Diner en Blanc, the massive outdoor dinner party that pops up in a secret spot every August, took over the grounds of City Hall on Thursday evening, spreading out through the courtyard, Dilworth Park, and across the street at Thomas Paine Plaza. About 5,500 party-goers decked out head to toe in white attended the 2018 Philly iteration of the international event.
Diner en Blanc is unusual in that attendees bring their own tables, chairs, decor, food, and alcohol — and don’t know where they’re going until the party is about to start. The location is kept a closely guarded secret until minutes before it’s time to arrive and start setting up. Guests, who pay to be part of the festivities, get in by either having been to Diner en Blanc before and registering again for this year, or signing up for a wait list and winning a spot through a lottery.
The Philly version is the biggest in the country, the organizers say. Past locations include the Swann Fountain at Logan Square (the first Diner en Blanc here, when it was much smaller), the Art Museum, Franklin Square, the Navy Yard, the JFK Bridge, and Broad Street in Center City.
Walking along the rows of tables draped in white cloths, you’ll spot plenty of cheese boards, Champagne, and macarons — fitting considering it’s a version of a dinner party that originated in Paris. Sushi is also a popular choice, perhaps because of its portability. Mixed in are bags of hoagies, boxes of tomato pie, an egg roll or two, and at least one lobster.
Take a look at what people brought to eat at Diner en Blanc 2018: