5 tips for planning the ultimate girls trip to Essence Festival
The annual Essence Festival in New Orleans is an awesome experience and the perfect time to getaway with the girls. This year it’s Jul. 4-7. From beauty products, to travel tips, to listening to powerful keynote speakers and hearing from your favorite black artist or actress about their upcoming project, it’s black culture on full display and you’ll enjoy every moment. Not only that, when else are going to see Miguel, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Big Freedia, and Janet Jackson perform, in the same venue?
Talk about empowerment, I haven’t seen that many black women in the same spot or on an airplane at the same time in a long time. You’ve got to do it once. When I went, I got to hear from the cast of “The Hate You Give,” talk about about the film before it came out, meet black authors, take home a slew of new beauty products, and meet young entrepreneurs and influencers at an off-site event.
With that said, here’s some tips to make the trip a success.
My sorority sisters and I started planning for the trip seven months in advance. We bought our concert tickets and had a home booked on AirBnB for all ten of us in December. Then, we realized it was a fake ad and had to find another. By then, all of the good homes on AirBnB were booked, so my line sister booked us a home on HomeAway. It ended up being an awesome choice. We decided to rent the home for a week because we felt it’d be more comfortable than a hotel. I enjoyed it and it wasn’t too expensive to use Lyft and Uber to get back and forth to the convention center and we always went in groups anyways. You’ll want to book your flight early too, especially if you live in a city with a lot of black people. Those flights sell out fast. My flight from Orlando to New Orleans on Southwest was $204 and I bought it in March.
You can buy tickets for one night of concerts or for the entire weekend. We chose to get the cheap seats for all three days. For all three nights, the ticket prices range from $225 to $3,000. We chose the cheap seats because we were buying ahead and didn’t know what the lineup of artists would be. I just wanted to be in the building, but wasn’t sure I’d even want to watch all of the concerts, so no need to go broke over them. Besides, there are concerts in other rooms besides the main stage, so no need to spend a lot on the main stage seats.
Pack light and think comfy
Essence Festival involves a lot of walking and standing on your feet. Be comfortable. It’s also hot outside. If you have issues walking or standing for a long time, it probably isn’t a trip you’ll enjoy. The convention center is huge and very crowded. You will want to have comfortable shoes on. Also, companies will give you tons of samples. Hair conditioners, lotions, shampoos, you name it. You’ll want to have room in your suitcase for those .That’s not including all of the black vendors there, hundreds of them. You’ll want to buy black art and clothes and books from them. So leave some room in your suitcase
Travel with a small group
We came as a group of 10. We had an amazing time! But, with so many seminars and events happening at the same time, it was extremely hard for all of us to want to do the same thing at the same time. If you want get a lot out of the festival, and its panels, my advice would be to go with a group of five or less. Honestly, going with one other person would be perfect because the festival is going to pull you in so many directions. You’ll look at the list of events and most of them will sound amazing and you’ll have to choose which one you want to attend because you can’t be in two places at one time. Also, look at the schedule before you arrive and as a group, decide what you want to attend if you plan to stay together. That way, you’re not wasting time when you get there debating what to go to and where to meet up.
Look up the parties
Along with the great seminars and workshops and speakers, there’s also lots of parties happening throughout the festival. Figure out which ones you want to go to ahead of time and get your tickets in advance so you wont spend your night waiting in a long line. If you’ve got a group of 5 or more, it’s probably best to get a table so you can skip the line. Different artists and celebrities will be at different parties so you’ll want to look up parties beforehand on Eventbrite because the tickets sell fast.
That’s pretty much all of the tips I have. If you’ve been to the festival and have some tips, share with us below.