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What to Expect On Your First Trip to #EssenceFest

  • BOOK YOUR HOTEL EARLY and be prepared to pay a deposit. We were able to stay at the Intercontinental on St. Charles Ave for a decent rate but the hotel was booked more than 5 months in advance. We did need an additional night and was able to use a corporate discount. Check and see if you can, it never hurts to ask if there is a discount for the company you work for.

  • A great time: Every event I went to was awesome. We pre-purchased a lot of tickets (recommended) to parties and events ahead of time.  The official Essence Day party with Doug E. Fresh and Wale turned into a great concert. During my whole time there it was a great atmosphere, everyone was very friendly.

Celebrities everywhere: It was cool to see and interact with celebrities. They were everywhere and I wasn’t prepared. I went for a morning workout in the hotel with my hair still wrapped and next to me on the treadmill were Nicole Ari Parker and Darren Henson on the weights. I thought hey its early morning I can slip into the gym and out. Nope. Throughout our stay we saw Kevin Hart and Will Packer as guests in our hotel.  All the celebrities were friendly and took time out for pictures. Once we were just walking and Brandy was in front of us. Immediately a line gathered to take a picture with her. I got to meet Lance Gross and almost fainted. :)
  • Good Food! My first trip to Nola didn’t disappoint.  From the 24hr Popeyes (which was the best Popeyes ever) to a Sunday Jazz Brunch at Court of Two Sisters with a brunch buffet and mimosas.

  • Bourbon Street: It was a different experience. The times I visited the street seemed filled with a lot of young locals, I think I was called Ma’am at one point. However if you’ve never been check it out.  Lots of chaos.

  • Lots of walking: Heels are not your friend even for parties. Expect to park far and wait in lines and unless you have a VIP section, you will be standing all night. I wore a lot of wedges or flats.

  • Couples and Girls Trip: It seemed like a lot of couples or girls trips, I didn’t see many single guys at Essence Fest, so don’t get your hopes up :)

  • Convention Center: Free entry, filled with lots of celebs, get there early if you want to participate in meet and greets, the lines are long and sometimes the celeb is only there for a certain amount of time. I remember waiting in line to meet Pooch Hall and didn’t make it as he had to leave. :( However you may see and get to meet some celebs out at parties later the evening. The convention center also has some great shopping where vendors come from all over and set up booths. I found some great tribal print clothing. There are a lot of activities from panel discussions on relationships, makeovers, musical performances and dance contests. Also if you only purchased concert tickets for one night, sometimes there are opportunities in the convention center to win additional nights.

  • Beignets: Café Du Monde, is a must for a trip to NOLA. The line during essence fest was always long, but one time we were able to catch it when it was down to about a 20 minute wait. They also have the Beignet mix and coffee for purchase.

  • Drinks: From the fishbowls to the grenades, NOLA offers an assortment of signature drinks that you must try.

   
  • Activities: Outside of the Essence festival you can check out the French Quarter Area which has the French Market for souvenirs and local food. Also they have a Harrah’s Casino close to the Convention Center.
  • Getting Around: A car was not necessary if you stay near the Superdome as it is congested and hard to park. We only used the car to go to French Market and Court of Two Sisters. We needed the car mostly to get to airport as we flew into Baton Rouge to save about $250 on flight.

I loved Essence Festival and will definitely be back. I didn’t book anything early, so I won’t be going this year. Tickets usually go on sale the winter of the year before. If you are going have an awesome time! Don't forget to follow Essence Festival on social media for updates and use the appropriate hashtags for features on Essence's website. Comment below with your tips for Essence festival. 


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