Get your Girls Trip booked, y’all, because the Essence Festival of Culture is making its long-awaited return to New Orleans next year! After two years of going virtual in response to the ongoing pandemic, on Wednesday, parent company Essence Communications, Inc. announced the 27-year-old festival—the nation’s largest festival by per day attendance—will resume its in-person format in its adopted city from June 30 to July 3, 2022. The theme? “It’s the Black Joy for Me!”
If you’re not ready to commit to traveling quite yet, no worries. According a press release to The Root, Essence Fest will be retaining its virtual format, too—including live streaming of select on-the-ground events in New Orleans, and “new and exclusive digital content and experiences.” It’s a hybrid approach festival organizers are calling “phygital.”
After pivoting to a virtual experience in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the Essence Festival will host a fully live gathering for the first time in two years, celebrating the culture and resilience of the Black community with the theme “It’s the Black Joy for Me!” In addition, with its strong digital performance – including a 65% increase in Festival content streams from 2020 (45 million) to 2021 (70+ million), the Essence Festival of Culture will build on the global audience gained via its virtual programming to continue to deliver a comprehensive and engaging digital experience to attendees both live and around the world.
After being especially hard hit by both the initial spread of coronavirus and surviving Hurricane Ida this September, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s announcement of Essence Fest’s homecoming was triumphant.
“We are elated to announce the return of the Essence Festival to New Orleans in the Summer of 2022,” she said in a statement. “Essence brings so much to our city and our economy, and I can’t wait to see what this year has to offer. The City of New Orleans and the Essence Festival are inextricably linked through our remarkable history and our steadfast focus on and commitment to culture, community, and economic inclusion. We look forward to continuing this partnership to create an even deeper legacy of impact and inclusion for our city and for all who will join us in July to make this experience the best yet.”
Returning to its longtime home at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, “the unparalleled live experience” will once again include “nearly one million square feet of empowerment programming,” the release boasts. As always, its slate of interactive events will cover networking, finance, career, wellness, fashion, beauty and more.
And of course, attendees can look forward to nightly concerts at Caesars Superdome—as well as other “entertaining and inspirational activations” throughout New Orleans—though the schedules and talent line-up won’t be announced until January 2022.
“The reimagining of the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans as a phygital—fully physical and fully digital—experience will be epic,” said Caroline Wanga, CEO, Essence Communications, Inc. “Given what we have collectively experienced over the last two years, the opportunity to convene and uplift in the spirit of culture, equity, celebration—and joy—is more of a privilege and honor than it has ever been. We look forward to our homecoming in the City of New Orleans and to strengthening our impact as a cornerstone of Black culture, entrepreneurship and economic inclusion—working always to serve Black women and communities deeply.”
For additional details on the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture—including ticketing and COVID protocols (which will be based on recommended guidance from Public Health Agencies and the City of New Orleans), visit www.essencefestival.com.