The ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola, the world’s largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience, is marking its 25th anniversary July 4-7, 2019 in New Orleans, LA. The Festival, the only experience of its kind, is also the largest celebration of global Black culture and continues to reach new heights with a focus on economic inclusion, cultural ownership, and community development. Now attracting more than 500,000 attendees each weekend, the ESSENCE Festival surpasses every national music, entertainment, and cultural festival based on average daily attendance and is planning its most extensive programming to date.
With a daily line-up of diverse, can’t-miss enrichment and entertainment programming, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will be a safe space where hundreds of thousands of multigenerational attendees gather to be informed, inspired and empowered. Offering new and elevated experiences, each activation will serve the unmet needs of Black women across the globe and bring the pages of the magazine and online content to life as never before across arts, entertainment, music, beauty, fashion, technology, film, food, wellness, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and economic empowerment.
“For 25 years, the ESSENCE Festival has embodied the power and purpose of our culture – bringing a total of more than $4 billion in economic impact to the City of New Orleans and state of Louisiana and most importantly, serving as a sacred ground for millions of Black women to engage each other in community, sisterhood, service, family, love, laughter, joy, hope, and empowerment,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of ESSENCE Communications. “Today, the Festival is a full celebration of that culture – what we have achieved, how we honor each other, and where we’re going from here. For us, as a 100% Black-owned company, that includes building from the Festival’s foundation of music, entertainment, and empowerment to also now reclaiming our economics and facilitating more opportunities for ownership of and in the culture that we create, innovate and evolve.”
Ebanks continued, “ESSENCE is home, and we know that home is where the heart is. It is where we go to be restored and sustained. No matter where we travel in the world, there’s no place like it. So, the ESSENCE Festival is also a much-anticipated homecoming for Black artists to be uplifted and replenished, for our brightest minds to convene around solutions to critical issues impacting our communities, and for our most creative, bold and passionate selves to be celebrated and renewed. ESSENCE is that place, and today we say “Welcome home.”
In addition to an epic ‘homecoming’ musical line-up of more than 80 performers at the Louisiana Superdome – including Mary J. Blige, Nas, Missy Elliott, H.E.R., Big Freedia, Davido, Frankie Beverly, Jermaine Dupri, MC Lyte, Pharrell Williams, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike (RBRM), Sheila E., Teddy Riley, Teyana Taylor, Timbaland, and more – a 25th anniversary celebration of 1994’s most culturally impactful and transformative albums that redefined pop culture will be curated and performed by the original artists. These include Mary J. Blige’s My Life, Nas’ Illmatic, Brandy’s Brandy, Method Man’s Tical, Scarface’s Diary, Big Daddy Kane’s Daddy’s Home, Da Brat’s Funkdafied, Slick Rick’s Behind Bars and Brownstone’s From the Bottom Up.
The 25th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival will also span more than 10 venues across New Orleans and encompass several new and enhanced curated experiences, including (**indicates new for 2019):
**Global Black Economic Forum – Attendees connect with today’s most seasoned corporate moguls and inspiring entrepreneurs, focused on building economic empowerment and generational wealth, featuring the Black CEO Roundtable, The Billionaire’s Forum, Entrepreneur’s Summit, relationship-building opportunities, and more.
**Fashion House – With ongoing accusations of cultural appropriation and tone-deafness in news and social headlines around the world, many major and luxury fashion brands continue to face issues around their appreciation, understanding, and representation of people of color globally. In addition, the increasing awareness that free promotion from cultural giants in the Black community bestow a lucrative cultural significance to these brands, but with little economic inclusion, and as Black creatives struggle to create and maintain significant business, this conundrum presents the challenge of how do we exercise our creative and economic influence for the benefit of our community. Focused on elevating the Black fashion community as well as the fashion experience for Black consumers, the Fashion House will provide the necessary tools for Black-owned brands to be successful and opportunities for major fashion brands to provide support, capital and partnerships for Black designers and consumers, as well as curate and showcase Black-owned brands via a shoppable designer trunk show and online Fashion House collaborations.
