Heading to Essence Festival? Here’s a comprehensive guide to prepare.
Essence Festival, an iconic celebration of African-American culture and music, has become an annual pilgrimage for Black women and others. This vibrant and empowering event attracts diverse attendees from across the globe. I attended the festival last year and had the time of my life by myself. I realize proper preparation is key to maximizing your Essence Festival experience. This article will guide you through essential steps to ensure an unforgettable time at the Essence Festival.
1. Plan Your Trip in Advance
a. Choose the Dates: The Essence Festival typically takes place during the summer months, and the dates may vary from year to year, but it’s usually right before the 4th of July. This year the festival is from Friday, June 30, 2023, to Sunday, July 2, 2023. Stay updated with the festival’s official website or social media channels to determine the exact dates and plan your trip accordingly. Essence Experience App is also available in the iOS and Google Play stores.
b. Accommodation: Securing accommodation early is crucial as the festival draws a massive crowd. Consider staying near the festival venues or in downtown New Orleans for convenient access to the festivities. Explore Airbnb, hotel options, and rental properties, or even consider sharing accommodations with friends to reduce costs.
c. Travel Arrangements: Book your flights or make travel arrangements well in advance to avoid inflated prices. If driving to the festival, plan your route and be aware of any potential traffic or road closures.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Lineup
The Essence Festival features an incredible lineup of renowned musicians, speakers, and entertainers. Take the time to research the performers and create a schedule of the artists you wish to see. With multiple stages and events happening simultaneously, having a plan will help you optimize your festival experience. Last year, I could only attend the evening concerts due to being in school during the day, but I loved every bit of it. Here’s the lineup for the evening concerts this year.
3. Prepare Your Essentials
a. Festival Attire: Essence Festival is known for its vibrant and stylish atmosphere. Pack comfortable clothing and shoes that allow you to move freely and beat the New Orleans summer heat. Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a poncho or light rain jacket, as weather conditions can vary.
b. Accessories: Bring a small backpack or cross-body bag to carry your essentials, such as a refillable water bottle, portable phone charger, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer. Consider bringing a portable fan or misting spray to stay cool. For the evening concerts, only clear, see-through bags are allowed. Bags no larger than 12″ wide x 12″ height x 6″ deep, Gallon Size Ziploc Bags and Small Clutch Purses no larger than 4.5″ x 6.5″ with or without a handle or strap will work. Non-clear diaper bags are prohibited.
c. Cash and Cards: While most vendors accept card payments, it’s always wise to have some cash on hand for quick and easy transactions. However, in the arena, you can use your card. I’m certain of this, as I used mine throughout the event. You can also use your card to pay for parking. I’m not sure if they accept cash.
4. Create an Itinerary
The Essence Festival offers much more than just musical performances. Take advantage of the diverse array of activities, including empowerment seminars, art exhibits, culinary experiences, and more. Review the festival schedule and plan your daily activities to ensure you don’t miss out on any must-see events. The evening concerts usually start at about 6 PM CST and may run late letting out.
5. Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
New Orleans is renowned for its rich history, unique culture, and culinary delights. Extend your Essence Festival experience by exploring the city. Sample delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine, visit historic landmarks like the French Quarter and Garden District, and enjoy live music at local jazz clubs. Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of New Orleans, and make memories beyond the festival grounds.
6. Prepare to Make Friends
When I attended the festival last year, I ended up befriending the woman who was originally sitting in my seat. We had an interesting conversation between acts and connected on Instagram. She told me to be prepared to make friends, and she shared how she had met and built relationships with others she met at the festival over the many years of her attending the event. It’s not surprising as the South is known for its hospitality, and as a true Southerner, I can confirm this.
So there you have it! Preparing for the Essence Festival is an exciting process that ensures you make the most of this remarkable celebration. By planning your trip in advance, familiarizing yourself with the lineup, packing the essentials, creating an itinerary, and immersing yourself in the local culture, you’ll unlock an unforgettable experience filled with music, empowerment, and joy. Get ready to indulge in the Essence Festival’s vibrant atmosphere and create memories that will last a lifetime, because Baby (in my New Orleans accent). Here’s a video of us swagsurfin’.
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