After Going Virtual in 2020, Essence Festival Announces a 'Hybrid' Format for 2021

Kamala Harris speaks on stage at 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola on July 06, 2019 in New Orleans, La.
Kamala Harris speaks on stage at 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola on July 06, 2019 in New Orleans, La.
Photo: Paras Griffin (Getty Images)

The Girls Trip must go on—primarily online. After a year of lockdowns, we could all use a getaway, and miss our yearly turn up sojourn to the world’s biggest, Blackest and most bodacious family reunion imaginable in New Orleans (more than half a million people over July 4th weekend, to be exact). However, an ongoing pandemic has other plans—and means another necessary pivot for the annual Essence Festival of Music & Culture.


After taking the multi-day festival online last year (with remarkable success, as its virtual format charted over 45 million full streams across all platforms and 70 million of related content), Essence announced on Thursday afternoon it will adopt a “hybrid” format for 2021.

Per a press release.

This year, with the theme ‘Live Loud,’ Essence is thrilled to curate an invaluable hybrid experience that offers the best of in-person and virtual worlds via a celebration of the resilience, power and achievement of our community and the omnipresence of our culture. The Festival’s virtual programming will include powerful daytime interactive sessions and star-studded evening concerts and connections. Also, in continued partnership with the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana and under strict adherence to guidance from health agencies, Essence will produce live-to-tape activations available only to local New Orleans and Louisiana residents, honoring essential workers and first responders.

The in-person experience may be limited and local, but Essence Fest’s dates will expand to accommodate “a jam-packed schedule of can’t-miss content centered around culture, equity and celebration,” all of which will be broadcast via Essence Studios over two long weekends (Friday to Sunday), June 25-27 and July 2-4.

So, no...we won’t be descending en masse upon NOLA this year, but the festival nevertheless promises to present a ‘taste of New Orleans.’ For ongoing updates and information—including those always anticipated talent announcements, visit

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?