Going on vacation with a group of women that love to have a good time is priceless. I’m always down for a good road trip. You make countless stops, laugh, cry, eat and then eventually land at your destination. For us it was New Orleans, Louisiana to attend the 2018 Essence Festival.
That cute lil intenrary got thrown out the window…and it was perfectly okay! Many of us were Essence Festival virgins which made the experience even better, because we truly had no idea about the treat we were in for.
We arrived on a Thursday, and stayed in Metarie, LA, which was about 15 minutes outside of New Orleans. Our accommodations were great and perfect for a group of our size. On day one we relaxed for a bit, then decided to go to the casino and hit up a party afterwards.
Word of caution, janky promoters do exist and they got us good. We were all dressed up and feeling nice when we pulled up to the party location only to be denied entry along with several hundred other people because the building was at capacity. Here’s the thing though, they were still selling tickets!! How sway? Our Uber driver more than made up for the disappointment though. He helped us girls get a lil turnt up on the ride back to the hotel and honestly it wasn’t a bad way to end the night.
We hit the ground running on day two. Checked out the French Market and I enjoyed some delicious blackened red fish with a crawfish sauce by World’s Famous N’awlins, a fourth generation black owned business. We had a chance to get some shopping in down at the French Quarter. This is where I purchased a really elegant face-mask just in time for this year’s masquerade ball. The beignets at Cafe Du Monde were delicious – light and fluffy and covered with mounds of powdered sugar.
Once back at the hotel we were able to relax and prepare for the concert later on that night. Of course we had to pregame and that we did! Listen, I didn’t know Tito before NOLA, but I know him well now!!!!
The roster for our Friday night concert was dope! Snoop, Jill Scott, The Roots, Erykah Badu, along with special guest, John P. Kee, Kirk Frankland, The Clark Sisters, and Fred Hammond. Snoop is the truly the GOAT for bringing out John P. Kee, The Clark Sisters and Fred Hammond on his set. It got churchy really quick and the crowd was all in. I don’t know what God is doing in Snoop’s life, but whatever it is don’t stop!
Talk about black girl magic and black excellence, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and the Roots all graced the stage at once!!! Oh my goodness, I love, love, love skilled musicians and to have them in one setting together on stage was all that a lady could have asked for. We danced swayed and sang along well into midnight.
After all of that excitement my feet had a song of their own. You really don’t feel the pain until you’re being still, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for nothing in the world.
On day three we set out to attend the different events at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. This is where one could find both breakout and general sessions, cast appearances, documentary screenings, performances, celebrity conversations, and shopping. Because there was so much to do, we walked around and visited as many booths as we could. The mini concerts were amazing. We had a chance to snag a picture with two members of the #1 R&B group June’s Diary. There were several DJ’s through out the building all throwing it down.
The atmosphere was full of love and laughter. There were multiple talented black artist selling their work which was gorgeous. The highlight of the day was the closeout by the First Line. I will remember that moment for as long as I live. Everyone gathered around with excitement and danced to those melodic drums and horns as they led us through convention center and eventually out into the streets where the celebration continued for quite sometime.
After having such a wonderful time at the convention center, we were in the hunt for some good food. We wanted to attend some of the more popular restaurants nearby, but the lines at most of those places stretched around the corner. We decided to hit up ACME Oyster House, in Metairie and they did not disappoint. I had the chicken-seafood gumbo and shrimp n’ crab etouffee. Dinner that night was the perfect exclamation point to a fabulous weekend.
If you plan on attending next year’s Essence Festival there a few things you may want to keep in mind.
- Wear comfortable shoes even to the concerts. You will do a great deal of walking and those concerts last well into midnight. So, don’t be so hard on your feet.
- Try to book directly from Essence approved sites or work with a travel agent that has a good booking history. If a deal sounds to good to be true, that’s because it probably is. Thank you Marci P., President of Travel with Marci for booking our trip. Our accommodations were on point and we were not short on drinks….yasss!!!
- Download the Essence Application on your phone. The app contains maps, event schedules, QR codes and scannable tickets for events you sign-up for. You can also upload pictures.
- Consider staying outside of New Orleans, you may be surprised at the rates. Our accommodations included a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, free hot breakfast and free parking.
- If you’re traveling with a large group and don’t have a rental car Uber or Lyft are good options. Break up your group though, so you can get a cheaper rate. With large groups you have to get the premium service and this costs more.
- Also, when you are ready to leave your destination, walk as far away from main area as possible. Doing this could save you money on your trip. The drivers don’t like getting caught up in the crowd and will cancel your trip.
- If you purchase tickets to outside events, use your credit card in the event you have to dispute charges.
- Plan to get to your event at least two hours early, chances are there will be hundreds of people trying to attend that same event. Some promoters will still sell tickets even when they are at capacity.
- Be sure to take a portable charger with you. Chances are you will be taking a lot of pictures and video which can drain your battery pretty quickly. You will definitely want to have juice in case of an emergency.
The Essence Festival has been placed on my must go annually trip list. The people, the food, and the music was all love. I got nothing but love for you NOLA! Essence you did that! Crowd control was on point, no heavy police presence, events started and ended on time.
Whelp, that’s all I got folks!!!