ESSENCE Festival is less than a week away and we’re geeked! Of course, you’ve bought your ticket and outfits, right? Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the best event of the summer!

The lineup is ridiculous this year (that’s a good thing)! With headlining performances by the ever most amazing Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, and Chaka Khan we’re bound to dance! I’m ready to vibe out to John Legend, Jill Scott, India Irie and Solange. And let’s not forget ESSENCE continues to give us more hip hop options every year like Master P, Chance the Rapper, Shaggy and Remy Ma.

But I’m sure you already know the who’s who in the lineup. More importantly, I’m sure you’re interested in the lagniappe. We love ESSENCE and all that it offers, but what’s a good girl’s trip or guy’s trip without the best eats, after hours spots, local bars, celebrity hosted events and places off the beaten path that really make New Orleans the best city in the World!

WHERE TO EAT:

Lil Dizzy’s: The best “down home” breakfast buffet

Half Shell: Dragos wait is too long or Acme Oyster House line too long, try Half Shell 

Cafe Dauphine: The off the beaten path, but worth the drive 

Boswell’s: One of New Orleans few, but best Jamaican restaurants

Roux Carre: If you’re willing to venture to support small businesses

Dookie Chase: Who hasn’t heard of this place!

Willie Mae’s: The World’s Best Fried Chicken

FrootOrleans: Fresh cut fruit made to order

Taylor Made Wingz: You can’t go wrong with chicken wings

Trolley Stop: This is your late night go-to breakfast spot

Port of Call: Big burger, even bigger baked potato and Monsoon will set you back a day

Cafe Du Monde: The best dessert to end a great evening.

Insider’s Tip: You must find the late night BBQ men on the corners of:

  1. Royal & Elysian Fields (near Frenchman St.)
  2. Andrew Higgins & Tchoupitoulas  (near Metro)

WHERE TO DRINK:

Victory: You’ll love the drinks so much you may end up taking shots with strangers.

Three Keys @ Ace Hotel: Enjoy a great DJ set or live music from a local musician

Troubadour: Thank God for rooftop bars! 

The Ponchartrain Hotel: You’ll love the ambiance! 

Mother in Law Lounge: Cheap drinks and a good time with Kermit Ruffins

 

WHAT TO DO DURING THE DAY:

As you all know, ESSENCE hosts a great daytime event in the Morial Convention Center (900 Convention Center Blvd) every year. Some of the largest Brands in the world have booths that host celebrities on their stages. Expect mini concerts, giveaways, games, and lots of people watching. There’s also Path to Power Conference, Beauty Style Expo, Day of Service and Entertainment All Access.

If you’re into more of a seated experience, ESSENCE also hosts the Empowerment Stage. The Empowerment stage hosts all of your must-see panels, fireside chats and this year the Sunday Gospel pays tribute to Cissy Houston.

DAY EVENTS/PARTIES:

Kidnap Screening

NETFLIX Screening Premieres

Camila Rose Comes Home

Morton Records Day Party BBQ

Free Pantene Gold Series giveaways; music by DJ G-Cue, 3D Na-Tee, and Denisia; and BBQ, thanks to NOLA’s own PJ Morton. Free admission.

 

Shea Moisture Pop Up Shop

 

 

 The Good Life Day Party

Manes, Martinis and Massages

Red Clay Soul Presents GLASSHOUSE

3pm-8pm

You can always find us at a RedClaySoul event! Be sure and end your festival weekend with RCS Sunday, July 2nd for the #GlassHouse Day Party live at New Orleans Jazz Market. Enjoy lite bites, 2 dope DJs: DJ Chris Major and RQAway, an incredible venue. Cool down with cocktails from Avion Tequila, Absolut Lime, and Martell! FREE until 5 pm with RSVP.

WHERE TO GO AT NIGHT:

Of course, the reason you’re here is for the shows. After the show is the after party. Don’t go to Bourbon! There’s so much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street. If you must go, don’t go at night. Go during the day. Leave Bourbon Street for Mardi Gras. If you’re looking for live music off the beaten path, check out Robin Barnes at the Carousel Bar on Friday. We love Frenchmen Street. Get an Uber and explore our beloved city. For all your celebrity-hosted events, we suggest you check out a few suggestions below.

Thursday, June 29 – Sunday, July 2

If It Aint Here We Go – Festival Weekend Takeover

Here We Go Ent. has been notorious for throwing some of the bests parties for major events happening in the city for years. Who remembers that All-Star weekend with Diddy and Drake (sorry, we HAD to!). Each night they are sure to bring out all the celebrities. Get your tickets early and do NOT wait for a grand appearance at midnight. You’ll only appear to everyone else waiting outside in line, no joke.

Saturday, July 1

Black Men With Beards: All White Flight Bike Ride

“The All White Flight” a VIP Bike Ride during one of the biggest celebrations of Black Excellence: Essence Festival! Sip on some #BeardJuice, our signature drink while riding through the heart of New Orleans before ending at 14 Parishes where our official after party #TheGLOUp will take place!

BMWB Gift Bags given to the first 50 ticket holders!

Bike Ride purchases include FREE entry into #TheGLOUp. ALL WHITE IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED.

Noirlinians Afrobeat Party

We’re back at it again with another Afrobeat party. Come ready to dance, wear your most fly prints you can get down.

Grits & Biscuits