The Essence Festival of Culture kicked off today (June 30) in New Orleans with New Orleans native and reality television star Antonia “Toya” Johnson welcoming the Essence Festival faithful “back home” for the first in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the last live festival taking place in 2019.
Johnson opened the press conference stage at the Ashe Powerhouse Theater for a number of Essence executives, Festival sponsors and and elected officials, including Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who took the stage to offer their own thoughts on the opening of the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture on the first day.
During her remarks, Essence CEO Caroline Wanga solidified the media company’s commitment to New Orleans, where the first Essence Festival took place 1995.
“The Essence Festival of Culture is never leaving the City of New Orleans,” Wanga said.
A number of local businesses are excited about the return of Essence, with the annual event attracting more than 500,000 visitors to New Orleans and having an economic impact of more $200 million.
Just in time for the return of the Festival, McKenna Publishing Company, publisher of The Nw Orleans Tribune produced its first post-pandemic edition of Welcome: A Guide for Black Tourists to New Orleans, to help direct this visitors to Black-owned hospitality related business across New Orleans.
With an impressive slate of talent, the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture talent features Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj, New Edition, The Roots, D-Nice, the Isley Brothers, Summer Walker, Jazmine Sullivan Wizkid, TEMS and Beenie Man, country music sensation Mickey Guyton, hip-hop legends Method Man, Raekwon and Ghostface, the iconic Patti Labelle, Stephanie Mills and City Girls.
Comedian Kevin Hart led nighttime entertainment events at on June 30 at the Smoothie King Center for an evening of comedy. The Festival continues through Sunday, July 3, with daytime events at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, night time concerts and the Superdome and late night events and celebrations of across New Orleans.
Festival Parking and Traffic
For the busy weekend, the New Orleans Police Department and the Louisiana State Police have restricted traffic and parking restrictions to ensure the safety of pedestrians, including:
Limiting Vehicle Traffic
From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. overnight Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. overnight Monday, public safety officials will screen vehicles entering the French Quarter within the perimeter of Canal, Decatur, Dumaine and Rampart streets. Only residents, employees, hotel guests, and taxis or ride-hailing services will be allowed to drive vehicles into the French Quarter.
Prohibiting Vehicle Traffic
From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. overnight Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. overnight Monday, public safety officials will close Bourbon Street from Canal to Dumaine streets and the 700 and 800 blocks of St. Ann, Orleans, St. Peter, Toulouse, St. Louis, Conti, Bienville, and Iberville streets to all traffic.
No Parking Zones
From 12 p.m. to 6 a.m. overnight Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. overnight Monday, no parking will be allowed on the following streets:
- 700-800 blocks of St. Ann, Orleans, St. Peter, Toulouse, St. Louis, Conti, Bienville, and Iberville streets
- Canal Street, both sides, from Claiborne Avenue to Convention Center Boulevard
- Poydras Street between LaSalle Street and Claiborne Avenue
- Perdido Street between Loyola and Claiborne Avenues
- Tulane Avenue between Loyola and Claiborne Avenues
- LaSalle Street between Poydras Street and Tulane Avenue
- Clara Street between Poydras and Perdido Streets
- Claiborne Avenue between Perdido Street and Tulane Avenue
- Claiborne Avenue between Poydras and Cypress Streets
- Old Poydras Street between Bolivar and Galvez Streets
From 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. overnight Monday, July 4, no parking will be allowed on the following streets:
- Decatur Street (both sides) between Dumaine and St. Louis Streets
- N. Peters Street (both sides) between Canal and St. Louis Streets
- Canal Street (both sides) from Claiborne Avenue to Convention Center Boulevard Residents and visitors are reminded to always follow posted signs. Parking enforcement personnel will be monitoring for illegal parking.
- Do not block hydrants, driveways and sidewalks.
- Do not park within 20 feet of a crosswalk, intersection, or stop sign.
- Park in the direction of travel on one-way streets and with the right wheel to the curb on two-way streets.
- Call 504-658-8100 for 24-hour parking enforcement.
RTA Service Adjustments
In anticipation of increased ridership during weekend events, the Regional Transit Authority will provide extra service on the St. Charles Canal-City Park/Cemeteries and Union Passenger Terminal/Riverfront streetcar lines. Details on any route changes are available at norta.com or via Ride Line at 504-248-3900. All RTA service alerts, updates and detours can also be accessed by downloading the RTA’s GoMobile app.
For more on the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture, click here.