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Top 5 Things to Do at Essence Fest

The 25th anniversary Essence Fest takes place July 4-7, 2019.

Essence Fest
Essence Festival (Photo: Paul Broussard)

From July 4-7, New Orleans will host the 2019 ESSENCE Festival® Presented By Coca-Cola®. Essence Fest is a celebration of black culture with everything from daytime speakers to evening concerts, bringing in some of music’s biggest names. This year, the festival turns 25. To help navigate the fest, we came up with a list of our Top 5 Things to Do. Enjoy, and happy Essence Fest!

The Convention Center is home to many Essence Festival events throughout the day. (Photo: Zack Smith)

1. Get Inspired by the Power Stage

The Power Stage at Essence Festival brings a lineup of speakers to the Convention Center for two days full of inspiration. From July 5-6, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, enjoy free talks on technology, entrepreneurship & career, wealth, entertainment, and more. This year’s featured speakers include Iyanla Vanzant, Pharrell Williams, Terry Crews, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell, among others. You can register in advance here.

Essence Fest (Photo: Zack Smith)

2. Come Hungry and Ready to Eat at Essence Eats

You can’t come to a New Orleans festival without expecting to eat well. Dig into seafood, desserts, and classic New Orleans dishes at Essence Eats. Watch as local and celebrity chefs prepare specialty dishes with live expos. Treat yourself and indulge in all the great food available at the festival. Admission is free, but register here in advance.

Shopping at Essence Festival (Photo: Zack Smith)

3. Pick Up Some Swag

Hear from beauty influencers and wellness experts at the Beauty Carnival in the Convention Center July 5-7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission tickets start at $55 with VIP Upgrades available. Other Essence Fest exhibitions include the Fashion House at Gallier Hall, the Wellness House at Lighthouse Glass Gallery, and Marketplace at the Convention Center where you can shop apparel, merchandise, accessories, books, and more.

Jam out to The Roots at Essence Fest (Photo: Paul Broussard)

4. Experience the Evening Concerts

If you’re planning on going to Essence Fest, you’ve got to check out the evening concerts. This year’s lineup features Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, and other big stars taking the stage. Friday, July 5, catch Ledisi in a special tribute to Aretha Franklin, Brandy, Doug E. Fresh, Missy Elliott, and more. On Saturday, July 6, Mary J. Blige, Nas, H.E.R., and Teddy Riley perform with a special appearance from Michelle Obama. On Sunday, July 7, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, and Big Freedia close out the fest. In addition to these mainstage performances, additional artists will take the spotlight in the Superlounges. All performances take place at the Superdome, and tickets can be purchased here.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome will host the 25th Essence Fest evening concerts. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

5. Keep the Party Going with Essence After Dark

Essence After Dark features eight concerts over four nights of live music at different venues across the city. Enjoy Reggae, bounce music, music from women in hip hop, and more. Most of the Essence After Dark concerts begin at 10 p.m. and last well into the night. You can find tickets here.

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