From ancient outdoor feasts to modern backyard family barbeques, outdoor eating has long been the favoured dining experience of many people. In fact, in warm climates and during summer months, restaurant and bar patios are cluttered with guests looking to escape the indoors and enjoy their meals in the open air. While the popularity of outdoor dining has sparked a number of world-acclaimed al fresco restaurants, it has also sparked unique dining events that offer experiences unlike anything seen in even the most highly-ranked dining establishments. From pop-up events shrouded in secrecy to extensively planned giant outdoor dinner parties, here are 5 of the world’s most amazing outdoor dining experiences.
5. Outstanding in the Field
A tribute to farmers and the gifts of the land, Outstanding in the Field is a mobile feast that travels coast to coast in North America (and has now been abroad also) and sets up long outdoor dinner tables in the fields of participating farms and vineyards. This enormous culinary banquet was established in 1999, and for 16 years has invited locals to taste and celebrate the food yielded by each particular place, with the menu and décor inspired by the surroundings. The sparkling conversation and unique atmosphere of the event has made it a world-wide sensation, which to date, has set over 600 tables set in 9 countries for over 60,000 guests.
4. Savor the Summit
Park City, Utah sure knows how to hold a successful dinner party, with this annual “Grand Table” event including the participation of over 20 local restaurants and featuring a massive dinner table set up in the middle of a major roadway. The event is the city’s social highlight, with a continuous long table accommodating seating for up to 1500 guests set down the length of the city’s Main Street, all for the mass enjoyment of remarkable food, live music and unparalleled atmosphere.
3. Table for 1201
Created to spark conversation and raise awareness about the value of architecture, design and urbanism in the world community, Winnipeg’s Table for 1201 is a giant outdoor picnic at one extremely long table that requires guests to bring their own chairs and dress in white. Representatives from government, various institutions and arts organizations, as well as members of the general public are invited to join the conversation while dining on meals created by local chefs, at unique outdoor locations that are generally kept secret until the last possible moment. Since its inception the event has garnered wide public acclaim and extensive media coverage making it one of Winnipeg’s most notable summer events.
2. Flames of the Forest
The only technical restaurant on this list, Australia’s Flames of the Forest is a dining experience so unique, everyone needs to know about it. In truly luxurious fashion, the restaurant’s 2 dining packages, The Aboriginal Dining Experience and the Rainforest Dining Experience, take place at two undisclosed rural locations, with guests transported between hotels and sites by staff. Both packages feature gourmet meals complimented by Australian wines and supported by a variety of live entertainment. The dream-like rainforest locations set with an abundance of fire, torches and candles contribute to what many have described as a truly one of a kind “experience of the senses.”
1. Diner en Blanc
Founded 25 years ago in Paris, the Diner en Blanc has become a widely sought-after worldwide phenomenon, with over 15,000 members in 17 participating cities (with a variety of spin-off events around the globe). Guests from all over attend an organized-pop up “chic picnic”, where they must dress in white from head to toe and bring along their own tables, chairs, utensils and food and drinks. The kicker of the event is that guests have no idea where it will be taking place until minutes before it starts, with the location communicated by host via social media. Wondering why people spend money to essentially have a fancy picnic with their friends and a gazillion other strangers? Organizers attribute the event’s success to the unique atmosphere and adventurous vibe that surrounds the event, along with the amazing sensation of participating in such an elaborate spectacle of good eats, sparkling conversation and general mass elegance.