Essence Fest Draws Biggest Crowds Ever

New Orleans' Essence Music Festival posted the highest attendance in its eight-year history with some 223,000 people taking part in the three-day celebration of African culture and music.

New Orleans' Essence Music Festival posted the highest attendance in its eight-year history with some 223,000 people taking part in the three-day celebration of African culture and music. The gathering marked an increase of almost 13 percent over last year's draw of about 195,000, according to festival organizers. This year's event also had the highest attendance since the festival began in 1995.

Concerts, empowerment seminars, and a marketplace were the key features of the festival, which ran Thursday through Saturday. A festival spokesperson attributed this year's higher attendance to a strong lineup of opening night entertainers -- including Alicia Keys, India.Arie, and Luther Vandross -- the extended Fourth of July weekend, and better marketing.

Some 139,000 people attended the three evenings of concerts in the Superdome, also a record number, organizers said. The festival is produced by Essence Communications Partners, parent company of Essence magazine, and Festival Productions Inc., which also produces the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.


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