An enormous party is about to take place in Boston, but you’d be hard-pressed to find out specifically where.
“It has been the hardest secret I’ve ever kept,” said Samantha Kanter, head planner of this year’s Le Diner en Blanc, a posh and mysterious picnic dinner set in a public location that’s not revealed to attendees until the night-of.
The Diner en Blanc concept began in Paris in 1988 and has since spread to more than 70 cities worldwide. This year’s Boston event, on Saturday, Sept. 9, will be the city’s fourth. Previous parties have been held on the Boston Children’s Museum’s waterfront terrace, on Boston City Hall Plaza, and at the Moakley Federal Courthouse. More than 2,500 people are expected to attend this year’s bash.
The name of the event is French for “dinner in white,” and all guests must dress in white and bring white tables, chairs, table linens on which to dine, plus plates, glassware, and silverware.
Last year, a team from Washington, D.C., planned the party, Kanter said. This year’s event is helmed by locals and will feature Boston-area food and a Boston-based band and DJ.
“This year, our goal, especially because we’re a local team for the first time in Boston, is we want to show people why Boston is so great,” Kanter said.
Guests can still expect three Diner en Blanc traditions: the waving of the white cloth napkin to begin the meal, the lighting of electric sparkler wands to encourage people to mingle and dance, and the sound of a trumpet to signal the end of the evening.
Guests can either bring their own food and (non-alcoholic) drinks, or preorder five different picnic dinner baskets for two that range in price from $40 to $65. They’ll be packed by Boston-based food truck Bon Me (options include Thai basil apple summer rolls with peanut sauce, and Soba noodle salad with chilled spicy sesame chickpeas and toasted sesame dressing), Captain Marden’s Seafoods in Wellesley (lobster roll or shrimp and salmon baskets, both with house-made baklava), and Pennypacker’s in Somerville (including baskets with Caprese sandwiches and cucumber salad, or ones with hummus, marinated olives, and lamb lahmajoun).
Wine and champagne are the only alcoholic beverages permitted at the event, and must be preordered; they’ll be provided by Kobrand Wines and Champagne Taittinger.
Registration for the event happens in three phases. Phase one, for members who attended the previous year, opened on Aug. 22. Phase two, for recommended guests of previous attendees, opens Monday, Aug. 28. Or you can put your name on a waiting list for phase three, which opens Wednesday, Aug. 30. This phase is first come, first served, and tickets may be purchased only after receiving an emailed invitation, in pairs, for $40 each plus a $9 membership fee.
Those who secure a ticket will receive emailed instructions for where to meet a team member in the city the night of the event. That contact person will lead each group to the party.
“It’s a magical, interesting, unique experience that you’re not going to get anywhere else,” Kanter said.