What is Essence Festival?


I have just returned from a weekend in NOLA for the Essence Festival and I must say that this city has stolen my heart! But unfortunately this post isn’t about the beautiful architecture or the eclectic mix of people, it’s about the fabulous ESSENCE FESTIVAL. This festival,  informally know as “the party with a purpose” is an annual music festival that was started in 1995 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the magazine Essence. Essence is a magazine geared towards African American women and celebrating African heritage and culture. Being an African American woman from the south, I rarely encounter such celebrations on this large of scale so I was eager to immerse myself in it.

Louis Armstong Park, New Orleans

The festival consists of two parts: A free convention open to the public during the day and a ticket only concert at night. Being that this festival is so large, it is nearly impossible to see, hear and taste everything. You absolutely must decide on a list of must see things and then plan everything else around that. Being the Beyoncé STAN that I am, I knew I had to see the BeyGood announcement and Solange’s performance. I also made sure to stop by all my favorite products stands to take advantage of the freebies. The best freebies go by fast so be sure to get out early.

Jackson Square, New Orleans

During the day is when the convention and subsequent freebies are held. The NOLA convention center is massive and one could easily spend all day in there. But I personally couldn’t visit the birthplace of Jazz without taking at least one walking tour. So I took a few hours out of my day to stay away from the festival and get some fresh air and I must admit that I am so glad that I did. The festival can become overwhelming at times and it’s nice to have some time to reset. I opted to take the Music Arts and More Tour hosted by Andrew Farrier. Immediately when the tour started it was clear that Andrew truly loved what he was doing and was very knowledgeable. I definitely recommend fitting one of his 2-hour tours into your itinerary. Make sure you drink tons of water and pack comfortable walking shoes because you will do a TON of walking all weekend and that Louisiana heat ain’t no joke!….. Seriously though.


Now that we have some daytime ideas it’s time to take a look at the night time events. Essence Festival is known for having some of the best lineups. The concerts consist of the main stage along with a couple of super lounges where nonheadlining artist will perform. This alone is an amazing opportunity to see your favorite artists up close and personal for a fraction of the cost. The night concerts are not to be missed. There’s no way to see all the artists since some preform at the same time or overlapping times but it is very possible to see the majority of them. The intimate setting of the super lounges alone should convince you that this festival is completely worth every dime.

New Orleans, Louisiana


Speaking of cost, make sure to get your tickets and accommodations as early as possible. Tickets for the 3 day weekend starting at $150 total….. Due to my procrastinating gene, I ended but paying $150 PER NIGHT for the concert tickets!!! This put a HUGE dent into my average budget. Please don’t make the same mistake as I did.


Be prepared to eat your way through the city and converse with tons of people from all walks of life. Also get your camera ready because the city is filled with famous people in town for the festival as well. While I was not lucky enough to get any photos with them I did see a ton of them.


I hope I have at least sparked your interest in this amazing festival. I loved it so much I have alrebegunegan planning for next year! Hope to see you there!

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