July 11, 2018

Blacker Than the Essence Fest

I’m finally back from Essence Fest 2018!

Let me first just say, this is my third time in New Orleans and it never disappoints! If you haven’t been, you have to put that on your to-do list asap. So where do I start? I arrived in NOLA on Thursday 7.5.2018, and I'll say the fun definitely started at the airport. There were groups of women ready to go with matching shirts, hats, and other accesories.

When we landed, we had to make a stop at my favorite restaurant in the city, Oceana Grill. There’s usually a line to get in but it is WORTH IT! Much of their menu consists of fried foods which are always seasoned so perfectly and truly make NOLA live up to the hype of having amazing food. (I'm also including a list of my favorite restaurants at the bottom of this post.)

Fried catfish platter

The rest of our first day was spent getting acquainted with the city and on Bourbon Street. So if you’ve ever been to NO, you know how much fun that was. 

 

The next day we had breakfast at another favorite spot, The Ruby Slipper Cafe. I had an omelet, biscuit, and grits. Many of the restaurant lines during the weekend were at about a three hour wait. This one was no different so needless to say buy the time we sat down to eat, I forgot to snap a picture. 

After breakfast, we headed over the the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center which is where many of the Essence festivities were happening. My favorite part about the convention center is going over to the natural hair brands and checking out their products and samples. We went from vendor to vendor and checked out what was going on on some of the main stages. There were panels, contest, performances, and so many other exciting things. Here’s a video of what was going on at the McDonalds #365black stage when I got there.

 

As a result of the movie “Girls Trip” last summer which was about four friends who got together to go to Essence Fest, the festival this year was PACKED! I would say that was the only downside to the weekend. I heard that 300,000 more people than usual attended this year. You'll have to confirm those numbers but it kind of put things into perspective. With that, the convention center was a little less enjoyable as we stood in lines for hours at the convention center, restaurants, and many other places. 

After this, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the concerts! The first show I caught was Snoop Dogg which was everything. Snoop did a lot of his hits, then brought out several gospel artists including, The Clark Sisters and Fred Hammond. Right after that we got to witness my favorite show of the weekend: The Roots, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. I’m a huge fan of all of these artists so to see them together was a real treat! 

 
 

The next day we got up early in hopes of getting through the lines at the convention center but it turned out to be even more crowded than the day before. We got through a few lines, walked around, and headed out after that. 

That night we headed to the concert for night two. We were able to catch everyones fav right now, Ella Mai first. Shortly after that we were blessed with Queen Latifah, Brandy, YoYo, MISSY ELLIOT, and Mary J Blige! All of these ladies were phenomenal and I left feeling more inspired than ever. 

 

On the last day, we got up for breakfast and headed over to Cafe Beignet. We ate breakfast and of course, beignets! We then had to do some New Orleans shopping of course! New Orleans has some of the best shopping you’ll every experience. There is a large mall on the River Walk that we went to before heading over to some of the local retailers. 

French Quarter

We then headed over to the Super Dome for the last night of the concert series. This is where we saw Fantasia and Janet Jackson to close out the weekend. 

Overall Essence Weekend was just as amazing as I remember two years ago. Everywhere you look there’s natural hair, good food and so many laughs. Being in New Orleans among other beautiful Black people and feeling like the majority and the not the minority is always the best feeling. I’m already looking forward to next year! 

If you're heading to NOLA, I've listed out a few of my favorite restaurants for you to try :) 

Oceana Grill

Cafe Du Monde

The Ruby Slipper

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