Essence Fest Announces Hybrid Event for 2021

Mary J. Blige
Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

Mary J. Blige performs during the 25th Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 6, 2019 in New Orleans.

Essence announced Thursday (Feb. 18) that the annual festival held in New Orleans will adopt a hybrid model for its 2021 event. Over the course of two weekends this summer, the festival will feature online content as well as live-to-tape activations throughout the city.

This year, with the theme ‘Live Loud,’ ESSENCE is thrilled to curate an invaluable hybrid experience that offers the best of in-person and virtual worlds via a celebration of the resilience, power and achievement of our community and the omnipresence of our culture,” festival organizers said in a release.  

The festival’s virtual programming will include interactive sessions, as well as evening concerts and connection opportunities. In addition, Essence will produce live-to-tape activations available only to local New Orleans and Louisiana residents, honoring essential workers and first responders.

Essence states that all in-person events will be in strict adherence to guidance from local health agencies and will be held in partnership with the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.  

The entire festival will be broadcast on essencestudios.com on both weekends of the event scheduled to take place June 25-27 and July 2-4.  

The hybrid style festival follows Essence’s virtual format in 2020 due to the global pandemic. The 100% Black-owned media company typically hosts an event welcoming more than half a million people over Fourth of July weekend, but reached a more global audience with its online content last year. According to Essence, the 2020 edition of the festival of culture has reached more than 45 million full-stream views to date.  

Talent for this year’s festival is expected soon. In the meantime, ongoing updates and additional information can be found here