There's often a gulf between hype and reality, but the pop-up dining experience Le Dîner en Blanc plans to live up to the high expectations.
This very posh picnic, which returns to Boston in September is as much a fashion event for its thousands of attendees as it is a food lovers dream. The only major rule is wear only white, just like Labor Day never happened.
Since the event began in Paris 29 years ago, it’s expanded to 70 cities around the world. Boston hosts its fourth this year and, as usual, the location is kept secret until an hour before the event.
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It’s not just clothing that’s all white: guests bring their own seats, tables and tableware, all of which has to be white. You can create your own picnic basket, or order one through the Dîner en Blanc website. Wine and champagne must be ordered through Dîner en Blanc’s online portal and picked up at the venue due to Massachusetts alcohol regulations. Unfortunately, beer and spirits are not allowed.
If it all sounds complicated, don’t worry, because a team oversees the table leaders, who are volunteers assigned to a group of 25 guests to help them prepare for the event.
“Try to keep your setup manageable,” says group leader Tamy-Fee Meneide. “Don’t think of it as a four-course meal, more of a picnic. Keep the night as simple as possible and don’t get bogged down in your table.”
While your table trappings are best kept simple, so there’s less work to do, Meneide also advises the opposite when it comes to your outfit.
“You see the amount of effort people put into their outfits,” says Meneide. “People just love dressing up for a dinner party."
She adds, "But some keep it simple. They come from all different walks of life, but the rule is all white. If anyone adds, say, a red hat, we ask them to remove it.”
The rules are few, really, and help coalesce what will amount to 2,500 people into this one big spectacle.
“It is about socializing and having fun,” says Meneide, whose favorite part of the whole event is discovering the location, which is kept a secret until the very last minute. Previous locations include the Boston Children’s Museum in 2016, City Hall Plaza in 2015 and the Moakley Federal Courthouse in 2013.
“It might be in a part of Boston that you walk through everyday,” she says. “It makes me see Boston in a whole different way. People take a break from their daily lives and really soak in the city.”
If you go:
Saturday, Sept. 9, Boston, $40+, boston.dinerenblanc.com