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How I’ve planned for the Essence Festival for the past 10 years

How I’ve planned for the Essence Festival for the past 10 years


This is how “I” plan for the Essence Festival every year. This should be used as a tool and not professional traveling advice.

8-11 months prior
Book your room

Between August –November I book a hotel room in the French Quarters.

Why only the French Quarters and not Kenner, Metairie or other hotels outside the French Quarters?

2 reasons: Convenience and Parking

During the Essence Festival, ALL Essence Festival activities/events will be somewhere inside the French Quarters. Therefore, I can either walk, catch the trolly or Uber/Lyft to my destination. This also cuts out the need for a rental car, which in return, cuts out the need to pay for parking or even find a parking spot. The traffic is horrid, and honestly, you will get most places faster on foot.

BRING WALKING SHOES! Invest in cute cushioned sandals and leave your heels at home! You will look like a baby deer by midnight, and yes, even if you don’t partake in any parties, chances are you will be out until well after midnight.

4-6 months prior
Book your flight

For years, I have always flown Southwest because you can’t go wrong with 2 free bags, free change fees and open seating, however, after the 737 Boeing Crisis, Southwest has had delays and cancelations that will turn your 3 hour plane ride home in 12-15 hours. Plan accordingly.


For novice travelers, I still recommend flying Southwest because they have plenty of flight times and will add more as the months move forward in case you need to change around your flight times…and again, you get 2 free bags and you will need 2 bags. You are guaranteed to change at least once or twice a day because it is hot and the parties are hotter. The Essence Festival is notorious for day parties and you will have to change by 8pm. (This is also a convenient reason to stay in the French Quarters because your hotel is close and you can change and get right back to the fun).

2-4 months prior
Buy Event, Party and Concert Tickets

Check Eventbrite, join some Essence Festival Facebook groups, check and follow Essence Festival to start considering which parties, concerts and events you want to attend. A lot of events have early bird special that will save you A LOT OF MONEY! However, be warned, you probably won’t make many of the events. The Essence Festival has so much to offer that you often times will be caught up in one place and never make it to the second. My advice is to pick one event per day, and wing the others. You cannot do it all, that is one of the reasons people return every year. It’s impossible to make it to all the events, concerts, exhibits and seminars. And if you thought Essence Festival was a good time to tour the city, good luck. There is so much to do that your swamp and haunted house tour will take a backseat to the unique African American catered events. Oh but DO bring money to eat, cause you won’t be able to resist the food.

One more tip: If you are going to the concerts (I only recommend one the entire weekend if you are under 50. The parties and events are much more entertaining) buy it DIRECTLY from ticketmaster and if you do not care where you sit, wait until you get there to buy tickets, it’s the superdome, and will almost NEVER be sold out.

0-3 months prior
Weigh your options
Continue checking hotel rates and flight deals(especially if you booked with Southwest) as prices drop a lot. You may have had plans on staying in one place but then notice another for a dirt cheap price. It is best to book directly through the hotel to avoid any confusion. I have heard nightmares about third party site reservations being canceled or no record of the reservation. And even if you have the receipt, the hotel may have sold the room anyway and have nowhere to accommodate you inside the French Quarter. (Remember in the girls trip movie when Tiffany Haddish’s character got them kicked out of the hotel and they ended up staying in a roach infested hotel, yea that could totally happen and I have had a roommate get kicked out of our hotel before.)


What about air B&B?
I know people who have had good experiences. I know people who have not. It is a hit or miss situation. Personally I like towel service, the concierge and other people to account for my whereabouts. I have also made some lifelong friends in the lobby and elevators of hotels and met celebrities too.


Why is it so expensive! For those prices, I could go to Dubai!
Essence Festival is a one-of-a-kind experience that has yet to be replicated on the caliber of culture and authentic experiences designed specifically to be enjoyed by African Americans.  This means a few things:

1- It is the LARGEST African American Festival IN THE WORLD! While places like Dubai will provide a beautiful scenic experience, Essence is one of the only places that specifically celebrates the Black Woman with seminars, workshops and experiences all centered around the Black Woman. You will not have the networking opportunities, the celebration of African Americans and the sheer joy of being around OUR people the way you will at the festival.

2- I have never seen a fight or violence, this is probably because the rift-raft cannot afford nor want to pay for this type of trip and they end up somewhere else for the4th of July weekend.

3- Simple, supply and demand.

Should I just get a travel agent?
If you do not have a credit card, would rather do a payment plan or just can’t keep up with the instructions above, then yes, a travel agent may be a good option. Sometimes there rates are great. Sometimes they add parties and events in their package, sometimes things just don’t line up right.

Click HERE for a current list of travel agents that we can vouch for as legit travel agencies. And yes, there are some who aren’t, as a matter of fact, there were some major fraud issues surrounding a few travel agents and a lot of good ones got looped in that didn’t have anything to do with the issues.

Check out some Blogs about Essence Festival:

Sites to visit:
FB Group: Essence Festival and Friends

Please note that some sites have not yet been updated with 2022 Essence Festival events, party and concert information.

How I’ve planned for the Essence Festival for the past 10 years

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