Preparing for ESSENCE: 10 Must-Haves

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2019)

10 Must-Have Items to Have Fun and Not Miss a Beat at Essence Fest 2015!

The legendary Essence Festival started in 1995 and has grown to more than half a million attendees from around the world. It attracts celebrities, professionals and socialites ready to network and party with a purpose. Navigating the Essence Festival can be a daunting task, especially for a first‐timer, so with the kick off right around the corner, here are a few items to help you prepare for a great experience:

1. Digital Camera

A picture is worth a thousand words. Incite the envy and awe of your friends by posting pictures to show what a great time you are having. Remember to use hashtags #essencefest #cokeessencefest and/or #bringthelove when posting online to join the conversation with thousands of others across social
media platforms. Many phones have great cameras, but if yours doesn’t take clear images, bring backup because those Instagram filters can only do so much. When you’re able to enlarge your picture of Common or Meagan later and see all their gorgeous features in high resolution vs. a mess of pixelated dots, you’ll be glad you did.

TIP: Last year, event sponsor Coca Cola gave instant prizes to people who posted cool pics on social media with their hashtag. Keep an eye out for this year’s contests–Ford is even giving away a brand new car. You could be a lucky winner!

2. Portable Charger

The charger is one of the most often forgotten items when packing. It’s essential to have enough juice to power up your camera, phone or other necessary tech tools. You’ll no doubt run into your favorite celebrity, so don’t miss once in a lifetime photo opps because your battery is on life support.

3. Comfy Shoes

You may want to strut in your nicest stilettos or oxfords, but the French Quarter is paved with rugged cobblestone streets, and even if you don’t venture to that area, Essence Fest requires a LOT of walking and standing in lines. Save the heels and shiny shoes for nighttime parties, but for the daytime, pack comfortable flats and walking shoes. Your toes will thank you.

4. Getting Around

No need to rent a car; it would become a hassle eventually. There are taxis, streetcars, and in April 2015, New Orleans approved ride‐sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. Uber allows you to download an app to your phone and immediately request transportation. There were reports of people waiting an hour for cabs at last year’s fest, so having an option is great. To sign up for Uber and get your first ride FREE, use this link:

TIP: It’s ideal to stay at a hotel within walking distance of the action. The Business District, Warehouse District, Convention Center, Superdome, and French Quarter areas are all close to most Essence Festival events. People book a year in advance, so if you haven’t secured lodging yet—hurry!

5. Breathable Fabrics

A great trip starts long before you arrive. Pack well!

Summer in New Orleans is humid, so you want to wear lightweight, breathable fabrics. Don’t mess around with wool; this is the season for linen, cotton and anything that allows you to catch a cool breeze. It can sometimes get chilly indoors, however, so a light jacket or scarf is good to have also if you’re cold natured.

6. Water

Speaking of the heat, the sun can sap you dry quickly if you aren’t hydrating your body. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches and fainting spells. Especially with a few Daquiris in your system, keeping a bottle of water handy is a wise move.

7. Your “Eating” Dress/Pants

This deserves a category all its own. New Orleans is known for mouth-wateringly delicious cuisine, and restaurants like Café du Monde and Mother’s have sent many into food comas. If you wear an outfit that requires you to suck your stomach in all day, you will fail. I repeat, you will fail. Women, try a flowy sundress. You could end up needing a maternity dress–the father just might be a sweet-talking Frenchman named fried Beignet! Men, that tight belt won’t be attractive after you have to unbuckle it and unbutton your pants just to breathe. Be cute, but comfortable.

8. Business Cards

Party and learn but also be prepared to network.  You will be surrounded by thousands of like-minded people, so you should leave with valuable connections. Be ready to put your best professional face forward by handing out your business card, getting others and following up when you return home.

9. Trip Details

Between flights, hotels and tickets to the nonstop events, keeping up can be confusing if you aren’t organized. Create a digital file in your email account, or print out your confirmations and put them in a folder so you don’t end up scrambling for a misplaced document. It will save a lot of stress in the long run.

TIP: The most in-demand events–such as the day parties–sell out fast, so purchase tickets in advance online, or arrive early to avoid disappointment.

10. A Positive Attitude

Every trip can have challenges, but view it as an adventure. So what if you end up with the cab driver who drives worse than Daisy in “Driving Miss Daisy”? It will make a funny story later. You’re alive and experiencing one of the hottest events ever. Show up with a smile, and have a great time!

Have you been to Essence Fest or plan to attend this year? We’d love to hear from you.

Empower Magazine is honored to be one of the amazing publications invited to cover Essence Festival 2015, so stay tuned for insider photos and highlights. For more information, visit:



About Sarni
Travel/Lifestyle Editor
Sarni graduated from the acclaimed Medill School of Journalism and has published articles for publications nationwide. When not seeking new adventures in her neck of the woods or across the continents, she enjoys her work as a branding and public relations specialist. She helps develop and expand luxury, lifestyle and conscious brands. Sarni believes the irony in travel is that the more you explore humanity’s differences, the more you realize just how connected we all truly are.

Preparing for Essence: 10 Must-Have Items to Have Fun and Not Miss a Beat at Essence Fest 2015!