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Everything to know about ESSENCE Fest 2017

The party with a purpose returns to New Orleans this weekend

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It’s summertime, and the living is in the Big Easy — for this weekend, at least, when the 2017 ESSENCE Festival returns to Louisiana for four days of music, inspiration, and empowerment. If you’re looking to attend the annual “party with a purpose,” thrown by EW’s sister publication ESSENCE, then read on for answers to all of your burning questions about ESSENCE Fest 2017, below!

When is ESSENCE Fest?

The 2017 ESSENCE Festival takes place this weekend, from Thursday, June 29, to Sunday, July 2. The festival will be back at its usual location at New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center by day, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by night.

Who will be performing?

The packed lineup kicks off on Friday, when you can catch John Legend, India.Arie, and headliner Diana Ross; Saturday’s Mary J. Blige-curated lineup includes Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan, and Remy Ma; and Sunday brings Chance the Rapper, Master P, Solange, and Beyoncé protégées Chloe x Halle — all among dozens of others. Check out the full music lineup here.

Will there be any other events as part of the festival?

Funny you should ask! This year, ESSENCE Fest will kick off with its first-ever celebrity basketball game, hosted by Master P. The lineup of athletes and entertainers taking part will include Trey Songz, Romeo Miller, Terrence J, and Juvenile, among others, and proceeds from the game will go to a scholarship fund for New Orleans youth.

In addition to the music (and the sports!), ESSENCE’s signature Empowerment Experience will take place all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and will include panels with (and addresses from) such speakers as Ava DuVernay, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Mary J. Blige, Niecy Nash, Phaedra Parks, Reverend Al Sharpton, and the women of XSCAPE, among others; check out the the full schedule and complete list of speakers to find out more.

How can I attend?

If you find yourself in New Orleans this weekend, you’re in luck! VIP passes, weekend packages, and single-night tickets are still available here. And if you don’t know what to do in the Big Easy between sets, ESSENCE has got you covered: The magazine has curated a comprehensive travel guide to the city, picked out the best affordable restaurants, and even provided some sweet, sweet tips on the best places to get dessert. Because what’s NOLA without beignets?