7 Tips To Make An Unforgettable Essence Festival Weekend in New Orleans

What are some tips for creating a memorable Essence Fest weekend in New Orleans?


For Essence Festival goers, the options for where to stay, eat, and explore can seem endless. With so many choices, it can be hard to know where to start.


That's why I've put together this guide to help you out. Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned fest-goer (or just looking for some ideas for your next trip to New Orleans), I've got you covered.


So get ready to enjoy all the fun and excitement New Orleans offers!

The bedroom at the Higgins hotel. The best place to stay for Essence Festival weekend in New Orleans
Enjoying a glass of wine in my room at Higgins Hotel.

Where To Stay Essence Festival Weekend in New Orleans

Tip #1: Don't wait to book your hotel!

Hotels begin accepting reservations the moment they announce the festival. More options will be available for you to choose where you and your friends would like to stay during Essence Festival.


Tip #2: Know the location

Determining how far a hotel is from the airport or how long it would take to walk to the Convention Center or the Superdome can be extremely helpful when narrowing down your hotel choices for your weekend in New Orleans.


I stayed at The Higgins Hotel New Orleans, located in the heart of the Arts & Warehouse District. The location was perfect– 5 mins away driving from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and 7 mins away from the Superdome!

The bed in the Higgins Hotel and the bathroom with an amazing HD mirror which is perfect for applying makeup.


The Higgins Hotel is a fantastic location for festival-goers! Guests and visitors can also enjoy onsite dining options such as Café Normandie and Rosie's On The Roof before enjoying all of the fun Essence festivities.


With spacious, modern beds and luxurious era-inspired décor, the Higgins Hotel rooms are comfortable, elegant, and stylish. Head to my Instagram for a tour of my room at the Higgins Hotel!


Where to Eat

Tip #3: Call ahead to make reservations at restaurants

Even though many restaurants provide walk-in options, I recommend that you make a reservation in advance to avoid waiting in line. You can enjoy savory gumbo, jambalaya, Po' Boy sandwiches around downtown hotels, and even the famous powdered sugar beignets at Café Du Monde.


Beautiful, luxury decor of dining area of Café Normandie  area at Café Normandie for Essence Festival Weekend in New Orleans
The dining area of Café Normandie

Beacon cheese burger and french fries with a mimosa for brunch at Café Normandie at Essence Festival Weekend in New Orleans
Beacon cheese burger and french fries with a mimosa for brunch at Café Normandie

In addition to Café Normandie and Rosie's On The Roof, located in the Higgins hotel, below are some more restaurant recommendations for your weekend in New Orleans.


If you're looking for a fun cocktail bar in New Orleans' Central Business District, the Peacock Room is the place! The Peacock Room offers delicious food and live music every Thursday night, featuring the Da Lovebirds. Check out my entire experience & order over on my Instagram for your next visit!

Shanel Amari dinning and eating at the Peacock Room Essence Festival weekend in New Orleans
Dinner at the Peacock Room in New Orleans

Additionally, Copper Vine is a wine pub & tropical charm restaurant in the Central Business District. My fiancé and I shared a filet mignon brochette for an appetizer. We ordered a cornflake-fried chicken sandwich and a wagyu burger for our main dishes.


For my drink, I enjoyed a delicious and strong frozen margarita. For dessert, we enjoyed a banana and foster rum cake.


My last recommendation is Gus's Fried Chicken for a southern-style, hearty meal! We enjoyed crispy, juicy, spicy, and delicious chicken with a side of fries, beans, and white bread with a can of sprite. The restaurant feels like dining at your Auntie's house.


For Black-Owned restaurants in NOLA, check out Where Black NOLA Eats on Instagram.

Enjoying a 2 piece fried chicken meal with a side of white bread, beans, french fries and sprite soda Gus's Fried Chicken for a Essence Festival weekend in New Orleans
2 piece fried chicken meal with a side of white bread, beans, french fries and sprite soda Gus's Fried Chicken

What To Do

Tip #4: Register to attend the day events and purchase tickets for the evening concerts at The Superdome.


Check out Bourbon Street if you and your friends are looking to turn up at night! An excellent place to start is Pat O' Brien's Bar, which has a wide variety of specialty drinks, such as the world-renowned Hurricane and Rainbow drink.


If you're a history buff like me, check out the National WWII Museum, located across the street from the Higgins Hotel.


Shanel Amari wearing Hanifa green set walking into Caesars Superdome for Essence Festival's evening concerts in New Orleans
Walking into Caesars Superdome for Essence Festival's evening concerts

General Tips

Tip #5: Come cute, but definitely wear comfortable shoes

There will be lots of walking and standing around, whether you're in line for a sample at the Convention Center or walking home after seeing your favorite artist at the Superdome.


You can check out my Saturday convention center experience at Essence festival over on my Instagram @shanelamari.

Actress Nia Long and Singer-Songwriter Jazmine Sullivan speaking at Essence Festival in New Orleans
Actress Nia Long and Singer-Songwriter Jazmine Sullivan speaking at Essence Festival

Tip #6: Download the Essence Festival App

The app is so helpful in letting you know when and where events are taking place in the huge convention center. But please customize your experience in the app; otherwise, you will get notified every 3 minutes with festival updates.


Tip #7: Check a bag or don't overpack

Many samples, swag, and gift bags are given out throughout the weekend. And if you buy the beauty VIP pass like I did, you'll be given tons of full-sized products.


I don't think the VIP Beauty Pass is worth it unless you want many free full-sized hair and beauty products.


Be sure not to overpack or check your bag to make sure to get those full-sized samples and swag back home with you.

photo of shanel amari and Disney's Minnie Mouse at Essence Festival in New  in New Orleans
Myself and Minnie Mouse at Disney's Essence Festival Booth

In conclusion

Essence Festival is a can't-miss event for anyone who loves music, culture, and spending time with friends. New Orleans is a beautiful and vibrant city filled with so much history.


If you're a first-time or experienced vet, I hope you find these tips valuable to making your weekend memorable. Feel free to comment with any questions or if you need any help navigating New Orleans.


Have you ever been to Essence Festival or spent a weekend in New Orleans? Tell me about your experiences below - I'd love to hear them!




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