Dîner en Blanc, the pop-up dinner party, will return to Philadelphia on Thursday, Aug. 18. It will be the 10th time the city has hosted the event, and it will fall about a month and a half after the inaugural Atlantic City Dîner en Blanc.
The rules for Dîner en Blanc are as follows: Bring your own table, chairs, food, and drink; Champagne and wine only (no beer or booze). Arrive at the designated meeting site, after which volunteers will lead guests to the surprise location of the dinner, which will happen rain or shine. Pack everything up when you leave — including your trash. And of course: Dress all in white.
Guests from previous years have first dibs on spots for this year’s event, followed by those “sponsored” by veteran attendees. If you’re brand new to Dîner en Blanc, sign up for this year’s waiting list at register.dinerenblanc.com/philadelphia/en/register. Tickets, about $110 a pair, have sold out every year. (This year’s pricing has not been released.)
Part of Dîner’s appeal is the last-minute reveal of the location. Past Philly venues have included the Swann Memorial Fountain in Logan Circle; the JFK Bridge across the Schuylkill; the middle of Broad Street, from City Hall to Pine Street; Boathouse Row; the Navy Yard; the Art Museum; and around City Hall, in Dilworth Park and Thomas Paine Plaza. Last summer’s event took over Rittenhouse Square.
Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia’s hosts work with the city’s Office of Special Events to arrange the secret location each year. The organization pays the city for site and rental fees, as well as any necessary road closures. A team of volunteers helps coordinate details for marketing, facilities, security, staging, and transportation.
The event started in 1988 as an impromptu gathering among friends who dressed in white to more easily spot each other in Paris’ sprawling Bois de Boulogne. It has spread to more than 80 cities in 30 countries. And while it’s been popular in Philly, it has created controversy as well, with some arguing it’s the “literal whitewashing of Philly.”
Even in the midst of the delta variant’s spike, last year’s event brought almost 3,000 people to Rittenhouse Square..