Written by Vanessa Perri on 13.09.17

Elegant, festive, fancy, and stylish: those are some of the words that may come to mind when experiencing Le Dîner en Blanc. Nearly 30 years ago, Le Dîner en Blanc began as a strictly word-of-mouth event and made its way to the most prestigious sites in the city of Paris. The opulent picnic was launched by François Pasquier along with a few of his friends. 30 years later, Le Dîner en Blanc has made a name for itself and is hosted in several cities worldwide, such as New York, Auckland, Bucharest, and Vancouver. Montreal’s 9th edition of Le Dîner en Blanc—and the second oldest after the original one in Paris—took place on Thursday, August 17th in Montreal’s Old Port at Place Jacques-Cartier.

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How it Works

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The location of the picnic is in an outdoor, central part of the city, where you wouldn’t expect to see a large event happening, and it is kept a secret until 30 minutes before it actually begins. Guests are transported to the general area of the location by organized public transit or by chartered bus and guided by their Table Leader.

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Registering for the event happens a little differently in comparison to other events. There are three registration phases: phase one allows the previous year’s members to register first and phase two allows the previous year’s members’ sponsored guests to register at a later date. If you never attended the picnic nor do you have anyone to sponsor you, then you are part of phase three, which means that you need to sign up to the official website’s waiting list and wait for their confirmation. If you choose to attend the event by public transit, then your registration fee will cost $36. If you choose to attend by chartered bus, then it will cost $42. Le Dîner en Blanc happens rain or shine.  

A Picnic Like No Other

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Once guests have arrived to their location with their Table Leaders, they set up their foldable table and chairs along with their white tablecloth, napkins, dishware, glasses, cutlery, gourmet meal items, and their very creative table centerpieces. Wine and champagne are the drinks of choice for the night. The event’s gourmet chefs provide some food and each guest receives a baguette and Boursin cheese. As you may have guessed by now, the event’s dress code includes wearing only white. Guests are encouraged to be creative with what they choose to wear as long as it remains tasteful and trendy.

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Once participants are all set up, they begin to swing their white napkins in the air to signify that the event has begun. Guests get to enjoy their food and drinks and simply have a good time, in good company, within an ambiance that is like no other.

The Party and the After Party

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Although the whole evening feels like one big, exciting party, about 2 hours after everyone has eaten, guests are given sparklers which are all lit up and are raised in the air once the evening’s M.C. says so. That signifies that the real party has begun! This part of the night was absolutely spectacular; everyone slowly raising their sparklers with the popular hit “Something Just Like This” playing in the background was definitely a picturesque view.

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Moments later, DJ Zo began playing hit songs, which no one could resist dancing to in the central part of Place Jacques-Cartier. Aside from witnessing a united, pumped up crowd dancing and having a fun time, there was also a very talented live violinist and tropical dancers accompanied by a band of drummers and trumpet players.

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Le Dîner en Blanc became a global phenomenon that unites people from different cultures and different backgrounds all with one purpose in mind: to eat, drink, dance, and have a great evening. We were happy to have taken part in such a unifying, beautiful event and we hope you will get to experience the picnic’s 10th edition next year!

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Photos by Vanessa Perri (@vanessaperri_).

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