7 Things To Do in New Orleans During Essence Festival

Get your last minute things ready and packed because we’re going to New Orleans! This year, the Essence Festival is back in Louisiana celebrating their 25th Anniversary, July 4-8th, 2019. We’re all looking forward to being in the Superdome for the star-studded music-lineup, however, there’s so much more to do during the weekend. Inside and outside of the festival, there are places to party, conferences and exhibitions, and of course, places to shop and eat. Here are seven things you must do while you’re in New Orleans during Essence Fest.

Visit the Convention Center for Essence Fest

During the day, enjoy all of the vendors, speakers, and expositions at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. It’s free to enter with no limit on how many times you can go. Visit pop-up shops and tabeling events for some of your favorite brands and companies that are sponsoring the festival. You may also catch a few celebs during the meet and greet events, too.

photo via nola.eater.com

Get your grub on

One thing is for sure, you’re not leaving New Orleans without experiencing the food. First stop, Cafe du Monde off Decatur St. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is a staple for the city’s historic dessert—Beignets. Experiencing this heavenly, french-styled doughnut covered in powdered sugar is a must anytime you’re in New Orleans. Don’t forget to try the best restaurants the city has to offer for your creole cuisine and seafood as well. During the festival, Essence will also have a food festival called Essence Eats. Held at the convention center, Superdome, and Louis Armstrong Park will feature a wide range of food vendor selections, live cooking demos, and celebrity chefs. 

Party, Party, Party!

Along with it being the 25th Anniversary of Essence and black excellence, it’s Fourth of July weekend! Plenty of parties, daytime and night, will be held during the weekend for you to enjoy outside of the festival activities. Take a trip down to the French Quarter, and of course, Bourbon Street is the ultimate go-to. It’s always a good time bar-hopping down Bourbon, collecting beaded necklaces, and enjoying fish bowls and hand grenades. 

photo via @essencefest on Instagram

Shop until you drop

There will be plenty of places for you to shop during the festival and all around the city. This year will be the biggest yet as the festival brings in 150+ vendors to be a part of the Essence Marketplace. Shop apparel, accessories, books, merch and more at the ultimate shopping destination for Black-owned brands. Outside of the festival, visit the French Quarter for souvenirs and Jackson Street for all of your artistic desires.

Explore the rich history of New Orleans

If the parties aren’t your thing, go on a history trip. New Orleans is known for its superstitions and legends of ghosts, horror stories of their above-ground cemeteries, and voodoo practices. If you’re up for the scare, take a ghost tour in the French Quarter of the infamous LaLaurie Mansion. For the visitors who prefer not to be frightened, visit the New Orleans Jazz Museum to learn about the history in the very place it was born.

Conferences and Exhibitions

Essence Fest has more to offer than just the main music festival at the Superdome. They’re giving you conferences and exhibitions with big-name keynote speakers. For the beauty fans, get your tickets for the Essence Beauty Carnival being held July 5-7th. Listen to your favorite beauty gurus, influencers, and wellness experts live on stage. Don’t forget your coins because it will also include a massive shopping experience. Other conferences include The Power Conference, which will shed light on issues in our community, and visit the E-Suite for all of your women in business inspiration. When you’re not at the Superdome, Essence After Dark will feature performances from women in hip hop and 90s R&B favorites.

photo via @thisistheread on Instagram

Pop-Up Events

Outside of the conferences and exhibitions going on at the convention center, there are even more events to attend. For more of your beauty needs, Camille Rose Naturals has its own pop-up beauty experience during the weekend as well. Join The Camille Rose Beauty Kitchen for handcrafted culinary beauty, fitness, and entertainment. Enjoy hair services at the Braid and Spa Bars, and move around during the yoga and twerking exercise sessions. 

For a good laugh, podcast-duo Kid Fury and Crissle of The Read Podcast will have their live show for the second year in a row. They joined Essence Fest last year as the first podcast to be a part of the lineup, and are coming back again with their famous witty lines and unapologetic reads. Catch them inside of the convention center for their merch pop-up store as well.

There’s so much to do during Essence Fest, and there’s something for everyone. It’s a guaranteed good time to celebrate black people, black culture, and black excellence.