, and I can’t recommend it enough. Visit Diner en Blanc DC’s official website to learn more about how to attend next summer!