“New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell bravely recommended yesterday that no large events take place in New Orleans in 2020, and ESSENCE fully supports that decision.  After continued monitoring of the evolving developments in the COVID-19 global pandemic and remaining in close contact and collaboration with our partners in the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, we are confirming today that we will no longer move forward with the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture live experience – and look forward to returning to New Orleans in 2021.


We are excited to now announce that our ‘ESSENCE Benefit Series to Fight COVID-19’ will raise money and provide support for businesses and organizations in Black communities across the country and that our first-ever ESSENCE Festival of Culture: The Virtual Edition taking place over July 4th weekend will be included in this effort as a multi-day experience and benefit celebration.  This Festival will be hosted on our new ESSENCE Studios streaming platform, which will extend the experience to communities everywhere providing unfettered access to the power, purpose, and party that has made the ESSENCE Festival the largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience in the world.  Women across the globe and their families will engage in interactive, live opportunities to be inspired, empowered, entertained and transformed as they enter a new economic, spiritual and wellness journey ahead.  The virtual Festival will be a benefit celebration in honor and support of the City of New Orleans, which has been an incredible partner over the Festival’s 26 years and continues to be especially hard hit during this crisis.

From the beginning, we have shared that the health, safety, and well-being of our Festival-goers, local citizens and others who contribute to making the Festival such a unique experience were our top concerns and would be the foremost considerations in our decision-making.  While we initially hoped that a reschedule from our July 2020 dates to later in the fall would be feasible, current information and projections by public health officials and agencies have made it increasingly clear that any large-scale events this year could potentially and unnecessarily put attendees and surrounding communities at risk.  So, what would have typically been a very difficult decision for us was not because people come first, and we will continue to do everything that we can to serve our community during this time.  We will honor all tickets sold for the 2020 Festival in 2021 and will also offer full refunds.  Ticket holders should visit for further information.


‘ESSENCE and the City of New Orleans have a partnership that thrives in good times and is made even stronger in challenging times,” said Mayor Cantrell.  ‘We share an uncompromised commitment to the best interest of our local community and our tourist community, and the priorities right now are providing support to those who have been affected by the disproportionate impact of the pandemic here in New Orleans and ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all.  We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our great city in 2021 for the return of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture and to once again helping to create such an unmatched and magical experience.”


‘We greatly appreciate the Essence family for working with the City of New Orleans and Louisiana as we face this ongoing public health crisis,’ said Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana.  ‘We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Essence family and look forward to continuing the celebration in 2021.’


We continue to understand that in these times, accurate information and critical resources from trusted sources are vital.  So, ESSENCE created the ESSENCE of the Matter: COVID-19’s Impact on Black America digital platform to provide Black women and communities with the tools, information, resources, solutions, inspiration, and empowerment needed to address the multitude of issues arising from this pandemic. ESSENCE Studios will deliver these live virtual experiences and produce the content our community needs as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time together and beyond.  Experiences to date have included our first-ever virtual ESSENCE Wellness Houseä and ESSENCE CARES Act information sessions, with the next – the  ESSENCE & New Voices Entrepreneur Summit – included in our Benefit Series and scheduled for Friday, April 24.  Visit  for more information.  In addition, our editorial team is producing daily content on our dedicated page to educate our community on the coronavirus, its impact, best practices for prevention and how we can not only survive, but thrive, through this time.’



WHAT: The 2019 ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola, the world’s largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience and the largest celebration of global Black culture, will keep the party going into the evening—announcing its official ESSENCE After Dark lineup. Festival-goers will be able to enjoy a culmination of late-night jam sessions, live podcasts and underground performances from Hip-Hop and Bounce to Reggae and Afrobeats – from July 4th-7th following the nightly concerts. Tickets on sale now at!


WHO: Initial performers taking over the late-night scene during ESSENCE After Dark includes an exciting mashup of emerging and established musicians, DJ’s and personalities who represent our diverse, global culture.

**More to be announced soon, including new Comedy experiences.

Thursday, July 4th:

Women in Hip-Hop presented by MC Lyte

Featuring: Yo-Yo, Rapsody, Trina, MuMu Fresh, Music by DJ K Rock and DJ Jermaine

Time: 10PM – 2AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


Friday, July 5th:

Reggae X Afrobeats presented by Estelle

Featuring: Spice, Rotimi, Machel Montano, Wale,  Kranium, Rafiya, Nick & Navi, Music by DJ Max Glazer and DJ Shacia Marley

Time: 10PM – 2AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


The Come Up

Featuring: Danileigh, Nicole Bus, Angelica Vila, Bri Steves, Music by DJ M.O.S.

Time: 10PM- 2 AM

Location: Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


Saturday, July 6th:

Teddy’s Jam

Featuring Guy and Blackstreet, Music by DJ M.O.S.

Time: 10PM – 2 AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


ESSENCE Underground: The Femme Fatales

Featuring: Young Devyn, Dreezy, Young M.A., Music by DJ Niena Drake

Time: 10PM- 2 AM

Location: Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Jesus and Jollof Live with Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji, Music by DJ Niena Drake

Time: Doors at 5:30 PM // Showtime 6:30 PM

Location: Orpheum Theater, 129 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112


Sunday, July 7th:

Beats & Bounce

Featuring: Big Freedia, Soul Rebels and More, Music by Mannie Fresh and DJ Niena Drake

Time: 10PM – 2 AM

Location: Republic Nola, 828 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The Underground Lituation

Featuring: Shawn Smith, Oswin Benjamin, Christian “King” Combs, August Alsina, Music by DJ M.O.S.

Time: 10PM- 2 AM

Location: Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130


NOTES: In addition, the 2019 ESSENCE Festival® will feature over 80 performing artists for its nightly concert series, plus a daily line-up of diverse, can’t-miss enrichment and entertainment programming, including the ESSENCE Beauty Carnival, ESSENCE Fashion House, ESSENCE Wellness House, Film and Television Festival, and Global Black Economic Forum, among others. Register now for the many free ESSENCE Festival experiences at

Sponsors for the 25th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival are Coca-Cola, AT&T, McDonald’s, Ford, State Farm, and Walmart.