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Green Park

12th June 2018

Picnics are seen as being a quintessentially British pastime, characterised by al fresco meals in beautiful surroundings. The word ‘picnic’ originates from the French word ‘pique-nique’, which first appeared in a book in 1692 called Origines de la Langue Française. Back then it described people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine with them. Although ‘bring your own beverage’ or BYOB has become the modern-day term for this particular phenomenon, the idea of the original pique-nique is thought to more accurately describe a meal where everyone contributes something.

Spring Picnic

In the 1700s, the word ‘picnic’ made its way into the English language, describing elegant meals eaten outdoors. As time progressed, more and more green spaces in European cities became accessible to all citizens, and a tradition for picnicking in parks began. In the early 19th century, a group of fashionable Londoners even set up the so-called Picnic Society. Rather than meeting in the city’s green spaces however, Picnic Society members met in the Pantheon – an entertainment space on Oxford Street. The premise of the Picnic Society was that each member had to bring some refreshments, but also provide a share of the entertainment. This could be seen as an earlier day equivalent of playing frisbee or impromptu cricket once appetites have been sated at a modern-day picnic!

Although the Picnic Society in London fizzled out in the 1850s, picnics are a big deal to Brits today. The average person is said to attend a picnic at least three times a year, which equates to 94 million picnics taking place each and every year! It’s also interesting that picnicking is found to be such enjoyable pastime, the phrase “no picnic” has emerged to describe things said to be unenjoyable.


To celebrate National Picnic Week, The Athenaeum will be serving decadent picnic baskets ideal for taking to Green Park – the Royal Park opposite the hotel. Like an afternoon tea in a basket, our picnic baskets include a range of perfectly British goodies.

Change your day from being “no picnic” to “life’s a picnic” with us during National Picnic Week.


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