NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Even with rain and clouds swirling around the New Orleans metro area, Essence Festival attendees are focusing on the next four days filled with concerts, seminars, and fun.
“(It was) a pretty bad experience coming in because of the weather,” New York resident Melissa Beaujour said. “We got delayed over in Baton Rouge then we flew back in and after that it was good.”
The melancholy weather didn’t stop visitors from feeling something they haven’t felt since 2019.
“I can already feel in the airport just the excitement and the culture of Essence,” Houston resident Gabrielle Profit said. “Everyone is like ‘Are you here for Essence? Are you here for Essence?’”
It’s the first in-person Essence Fest in two years and officials at New Orleans & Co. expect the out-of-town crowds to be big.
Right now, their data shows hotel occupancy for the weekend could be near or above 90%. Forecasted daily occupancy among 16 hotels in the survey shows 73% occupancy on Thursday, 91% occupancy on Friday, 93% on Saturday, and 80% on Sunday.
“We are all here to enjoy the culture and the food and just vibe,” New York resident Chyanna Lundi said.
The festival expects tens of thousands of visitors for one of the largest celebrations of Black art and culture in the country. But until everything kicks off, people say they’re enjoying the city.
“We want to visit the small businesses and put our money into the small businesses,” Tampa resident Karita Lee said. “We are not looking for the corporate businesses.”
A lot of visitors say there’s more than enough to do while they wait for big-name talent to hit the Superdome stage.