Recap: Dîner en Blanc Edmonton 2014

Sharon and I dressed in white and joined hundreds of Edmontonians at our city’s first Dîner en Blanc event on Thursday, July 17. It was a rainy evening, but that didn’t deter attendees from taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in a unique visual spectacle in Edmonton’s river valley.

Here’s a description of the concept:

“At the last minute, the location is given to thousands of friends and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the “Dîner en Blanc’s” secret place. Thousands of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space.”

In Edmonton the secret location turned out to be Louise McKinney Riverfront Park, a great choice for an event like this, with lots of space and a wonderful view of the skyline.

Audio Recap

For an overview of the Edmonton event, my thoughts, and more detail, check out my audio recap on Mixcloud.

Or you can download the MP3 here.

Photo Recap

Our group met at ATB Place downtown:

Diner en Blanc

After everyone had arrived and checked in, we started walking over to Louise McKinney Riverfront Park. It was funny to see all of the confused faces staring at us as we crossed the streets.

Diner en Blanc

It was a wet evening, so there were a lot of umbrellas and ponchos in the crowd. Sharon was happy with the clear one we picked up specifically for the event!

Diner en Blanc

We made it to the park to find hundreds of people busy setting up their tables and chairs in loose rows.

Diner en Blanc

The rain wasn’t too bad while we were setting up, but it started to get worse shortly after we took this photo!

Diner en Blanc

Food, wine, and water was available for pickup off to the side. Like most things throughout the night, we had to discover that for ourselves, as there wasn’t much guidance.

Diner en Blanc

There was some entertainment throughout the evening, including some dancers from Cavalia, and musicians up on stage. Again, there was no program or information about any of them.

Diner en Blanc

For the very briefest of moments, we saw the orange sun (thanks to the forest fire smoke). It didn’t last long though.

Diner en Blanc

We wondered why some people had tents and discovered that some enterprising folks decided to bring their own! There was no mention of tents on the list of prohibited items. Visually it does impact the effect, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the list next year.

Diner en Blanc

At some point we noticed others lighting their sparklers, so we joined in an lit ours as well. It probably would have been good to wait until it was a bit darker, but I think everyone was tired of the cold and rain.

Diner en Blanc

The sky darkened and the rain returned, so we joined the growing number of people who packed up and left after the sparklers.

Diner en Blanc

We made the best of a wet situation and had fun! In the end though, we decided that we likely wouldn’t attend again next year. Lots of other people seemed to love it though, so I’m sure the event will be back again next summer.

You can see more photos of the event here. You can learn more about Dîner en Blanc in Edmonton at their website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Why I’m excited for the Southeast LRT

Now that I’ve had a chance to think and talk to a few people about yesterday’s LRT route announcements, there is one aspect in particular of the Southeast LRT route that I am quite excited about.

Can this:

Pic of the Day #965 by Kenneth Hynek

Go with these?

Fall Photowalk in EdmontonMuttart - May 12 024 - by A.N.U.J

I think the answer is a big yes (minus the high-floor, underground, elaborate stations…low-floor FTW).

If you look closely at the recommended route for the Southeast LRT corridor, you’ll notice that it goes from downtown through Louise McKinney Riverfront Park and across the river to the Muttart Conservatory (where there should be a stop).

Did you catch that? The LRT will go through the crown jewel of Edmonton, the river valley!

A low-floor, urban style LRT route from downtown through the river valley opens the door to all kinds of possibilities. Most obviously, it makes the river valley accessible to all – no more talk of building an incredibly expensive funicular. More significantly, it creates the potential for some development along the river valley. Think riverfront restaurants, pubs, and other attractions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to turn our river valley into an outdoor West Edmonton Mall or anything like that, but I do think that we often fail to make the most of what is perhaps our best asset. I think an LRT stop at the Muttart Conservatory could spur a number of interesting ideas and concepts.

Now to be clear, this isn’t guaranteed to happen. They could still switch the stations or even potentially the route. And I don’t know how they plan to get from downtown down to the river. There are a lot of unknowns. Still, I think the potential for this is incredible. That’s why I’m excited about the Southeast LRT route, and why I think you should be too!

Photo credits: A.N.U.J, mastermaq, Kenneth Hynek