Food

Dîner en Blanc is Coming Back—With 1,000 More Seats

Guests must wear all white—no ivory, off-white, or beige
More than 3,000 guests attended a Diner en Blanc at Henry Bacon Park by the Lincoln Memorial. Photo by Jeff Elkins.

The flash mob picnic that requires participants to wear only white, bring their own tables, chairs, and dinner, and then pay a fee on top of it all to attend is coming back to DC. Dîner en Blanc will take place on August 26, and this year, the organizers are adding an extra 500 spots, bringing the total number of attendees to 4,000. (UPDATE: A publicist initially provided the incorrect information. The event will add 1,000 spots, not 500 spots, bringing the total to 4,500.)

For those unfamiliar with this stain-prone, Guilty Remnant-resembling phenomenon, Dîner en Blanc began in Paris and has since spread to cities around the globe. Those who snag tickets descend at the same time on a public location, announced just before the event, bringing all their own picnic supplies. In past years, the DC locales have included Henry Bacon park near the Lincoln Memorial and in front of the Carnegie Library.  Tickets cost $40 plus a $9 “membership” fee. (Organizers say the money goes toward venue rental, security, music, and other public events costs.)

The rules are super strict: Guests must dress “elegantly” in all white—no ivory, off-white, or beige. “Originality is always encouraged, as long as it stays stylish and tasteful,” the guidelines read.

And don’t think you can bring just any old table or chairs. Your table must be foldable, square, between 28 and 32 inches, and covered with a white tablecloth. Chairs must also be white.

Even your food must be served according Dîner en Blanc’s standards. Don’t you dare show up with McDonald’s and plastic forks. They expect a “gourmet meal,” cloth napkins, cutlery, dishware, and glassware. You can’t bring your own alcohol, but the event does have an “official Champagne sponsor” and other wine for sale in advance. Attendees can also rent tables and chairs or order a professionally prepared picnic.

The event begins with everyone waving a cloth napkin (white, duh) in the air and concludes with sparklers. At the end, everyone packs up their stuff and leaves as if they were never there.

People who’ve attended Dîner en Blanc in the past will have first dibs on spots this year when registration opens on July 26. On Aug. 2, friends sponsored by members will have a chance to sign up as well. Then on Aug. 9, the event will open up to the public and those on the waitlist on a first-come, first-served basis.

Believe it or not, the existing waitlist has 30,000 people. Really.

UPDATE: A publicist for the event initially provided the incorrect ticket prices. It will cost $40 plus an $9 membership fee, not $37 with an $8 membership fee.

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.