2022 Essence Festival planning full in-person return to Superdome, organizers say

The 2022 Essence Festival of Culture is scheduled to return from June 30 to July 3

NEW ORLEANS, La. (NOLA WEEKEND) - After pivoting to a virtual experience for the past two years, Essence Festival plans to return for a “fully live gathering” at the Caesars Superdome in 2022, organizers announced Wednesday.

The 2022 Essence Festival of Culture is scheduled to return from June 30 to July 3 with nightly concerts at Caesars Superdome, empowerment programming at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and other entertaining and inspirational activations in venues across New Orleans.

“The reimagining of the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans as a phygital – fully physical and fully digital – experience will be epic,” Caroline Wanga, CEO of Essence Communications, Inc., said in a press release. “Given what we have collectively experienced over the last two years, the opportunity to convene and uplift in the spirit of culture, equity, celebration – and joy – is more of a privilege and honor than it has ever been. We look forward to our homecoming in the City of New Orleans and to strengthening our impact as a cornerstone of Black culture, entrepreneurship and economic inclusion – working always to serve Black women and communities deeply.”

Organizers say the 2022 event will celebrate “the culture and resilience of the Black community with the theme ‘It’s the Black Joy for Me!’” In addition to in-person events, the festival will include an enhanced digital presence to build on the global online audience that viewed virtual programming for the past two years of virtual Essence Fests.

In 2020, Essence Fest went virtual for the first time in the festival’s 26-year history, which garnered more than 45 million full-stream views of festival content online, according to Essence. This year’s digital programming will include live streaming of select on-the-ground activities in New Orleans, as well as new and exclusive digital content and experiences created for the live and virtual audiences, organizers said.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell says she’s “elated” for the return of Essence Fest after a two-year absence due to the ongoing pandemic.

“ESSENCE brings so much to our city and our economy, and I can’t wait to see what this year has to offer. The City of New Orleans and the ESSENCE Festival are inextricably linked through our remarkable history and our steadfast focus on and commitment to culture, community, and economic inclusion,” Cantrell said in a press release. " We look forward to continuing this partnership to create an even deeper legacy of impact and inclusion for our city and for all who will join us in July to make this experience the best yet.”

Launched in 1995 as an event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Essence Magazine, Essence Fest has since evolved into a staple event of the New Orleans summer festival season. The annual event is also known as a signature celebration of Black women, culture and communities.

According to Essence, the event is also the “nation’s largest festival by per day attendance,” drawing more than 530,000 people annually over July 4th weekend in New Orleans.

Organizers say more details about the talent line-up, schedules and ticket information will be released in January 2022.

Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey is the digital content producer and on-air personality for FOX 8 Nola Weekend. Shan is a creative storyteller who is passionate about creating compelling content that connects with audiences.