I know what you’re thinking…Yes, this is yet another post about Essence Fest 2015, but don’t worry. This
will should be the last one! 😉 I just want to quickly shed some insight for those of you that have never been to Essence Fest/NOLA and may be thinking about heading there next year.
Here are some things that I either would have done differently or that I wish I had been prepared for before heading to the Big Easy:
1. Get a hotel in the French Quarter or close to it.
Although I loved the spacious 3-bedroom apartment we found on Airbnb in the Filmore neighborhood (subdistrict of Gentilly), I would recommend getting a hotel downtown so that you can be in the center of the action. Maybe not on Bourbon Street so that you can get some sleep (if you plan on sleeping), but a few blocks over from it. This way you can be within walking distance of French Quarter attractions as well as a short cab ride away from the Mercedes Benz Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for all of the Essence Fest events. Since we were a 15-25 min drive from the French Quarter and the Essence Fest events, having a rental car was great, but it did prevent us from really exploring on foot. I think we would have made better use of our time if we were already close to most of the action and didn’t have to drive to it.
2. Plan on getting up early if you want to see any of the empowerment speakers.
Each day, you will need to be at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as soon as they open if you plan on seeing any empowerment speakers for that day. The events at the convention center are free and open to the public. This means there may be a ton of people trying to see the same speakers or attend the same workshops as you. You can only grab tickets for events on the day that they will take place; you can’t get the next day’s tickets in advance. The upside is that you can get tickets for yourself and your friends so everyone doesn’t have to show up early to get the tickets if they don’t want to.
3. Plan on not sleeping.
If you come to New Orleans during Essence Fest, you probably will get very little sleep because you won’t want to go home after the concerts in the evening. You probably will want to hit up the French Quarter. That will make it harder for you to get up early and make the most out of the free daily events at the convention center (see number 2). Bring a pack of Red Bull in your suitcase, prepare to guzzle some coffee, or just mentally prepare yourself to be a drunk zombie during your entire trip.
4. Keep that itinerary short.
You will not get to do half of the things you planned to do while in New Orleans.
Most people probably aren’t anal enough as me to make an itinerary, but if you are, know that you won’t get to do half of the things on there. Essence Fest has enough activities to keep you engaged all day, which makes it hard to take time to explore the diverse neighborhoods and dining options in NOLA.
5. You won’t see all of your fav musical performances. Be choosey.
You probably won’t get to see all of the artists that you want to see during the evening concerts at the Superdome. There’s very little time between the main stage performances and the superlounge concerts, which is probably intentional. If the performances didn’t overlap a little, there wouldn’t be nearly enough room in the superlounges. The superlounge concerts are a lot more intimate than the main stage performances. If you get to a superlounge early enough, you could end up standing at the front of the stage. However, getting there early would mean missing a good chunk of the main stage performance happening at the moment. I missed out seeing Raheem Devaughn perform in a superlounge, which I heard was amazing, only to see a disappointing mainstage performance by Missy Elliot. I’m still pissed at myself about that. Be warned!
Have you been to Essence Fest this year or in previous years? What would you do differently if you go again?