7 Tips to Enhance Your Essence Fest Experience

One of the largest music festivals in the U.S., Essence Festival is going back to New Orleans July 2-5 for its 21st year. It will be a big one, with nearly 50 musical acts including Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, comedian Kevin Hart and a host of personal empowerment speakers, including Deepak Chopra and Steve Harvey. Whether you’re there on the ground as one of the over 550,000 expected attendees or watching from afar, you won’t want to miss one bit of all the excitement, so grab your smartphone or tablet and plug into all the ways to best enjoy the #ESSENCEFEST.

First, the Basics

For starters, you’ll want to get the lowdown on who’s who and what’s what at the Essence Festival by checking out the festival’s official site, which lists artists, speakers, schedules and other festival events. The festival mobile app lets attendees plan their schedules and share them with friends to coordinate. Not attending this year? That’s OK; you can live stream the convention center festivities, main stage Superdome performances and acts in the Verizon “Now Playing” superlounge on Essence Live. You can also sign up for festival alerts, make photo cards to share on social media, see all photos and Tweets from the #ESSENCEFEST hashtag and watch video highlights from the stages.

Countdown to the Festival

You can subscribe to the Essence YouTube channel to watch videos, learn the latest news about the festival and get an insider’s view from actor Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Treme, HBO’s much-anticipated film Confirmation) on what to do while in New Orleans. During the festival, be sure to check the 2015 Essence Festival Playlist for highlights.

Hashtag It

Whether you’re attending the event in person or just lurking from the comfort of your home, you’ll want to keep up-to-date with the #ESSENCEFEST hashtag that will feature fan and official photos and videos. You’ll also want to follow and friend the official Essence accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to learn about contests and other updates.

Get Local

The Essence Fest is so big it’s easy to get consumed by all the action and not get the chance to venture around. New Orleans is a beautiful city, steeped in wonderful traditions and unique culture, with so much to explore and do. Whether you’re into Creole or Cajun food, you’ll need an app like Yelp or Foursquare to find the best shrimp po’ boy or etouffee. Maybe you’ll even find that your friends on social media have rated restaurants and left tips for the best dishes. Want to know about other concerts happening in the area? Songkick taps into the music you listen to on your device and makes recommendations based on your preferences. If you’re in the mood to listen to some local Zydeco, Gypsy Jazz or Cajun Dixie Land, or check out a brass band, try either the GO NOLA or Nearify app to round out your New Orleans music experience.

Get Around Town

Sure, there’s Uber and Lyft, recently-approved in New Orleans for lower-cost ridesharing. If you want to get around like a local by street car, bus or bike, you should try Transit App to plan your route and get real-time info. Renting a car? No problem. Use Waze to find the best route from other drivers and then reserve and pay for your parking spot in advance with Parking Panda. Running out of data on your device? WifiMapper can help you find free Wi-Fi anywhere.

Preserve Your Memories

Having photos on your phone and sharing them on social media is nice, but printing them out and preserving them is even better. With PostalPix, just pick the photos you want to print, then select the desired type and size, and they will be mailed to your home in just a few days. WhiteAlbum, on the other hand, lets you shoot a stream of 24 photos that you’ll see for the first time after they’re printed and mailed to your home. 

Share Your Moments Live

It might be tedious to DM photos on Instagram, but PhotoCircle allows real-time photo sharing in private groups, and there’s always Snapchat for sharing photos and videos in Live stories. With Hipstamatic DSPO, invite friends to shoot together, set the timer for the duration of the fest, start shooting and you’ll all see the finished product when the timer hits zero. You can also tell stories with Hykoo, which consists of three short videos with accompanying text, that can be shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget about Periscope and Meerkat that allow you to live stream videos on Twitter. Follw the event using #VerizonLive. 

About Lynne D Johnson

Lynne D Johnson is a digital and social media strategist who has led teams to develop creative B2C content and community experiences for popular media brands like Vibe, Spin and Fast Company, as well as B2B content marketing for Spotify.

Lynne has also keynoted tech and new media conferences and spoken extensively about emerging media and technology, as well as conducted workshops and training at leading industry events and organizations, such as The Advertising Research Foundation, AdTech, Web 2.0, SXSW, and BlogHer Business.