Monday, July 9, 2012

Visiting Louisiana: The 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival in New Orleans

Hi Butterflies! Guess what I did this past weekend? So...I finally gave in to my curiosity and went to #EssenceFest. The ESSENCE Music Festival is held annually every July 4th weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana hosted by Essence Magazine and to sum it up...I'm having mixed feelings about my experience and not sure if my first trip will be my last. Let me start by saying, I'm a planner by nature and most of the time I freak if things aren't planned out properly, organized right, or done a certain way (it's my OCD... I can't help it lol). I knew in advance my partner's family had already made plans to attend and I was invited but my decision to go was last minute so I didn't have much time to plan my agenda for the trip which is my fault and part of the reason I didn't get the "ESSENCE FESTIVAL" experience I was expecting.

We rented a van and drove to New Orleans from Houston which took about 6 hours. Hotels near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which is where the festival is usually held fill up fast and are extremely expensive, especially at the last minute so if you think you might want to attend next year's festival book your room months in advance. We stayed in a Courtyard Marriott north of New Orleans, over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. I didn't get any pictures but I had a complaint-free stay.

Fast forward to the festival, whatever you do get there early if you want to get parking as close to the festival as possible. We got to the festival on Saturday a few hours after it started and had to park in a lot really far from the main entrance. There isn't a cost to get in the festival's daytime events however, you will need a ticket for the evening concerts. As with any festival there was A LOT of walking and people everywhere! You will see a ton of celebrities throughout the festival, I saw Charlie WilsonBernadette StanislausRoland Martin, Malik Yoba, and Al Sharpton just walking around the festival. Each year the people at Essence schedule a wide variety of informative guest speakers to host empowerment seminars throughout the four day event and I didn't get to attend any of them because 1) this was a last minute trip and I didn't get to research any of the panels/discussions and  2) I was traveling with others (sad face) so I had to be mindful of that and not venture off like the explorer in me really wanted to. There were a couple of business, natural hair and finance panels that I wished I would have sat in on. There were also several major brand and new brand promotional booths throughout the festival which I really guys know I like trying new products lol. There's a little cafeteria type place in the Superdome which is were we ate, I had a grilled cheese sandwich and red beans & rice...yum!

Moving on to the concerts...The Kevin Hart: "Let Me Explain" comedy concert tour was apart of this year's entertainment lineup and I was able to attend the show! That was my first time attending a stand up comedy show and was HILARIOUS!  If you haven't seen it GO SEE IT! Also, I though the stairs in the Superdome were extremely steep so if you have big feet like me be careful you don't trip when climbing them. More advice, if you're planning to attend the festival: 1.) research hotels, things to do and ways to get around town if you want to venture out on your own (ie. public transportation, cabs, or private car service). If you are planning to go out on your own just be sure to let someone know where you're going and agree on a meet up location. 2.) pack comfortable clothes/shoes because it will be hot and you will have to do some walking. 3.) plan ahead, research the festival and all the festivities you would like to partake in so that you can plan your day accordingly. Are you a ESSENCE Music Festival regular? Please share your tips and advice below!

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