Diner en Blanc is a formal summer outdoor dinner event in Vancouver where thousands of people dress up in white and dine together at a secret location.
It’s like a massive ultra-fancy picnic where participants bring their own table, chairs, food, cutlery and dishes.
The Diner en Blanc Outdoor Dining Event
Diner en Blanc is an event that takes place in around six dozen cities around the world. The Vancouver edition has been running since 2011 and usually takes place in August. Participants register in advance and as many as 4,500 participants turn out.
The location for Diner en Blanc remains a secret until just before the event. At that time registered guests receive notification, grab their stuff and then head to their dinner location.
In 2016 the Vancouver event was held at Concord Pacific Place near BC Place Stadium and False Creek, and the year before it was at Canada Place. In 2017 it was at two locations in Coal Harbour – at Harbour Green Park and Devonian Park. In 2018 it was at VanDusen Garden. In 2019 it was at George Wainburn Park. In 2021 it’s at …, well, it’s unlikely that anyone will know until the day of!
How Does Diner en Blanc Work?
To participate in Diner en Blanc you have to apply, pay a membership fee, and register for the dinner most years. If you register, attendance is mandatory, regardless of the weather. If you don’t show up one year (even if it’s raining), then don’t expect to attend again in the future.
Registered guests meet at a given time at a designated location with their chairs, table and picnics. From there they head en masse to their secret venue via public transit (like the SkyTrain or SeaBus) or by chartered bus. Attire must be formal and all white.
Picnic materials need to include two white chairs, a square-shaped folding table, gourmet picnic delicacies (of any colour) and a white tablecloth. Participants also need to bring a garbage bag (for their post-dinner trash and leftovers), plus their own utensils, dishes and drinking glasses.
Registration for Diner en Blanc is always for two people, which is why the list includes the mandatory two chairs.
Guests are not permitted to bring their own alcoholic beverages. They may, however, purchase wine at the event (but ordered a few days in advance).
How to Attend Diner en Blanc
To participate in a Diner en Blanc event you usually need to be invited and then pay a membership fee. To be invited you either need to (1) know the organizers and be invited by them, (2) be sponsored by someone who is already a member or (3) apply to attend by signing up for the waiting list and hope spaces are still available after pre-invited guests finish registering.
Once you attend a Diner en Blanc event you will be invited to return the following year (provided that you obeyed all the rules).
How Much Does Diner en Blanc Cost?
Diner en Blanc in Vancouver costs about $50 per event to register. In 2019 the cost was $43 for the dinner plus a $9 membership fee. 2021 details will likely be similar.
For comparison, the cost in 2018 was $43 per person plus a $9 membership fee and tickets had to be bought in pairs.
Tips and Advice
Below are some things to keep in mind regarding the event.
TIP #1: Don’t forget – Diner en Blanc events take place rain or shine. If it’s raining and you want to be invited back again another year, you must still attend!
TIP #2: Buy a white umbrella or white raincoat if the weather looks iffy.
TIP #3: Don’t take spaghetti or anything messy for your picnic. Remember, you’re wearing all white and fancy clothes!
For more details about Vancouver’s all-white outdoor dining experience, click Dîner en Blanc.