ESSENCE Festival draws more than 450,000 to New Orleans

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(Last Updated On: July 5, 2016)

Photo Credit: 2016 Essence Festival

More than 450,000 festival goers gathered in New Orleans for TIME INC.’S 2016 ESSENCE Festival this Fourth of July weekend of empowerment, celebrity workshop panels, and high-energy performances and community impact.

The annual celebration, which took place June 30 – July 3, featured more than 100 performing artists and over 100 speakers, including first-time appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Tyra Banks, Misty Copeland, and many more. Recognized as one of the country’s largest live events, the 2016 ESSENCE Festival hosted more celebrities and performing talent than ever before, extended its reach worldwide by capturing a record-breaking 3.5 billion social media impressions and delivered over 100 hours of curated video and live-stream content.

Highlights of the 2016 ESSENCE Festival include:

· Over 100 performing artists—more than ever before across the Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry such as Kendrick Lamar, Mariah Carey, Maxwell, Puff Daddy & The Family, Common and Ciara performed at the event’s nighttime concerts and dozens of others across ESSENCE’s Center Stage and All-Star Gospel Tribute honoring The Clark Sisters.

· More than 100 speakers, authors, leaders and celebrities participated in the Festival’s free daytime experience –including a first-ever appearance by Oprah Winfrey to a standing-room only crowd. Other first-time speakers included Tyra Banks and Misty Copeland and the return of perennial favorites Rev. Al Sharpton and Bishop T.D. Jakes, among others, drew packed crowds.

· The launch of two new consumer Expos, ‘Beauty & Style’ and ‘Entrepreneurship, Money & Power’ which extended the Festival’s daytime footprint by more than 125,000 square feet within the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, drawing passionate crowds of thousands each day.

· The expansion of ‘Entertainment All-Access’, offering fans more access to Hollywood’s A-list celebrities than ever before, as well as exclusive first-looks at the hottest movies, TV shows and cast talk-backs in the ESSENCE Screening Room.

· More than 100 hours of digital programming including first-time live-stream of the ESSENCE Empowerment Stage content and video on demand garnering over 500,000 views.

· Over 113,000 social media posts driving more than 3.5 billion impressions with trending status on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

· Programming and cultural exchange between Durban, South Africa and sister city New Orleans, featuring an exclusive preview of ESSENCE Festival Durban, the first international edition of the Festival set to take place in Durban, South Africa November 8-13, 2016.

For a full recap of all the exciting moments from the 2016 ESSENCE Festival, visit

ESSENCE Festival draws more than 450,000 to New Orleans