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Weekend Picks: Essence Festival, Fourth of July Celebrations, and More

The Superdome is home to The Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans (Photo: Paul Broussard)
- Photo by Paul Broussard

It’s Fourth of July weekend, and in New Orleans that means fireworks on the Riverfront, a brand new festival celebrating snowballs, and the 25th anniversary of Essence Festival. Enjoy New Orleans Black Restaurant Week, where 20 of New Orleans’ black-owned businesses will be participating and offering special menus. This weekend also marks the second Black Masking Cultural Festival, celebrating various black masking tribes at Stallings Park. Get ready to celebrate the 4th of July weekend, New Orleans style.

Essence Fest
Essence Festival (Photo: Paul Broussard)


Essence Festival – This year marks the 25th anniversary of Essence Festival, and it’s projected to be bigger and better than ever. From July 4-7, enjoy everything from the daytime speaker series to performances from artists like Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, and Pharrell Williams, along with a special appearance from former first lady Michelle Obama. Be sure to check out all aspects of the festival, including the Beauty Carnival, Marketplace, and Essence Eats. Ticket prices vary.

Heard Dat Kitchen
Visit Heard Dat Kitchen during Black Restaurant Week in New Orleans. (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

New Orleans Black Restaurant Week – From June 29 – July 7, enjoy New Orleans Black Restaurant Week. This year’s participating restaurants include Barrow’s Catfish, Neyow’s Creole Café, Heard Dat Kitchen, and 17 others. Enjoy price-fixed menus and specials at these spots throughout the weekend. For more information, visit the Black Restaurant Week website.


Black Masking Cultural Festival – The Black Masking Cultural Festival is a family-friendly celebration of New Orleans Indian culture. The fest will include a number of black masking tribes, live music, arts and crafts, food trucks, and more. Admission is free and the festival is from noon to 5 p.m. at Stallings Park.


Fourth Annual Chicken Jam – The Al Copeland Foundation will celebrate National Fried Chicken Day by hosting the 4th Annual Chicken Jam at the UNO Lakefront Arena. This family-fun event features Copeland’s Chicken, as well as entertainment by local bands, including Me & My Friends, Bag of Donuts, and Superstar, and face painting, inflatables, a photo booth, and more for the kids. Proceeds will benefit the Al Copeland Foundation, dedicated to funding cancer research. General admission tickets are $15 in advance and the event is Saturday from 2-7 p.m.

Fourth of July fireworks (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)


Fourth of July in New Orleans – The fourth of July falls on a Thursday this year, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate. Enjoy the inaugural Sneauxball Fest in New Orleans East from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., a Fourth of July celebration complete with music from the Big Six Brass Band, food and snowballs from different vendors, and more. Also on the fourth is Essence in The Park, a community celebration in Armstrong Park kicking off the 25th anniversary of Essence Fest. From noon to 9 p.m., enjoy performances from artists like Common and Big Freedia along with food and shopping. Then, head to Crescent Park, Algiers Point, or downtown New Orleans to see the fireworks on the Riverfront beginning at 9 p.m.

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