Essence Festival 2019: Beyond The Music


Photo Credit: David Williams

The 2019 Annual Essence Festival continues its track of expansion in audience, scope, and influence – both on social and economic levels.  Last years event brought in well over 500,000 attendees and $280 million in city revenue. The four-day event incorporates more of Louisiana’s black and minority-owned businesses via initiatives created by Essence’s new black owner, Richelieu Dennis. 

With the 25th annual event promising a bigger, deeper, and more impactful experience, attendees will need to use a map of downtown New Orleans in order to navigate additional attractions that have evolved out of the host Ernest Morial Convention Center.  Michelle Obama’s 2019 appearance will be held in the Superdome as well as additional attractions that will take place in various sites throughout the Central Business District. Additional information is detailed below. 

For a global perspective of the annual event, Essence Festival 2019 can be broken down into three main categories: Festivals, Conferences, and Exhibitions.

Essence Festivals 

Photo Credit: Essence.com

Essence festivals consist of:

  • The highly anticipated music festival (2019 performances such as Maze, Big Freedia, Nas, and Tasha Cobbs) 
  • Essence After Dark (musical performances between 10pm and 2am)
  • Entertainment All-Access (live interviews and first-to-see movie previews)
  • Food & Wine Festival

Important to note: the food festival (Essence Eats) has expanded across the city of New Orleans via Essence Passport 25.  The Passport consists of Black-owned food businesses offering special discounts during the Festival.  Attendees can refer to the official Essence Festival app to see participating businesses, such as Willie Mae’s Scotch House who is offering a complimentary item for every $25 spent.   

Essence Conferences

Photo Credit: Executive Leadership Council

Beyond the music and entertainment aspect of the annual gathering, Essence conferences inspire, motivate, and empower attendees through the Power Conference, the Global Black Economic Forum, and E-Suite.  

  • The Power Conference (Free Admission)

The Power Stage is active Friday and Saturday, 10am – 6pm in the Convention Center.  The 2019 list of speakers range from a host of black, female mayors around the country (including Mayor Cantrell) to Iyanla Vanzant, Pharell Williams, Killer Mike, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and several more.  Attendees can expect to hear a plethora of topics, including but not limited to politics, community and activism, and establishing wealth.  

  • E-Suite (Purchase Tickets for $120/day + taxes and fees)

The E-Suite is held Friday and Saturday, 9am – 4pm at the Contemporary Arts Center.  The E-Suite experienced is focused on senior-level women in business. Discussions in the E-Suite focus on career advancement and elite access toward highly sought after professional opportunities.  

  • The Global Black Economic Forum (Purchase Tickets for $180/day + taxes and fees)

The Global Black Economic Forum is held on Friday and Saturday, 9am – 4pm at the Contemporary Arts Center.  A ticket to this forum will include conversations from CEOs and business leaders. It will also include panel discussions focused on building economic empowerment and generational wealth.  Speakers include cofounder of Andreessen, Ben Horowitz; Bernard Tyson of Kaiser Permanente; CEO of Chase Customer Banking, Thasunda Duckett; Marc Morial of the National Urban League, and several others.   

Important to note: the official Essence Festival app will continue to update with additional speakers, interviews, and general sessions as the date approaches.  

Essence Exhibitions

Photo Credit: @Iamloveincarnate

There are several Essence exhibitions taking place in a variety of locations: 

  • The Beauty Carnival (Free admission or purchase a $55 or $90/day ticket + tax/fees)

Anyone who has attended Essence Festival is familiar with the extraordinarily long lines that form at participating beauty stands, giving those waiting the opportunity for amazing free products – while supplies last.  For serious beauty goers who aim to skip the lines, there is an option to purchase a $55 general admission ticket or $90 VIP pass. The VIP pass grants access to intimate interaction with top beauty influencers.  The Beauty Carnival takes place inside the Convention Center from July 5th – 7th, 9:30am to 6pm.  

  • The Fashion House (Purchase general admission for $30/day; VIP $100/day + tax/fees)

“…Runway shows, trunks shows, and pop up shops brought to you by household names and rising Black designers” – if fashion is your forte, you must be in attendance at the Essence Fashion House.  The Fashion House will be open July 5th – July 7th at Gallier Hall on St. Charles. Featured speakers at the Fashion House include guests such as Common, Karl Kani, Dapper Dan, and June Ambrose.  

  • The Wellness House (Purchase $15/day general admission or $75/day exclusive pass)

Pack your healing crystals and head over to the Wellness House, located inside the Lighthouse Glass Gallery on 743 Camp Street.  The two day wellness retreat will include meditative practices, yoga, massage, a variety of group workouts and panel conversations on healthy living.  Guests speakers such as Boris and Nicole Parker and Black Girls Workout, Too will be present to motivate and inspire.  Tickets must be purchased: general admission is $15/day and $75/day for a Wellness Enthusiast pass (includes 3 group wellness classes).  

  • Career Recruitment Hub (Free Admission)

Essence Festival is partnered with organizations such as Disney, Facebook, and Hilton to recruit individuals driven towards careers in the tech industry.  Interested applicants are required to sign up and also bring their resumes to the Contemporary Arts Center on July 5th and 6th, between 9am and 4pm.  


Nicole Nixon is a dedicated wife and mother who values leadership and business. Motivated by her husband and her son, she is vested in the empowerment and positive commercialization of black men in America.

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