We strongly suggest using the official Essence Music Festival site provided in the links section to book your hotel. Location wise you should strongly consider where you are spending your time during the day at Essence Fest. The objective is to have a hotel central to most of your activities.
Please remember that everyone is different in how they want to spend a vacation. Make sure that you come with friends that are like-minded in how they want to spend Essence Fest. If your friend wants to go to concerts, seminars and wake up 8am every day conversely you want to go to parties, hang on Bourbon and go to bed at 6am every night that’s not going to work. It sounds like common sense but I have seen many have tiffs with their close friends just because they are not like-minded when it comes to how they want to spend time at Essence Fest.
This is a casual vacation. Attire other than to concerts, seminars and some parties is very casual. The heat index is crazy so it’s best to keep it light. Everyone sweats at Essence Fest. In addition, you need at least 2-3 outfits per day. This is not a fashion suggestion but one based on the heat index. Everyone will need at bare minimum of 2 showers per day, likely more (if you previously didn’t follow this 2-shower standard before for other EMFers please do so going forward). Light clothing can only do so much – the heat is a bear if you are outside a lot during the day.
Arrive before Essence Fest Friday:
If your budget and time allows we suggest you arrive before Essence Fest Friday. Tons of people arrive on Friday, which causes a nightmare just getting your bags, to your hotel and checking in. In addition, there is much fun to be had prior to Friday and flights are usually cheaper. If you must arrive on Friday red eyes flights are strongly suggested so you can possibly beat the rush.
Stay Until Essence Fest Monday:
If your budget and time allows we suggest you stay until Monday. Sunday is certainly an easier travel day as far as getting your bags, checking out and departing your hotel. However, on Sunday there still are numerous concerts, social events, parties and just great times to experience. In past years in our circle we had a few 1st timers who departed on Sunday despite our advice to the contrary, all of them regretted it.
This seems like a funny statement because most that attend Essence Fest are grown folk who have gone on plenty of vacations before and have drank before. However, in this country there is no city that gets it in drinking wise like New Orleans. Several factors separate New Orleans
1) You can legally drink in the streets. Now I know some people have found ways to circumvent these laws other places but at Essence Fest there’s no need. It encourages that extra kick-start before hitting a social scene.
2) Not only can you legally drink but also some establishments allow you to patronize their place with a drink from another venue. This is mostly allowed during the day and it seems that some spots have become stricter in their outside drink allowances. Still this makes the social environment even more vibrant because patrons are frequently “bar hopping”.
3) Drinks are very cheap. For those that come from the “big cities” Essence Fest is a culture shock when it comes to drink prices on Bourbon. $3 premium liquor shots (yes that means Patron, Henny, etc.) are available at several establishment and if you’re not picky about your liquor there’s shots even cheaper. All type of drink specials many being less than $5. Therefore, drinks are flowing everywhere and it’s like a vacation happy hour.
Just make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water and coat your stomach with the tremendous New Orleans cuisine.
While we have many recommendations and suggestions, feel free to just jump in and experience Essence Fest for yourself. Sometimes experience is the best teacher. We have developed these views and thoughts through many combined years of Essence Fest. However, everyone is different so don’t feel the need to follow everything we say to the letter. The best method is to take what we say and mesh it with works for you. Then you should have the best of both worlds.