Essence Festival 2018 may not have had Beyonce, but it definitely had some major black girl magic.
According to reports, the four day annual event, held July 5-8 in New Orleans, was attended by more than a record 510 million people, surpassing that of Coachella (with upwards of 150,000) headlined this past April by Beyonce.
Big names like Janet Jackson, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Miguel, Jill Scott and Missy Elliott hit the stage for this year’s ESSENCE Fest, with all three nights of the festival sold out for the first time in its history.
“This extraordinary gathering of nearly half a million attendees — on the eve of the Essence Festival’s 25th anniversary — speaks to the unmatched convening power of our culture,” said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications. “As one of the country’s largest curated live experiences, the Essence Festival engages Black women globally—through a truly unique celebration of culture, connection to community and access to content that inspires and empowers.”
Organizers predicted a highly successful event this year. After all, it had some help from the hit movie “Girls Trip,” which was filmed in New Orleans and centered around a girls trip to Essence Fest.
The movie stars Regina Hall and Queen Latifah (who took the stage on Saturday night and brought out Brandy, MC Lyte, Remy Ma and Salt N’ Pepa) returned to take part in the festivities and celebrate with the droves of women who came from far and wide for the 24th annual festival.
Each night some 80,000 people piled into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to see some of their favorites take the stage. While hundreds of thousands more descended daily upon the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for a host of panels, workshops and more rebranded as ‘Conference & Expos’ with programming across eight tracks spanning Beauty & Style to Business & Entrepreneurship.
Powerhouse speakers included Lena Waithe, Lester Holt and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell as well as favorites Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Iyanla Vanzant, among others.
Sponsors of the 2018 ESSENCE Festival include presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and major sponsors AT&T, Ford, McDonald’s, State Farm and Walmart.