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Things to Do

Top 5 Things to Do at Essence Fest

Essence Festival will take place July 5-8 this year at the New Orleans Convention Center and Superdome.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints (Photo: Paul Broussard)
- Photo by Paul Broussard

From July 5-8, New Orleans will host the 2018 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 is projected to be bigger and better than ever. To help navigate the fest, we came up with a list of our Top 5 Things to Do at Essence Fest. Although New Orleans is always a fun city to explore, we’re keeping our picks inside the festival grounds because there’s just so much to do there. Enjoy, and happy Essence Fest!

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

1. Participate in the ESSENCE Day of Service

On the first day of the festival, kick off your weekend by giving back. The ESSENCE Day of Service takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, July 5, and will allow festival-goers to volunteer throughout the city of New Orleans. Volunteers can apply here and will have the opportunity to assist in various projects including “Beautification & Arts on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard” and “Paint and Power Through! Revitalizing a Community Youth Center.”

Speakers take the stage at the Essence Path to Power Conference (Photo: Zack Smith)

2. Get Inspired by the Daytime Conference Speakers

The ESSENCE Path to Power Conference brings a lineup of speakers to the Convention Center for three days full of inspiration. From July 6-8, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, enjoy talks on technology, entrepreneurship & career, wealth, entertainment, and more. These events are free, but you must register in advance here.

Essence Fest (Photo: Zack Smith)

3. Come Hungry and Ready to Eat

You can’t come to a New Orleans festival without expecting to be well fed. Dig into seafood, desserts, and classic New Orleans dishes at the Convention Center, July 6-8 from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 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.

Shopping at Essence Festival (Photo: Zack Smith)

4. Pick Up Some Swag

Check out the Beauty Bungalow at the Beauty Carnival for exclusive meet & greets with beauty influencers, hair consultations, and access to beauty products this year at ESSENCE. Your VIP Pass gives you exclusive access all three days of the Beauty Carnival, from July 6-8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased here. Also be sure to do some shopping while you’re at the Convention Center where you’ll find over 100 vendors selling everything from beauty supplies to books to unique art finds, and much more.

Stop by and see us at the hospitality lounge on Fulton Street during the festival on Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. There will be live performances, ambassadors to answer questions, seats for you to relax, free water, and lots of swag. Insider’s Tip: Snag a free copy of our black owned business guidebook, fresh off the press.

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

5. 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, Janet Jackson and other big stars taking the stage. Friday, July 6, catch Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and the Roots. On Saturday, July 7, Mary J Blige and Xscape perform. On Sunday, July 8, Janet Jackson closes out the festival as the final act. All performances take place at the Superdome, and tickets can be purchased here.

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