Thanks to the promotion Essence Fest 2018 received from the movie “Girls Trip,” which featured an alluring visit to the annual entertainment and empowerment gathering in New Orleans, plus the appearance of superstar Janet Jackson, producers predict that this year’s attendance may be the biggest ever.
Based on a visit to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Essence’s opening day (July 6), they might be right. The enormous hall was crowded with attendees, who filled the seats in the movie theater, swarmed the Coca-Cola performance stage, and stood in long lines at the celebrity Fan Zone, the fashion pavilions and at the food court. It’s impossible to say what the exact head count might have been, but opening day seemed busier than in recent years. Who knows?
Gallery: Essence Fest 2018 : Friday
The festival is divided into two locations. Events at the Morial Convention Center are free, while the evening concert series at the Superdome is by admission. Essence attendance is a combination of both locations over all three days.
At the close of Essence Fest 2017, which took place from June 29 to July 2, the management announced an attendance of more than 470,000.
According to Essence figures, the fest grew by 20,000 in 2017, up from 450,000 attendees in 2016. The 2015 festival which began an evening earlier than usual, reportedly drew 500,000. The 20th anniversary Essence Festival in 2014 holds the record with a reported 550,000 fans.
Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music, and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.