Aftertaking a break last year, Dîner en Blanc, the fun annual pop up picnic is here again. This year’s event is slated for Saturday August 11 at a secret location in Kigali. It is the 6th edition of the event that first debuted in Rwanda in 2012.
That year, Kigali became the first African city to host the glamorous global event.
Launched nearly 30 years ago in Paris by François Pasquier and his close friends, Dîner en Blanc has grown into an international event spanning six continents, in which people gather in a public space for a pop up picnic.
Participants meet at various places in the city, and are then ferried by bus to the location, which is always kept top secret until the last minute.
Registration is done online, and participants wear all white to the event, usually at an outdoor venue, and carry their own food and drink. Usually, organisers recommend wines for drinks, as opposed to beers and spirits. Alternatively, one can order food and drink on site, from participating hospitality establishments.
Beautiful all white floral arrangement and very elegant formal table setting from a previous Diner en Blanc event in Kigali./ Illume Creative Studio
In Rwanda, Dîner en Blanc is organised by Illume Creative Studio, a local communications, branding and marketing agency.
“When we started it (Dîner en Blanc –Kigali, which is part of a global franchise), we wanted to contribute to the tourism landscape of Rwanda by creating a product that is an internationally recognised event, with local flavour. We were hoping to diversify the tourism experience in Rwanda by appealing to domestic tourists as well as regional and international tourists, and by creating an event that brings people to Kigali, or gives them a reason to stay in Kigali a little longer,” explained Anne Mazimhaka, co-founder and creative director of Illume Creative Studio.
She added that the event further opened up income generating opportunities for local service providers like designers, retailers, restaurants and hotels.
“So far, over the past five events, Dîner en Blanc has indeed lived up to those expectations. We have had attendees from numerous countries, regionally (Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Nigeria) and internationally (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the US). And local businesses have benefitted directly from the event.”
Registration for the event opened on August 3 and closed on August 4. However, not all hope is lost for those that may wish to attend but haven’t yet registered.
“People can still join the waiting list. They can go to dinerenblanckigali.com/registration and fill in their information. We will get back to them if there is still room. We do our best to accommodate everyone,” Mazimhaka explained.
She further said that the venue will remain undisclosed until D-day, when pre-registered guests will be transported from various bus points around Kigali to the secret location.
Previous events have been held in Gacuriro (2012), Giporoso (2013), Kagugu (2014), Stade Amahoro (2015), and the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV) in 2016.
It typically attracts domestic and regional tourists (Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ivory Coast, South Africa), and from the world (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Australia, the Netherlands, US).
Today, more than 70 cities around the world host their own Dîner en Blanc, including Paris, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, London, Los Angeles, Kigali, Haiti, Chicago, Philadelphia, Melbourne, Johannesburg, Singapore, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Globally, it promotes friendship, elegance, and a sense of community. In Rwanda, it seeks to become part of the fabric of the country’s MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and events) tourism strategy and to promote local businesses and entrepreneurs.