**Wellness House – The declining state of health and wellness in the Black community mandates that we do more – in more places, with more people – to educate and activate Black women and families around what it means to truly live well physically, mentally and emotionally. At the Wellness House, attendees will engage in an enlightening and inspiring environment focused on self-care, including educational and motivational conversations with some of today’s leading health and wellness experts; an array of fitness and wellness activities and programming; cooking and nutrition classes; wholesome and delicious food and more with nationally-renown speakers, instructors, trainers, chefs, and special guests.
**ESSENCE Black Excellence Awards
The ESSENCE Black Excellence Awards will embrace the triumph of everyday leaders in our communities; honoring trailblazers across disciplines including the Arts, Education, Entrepreneurship, Fashion, Film, Food, Music, Social Justice, Sports, Technology, Wellness and more. This elegant celebration of local and global heroes will also spotlight the impact of corporations, government and Black-owned businesses working collectively for the advancement of all.
**ESSENCE Food & Wine Festival – Foodies indulge in a wide range of mouthwatering selections at ESSENCE’s official culinary experience, featuring ‘ESSENCE Eats’ pop-ups at multiple locations throughout New Orleans.
ESSENCE Music Festival – The Festival’s 3-night, evening concert series will present more than 80 of the world’s greatest artists and performers across five stages, featuring artist-led curations, tribute moments and one-of-a-kind, only-at-ESSENCE collaborations, as well as a new intimate venue series called After Dark.
Beauty Carnival – Beauty enthusiasts pamper themselves in an immersive beauty experience designed to meet their individual needs. From live tutorials to curated shopping destinations, beauty fans explore a vivid spectacle of global beauty.
ESSENCE Film & TV Festival – Fans’ all-access to exclusive previews and screenings, appearances and meet & greets with the industry’s most popular casts and performers, featuring the Screening Room, Center Stage, and Fan Zone.
Power Stage – Audiences take in a range of empowering conversations with today’s most influential voices, tackling key issues around politics, love, and family, activism, wealth and more.
E-Suite – With a membership pass, subscribers access an exclusive suite for entrepreneurs and senior-level women in business. From panel conversations to recruitment opportunities with our partners, E-Suite is the Festival’s top destination for executives and entrepreneurs.
ESSENCE Marketplace – With participation from nearly 300 entrepreneurs, the ESSENCE Marketplace will offer a specially curated, daily retail experience across multiple destinations throughout New Orleans during the four-day weekend. Attendees will indulge in bespoke culinary, craft and retail shopping environments that present unique, culturally diverse and authentic offerings from around the world.
Day of Service/Girls United – The 2019 annual “Day of Service” – community reinvestment via projects around New Orleans focused on rehabilitation, beautification, and inspiration – will focus on ESSENCE Girls United, ESSENCE’s Gen Z platform and the mentoring initiative focused on helping this generation increase their academic potential, self-love and leadership skills. The day will culminate with ESSENCE Day in the Park – a community celebration at Louis Armstrong Park with music, food, and local vendors.
Weekend and single-night ticket packages for the evening Music Festival concert series are on sale now. For the first time ever, ESSENCE is introducing the 2019 Weekend VIP Power Pass, which provides access to a premium experience at all of the Festival’s ticketed events throughout the weekend, including the evening Music Festival, Fashion House, Beauty Carnival, ESSENCE Day in the Park, Wellness House and Power Stage, among other experiences to be announced.
For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE Festival® visit Essence.com/festival. Join the festival community: Follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of Festival on Facebook.
Sponsors for the 25th-anniversary ESSENCE Festival® include Coca-Cola, AT&T, Ford, McDonald’s, State Farm and Walmart. The ESSENCE Festival is produced by ESSENCE Communications Inc.
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