2018 Essence Festival: What To Expect

  • Expect to have 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 are 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 since it was early in the morning I could slip into the gym and out.  Well, I was wrong. Throughout our stay, we saw Kevin Hart and Will Packer as guests in our hotel.  All of 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. 🙂

  • Nola is filled with 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. There were a ton of options to choose from.

  • Bourbon Street is umm,  let’s just say it was a different experience. The times I visited the street seemed filled with a lot of young locals. I’m pretty sure I was called Ma’am at one point. However, if you’ve never been check it, even if it’s just to say you went on Bourbon Street.

  • There is a lot 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. I am at that age where I prefer comfort. 🙂

  • You will see mostly couples and girl squads. Be mindful of the magazine’s audience. I didn’t see many single guys at Essence Fest, so if you’re a single woman, don’t get your hopes up.

  • Check out the convention center during the day. The concerts are held at the Superdome but don’t forget the other events that take place in the convention center. Get there early if you want to participate in the meet and greets with celebrities as 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.

  • Don’t forget the 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.

  • Try a specialty drink. From the fishbowls to the grenades, NOLA offers an assortment of signature drinks that you must try.



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. View deals in New Orleans

What do you look forward to during your trip to Essence Festival? If you’ve attended, what are some other things to expect? Comment Below!

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Kim H.

Kim H. is the creator and chief editor for Work Hard Travel Well. Born and raised in College Park, Ga. She is a true "FILA" :) and UGA Alumna. Go Dawgs!