Diner en Blanc converges last year at the Jack Poole Plaza at the Vancouver Convention Centre. An identical event is being planned for June 27 at a secret Victoria location.

Secret picnic goes public somewhere in Victoria

A flood of guests in white will enjoy a European style picnic this summer

A wave of friends, and friends of friends, dressed in white will herald the first Diner en Blanc in Victoria as they make their way to a secret, but public, picnic spot.

The meal will start with the 1,200 diners offering a traditional wave of white napkins overhead and end in a swirl of sparklers.

That is “quite a magical moment,” said Aidan Henry, co-organizer of the evening.

“It’s a magical evening of great food, great drink, good people, good music, great atmosphere,” he said. “The premise of it is really the people. It’s about inviting your friends and friends of friends.”

A tradition going back 25 years to Paris, France, Diner en Blanc events start with a host, and leaders who invite friends. Then friends invite friends.

More than 1,200 guests toting picnic baskets and dressed in white will gather at four meeting points around Greater Victoria. Some will board the nine charter buses, while others will amble to the secret dining location.

“They did it in Vancouver last year and they did it for 1,200 and it completely sold out,” Henry said.

An event organizer by trade (Brink Events), he looks forward to “seeing everybody having a great time,” on such a large scale. “For that one evening, they’re really out of the rat race of everyday life. Everybody can sit back, really enjoy the evening.”

The key ingredients are a secret venue, everything white, and friends.

“People don’t actually find out the location until they get there. It adds a bit of intrigue,” Henry said.

Four group leaders will get guests to the venue, traditionally a beautiful spot in the city, and oversee 24 table leaders who in turn each handle 50 guests.

The hosts ask everyone to dress in white from head to toe and bring their own tables, chairs, fine china, silverware and white tablecloth. Most will also bring their own fine feast while 300 guests will select from a menu by London Chef, with meals ranging from $25 to $55.

“Diner en Blanc is such an international thing, it’s incredible,” said Dan Hayes, head chef with London Chef. “It started as a few people getting together wearing white suits, sipping champagne and having a nibble in the park.”

Diners will eat and celebrate amid live music and dancing for Victoria’s first Diner en Blanc on June 27. Get on the waiting list at victoria.dinerenblanc.info.

“The atmosphere must be electric, and without a doubt there are going to be 1,200 people who love good food and good wine come rain or shine,” Hayes said. “That’s great for food, for chefs for everyone.”


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