Dîner en Blanc Will Host Its Biggest Pop-Up Picnic in DC Yet With 5,000 People

The all-white flash mob returns on August 25

DC's 2017 Dîner en Blanc on Pennsylvania Avenue. Photo by Evy Mages

The picnic for people who like rules and matching is back again. Dîner en Blanc—a flash mob where everyone wears only white and brings their own tables and cutlery to dine at a secret location—will return to DC for the fifth time on Aug. 25. This year’s dinner will be the biggest yet with space for 5,000 attendees—up from 4,500 last year.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Dîner en Blanc, which began in Paris and has since spread to cities across six continents. The DC venue isn’t announced until the day of the event. Previously, revelers have converged on the lawn of the former Carnegie Library and on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Participation costs $52 —$43 plus a $9 membership fee—but includes no food, drinks, or even a seat to sit in. (Organizers say the money goes toward venue fees, security, music, and other public events costs.)

Rather, participants need to bring everything themselves. No, really, everything. (Although tables and chairs are available to rent for an extra fee). And there are rules about what they can bring. Strict rules. Most notably, everything from the clothes to the chairs to the table-settings must be white. Not ivory. Not off-white. Not—gasp—beige. White, white, white. “All guests must dress elegantly in head-to-toe white,” the rules read. “Originality is always encouraged, as long as it stays stylish and tasteful.”

Picking up some Popeye’s or Cava for the picnic is also a no-no. Attendees are expected to bring a “gourmet meal” with (white) cloth napkins, real cutlery (no plastic forks!), and a (white) tablecloth. Too much pressure? “Professionally prepared” picnic baskets will be for sale.

The meal concludes with dancing and sparklers. When it’s over, everyone packs up everything and leaves the space behind as if no one had been there.

Interested? Members (people who’ve previously attended) get first dibs on registration. People referred by members are next in line, followed by those on the wait list (sign up here). Last year, organizers claimed 30,000 people were already on the wait list.

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.