ESSENCE Festival

As the premier destination for entertainment, culture, community and empowerment, the annual ESSENCE Festival is the largest event of its kind, attended by more than 550,000 every Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans.



Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014, the Festival posted record attendance of over 550,000—its largest Festival weekend ever. The event featured the country’s top speakers, authors, leaders, innovators and celebrities—as well as world-renowned and up-and-coming performing acts—who all came together to entertain, excite, engage, inform and inspire.

Daytime offerings will include the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, which featured world-renowned speakers and influencers such as: Steve Harvey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Iyanla Vanzant and others; free Empower U Sessions; interactive sponsor activities; the Arts & Culture Marketplace showcasing original designs and handcrafted arts in the nation’s largest marketplace; ESSENCE Eats, featuring food vendors hailing from New Orleans’ finest restaurants; screening rooms for the hottest movies and T.V. episodes; and pro-social community offerings. Each year, top global brands come for rich cultural experiences such as make-overs, vehicle test drives, celebrity meet-and-greets and more.

Headliners such as Prince, Lionel Richie, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Ledisi, Charlie Wilson and many more were among the more than 30 artists announced for the evening performances in the Louisiana Superdome. The Festival’s daytime programming, held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, also drew record-breaking attendance over the course of the weekend.

The 2013 ESSENCE Festival posted record attendance of over 543,000 — a 30% increase over 2012 and its largest Festival weekend ever

The Facts

  • The ESSENCE Festival originated as a one-time celebration of ESSENCE magazine’s 25th anniversary.
  • Prince, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna and Stevie Wonder are just a few of the acts that have performed at the ESSENCE Festival.
  • In 2013, ESSENCE partnered with leading cable news network MSNBC for daily live broadcasts live from the Festival.
  • With more than 120 speakers across four days during the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience at the Convention Center, in addition to corporate partner activations over the weekend, the daytime events now have the largest footprint.
  • More than 30 R&B, pop and soul artists perform across five stages each night at the Louisiana Superdome.

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