The annual Essence Festival of Culture, or simply put, Essence Fest, has been a staple in New Orleans since it's initial inception in 1995. Thanks to a recent contract extension announced by Gov. Edwards and Mayor Cantrell, the festival won't be going anywhere any time soon-or at least for the next 5 years.
Essence officials announced that this contract extension will keep the festival in New Orleans through 2024. The Essence Fest always takes place during the first weekend of July, typically coinciding with Independence Day. However, in 2020, they will be implementing something new. Instead of the Friday-Sunday schedule that entails panels and other sorts of demos at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center followed by a mega-concert at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome each night, the festival will now expand its daytime activities from July 1-5, while the concerts will still stay on the weekends, July 3-5. In addition to the daytime activities and nighttime concerts, in 2019 the festival added "Essence After Dark", which is a series of performances at venues around town.
The attendance for the Essence Festival averages in the hundreds of thousands, and the annual economic impact is believed to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.