JUNE 29-JULY 2: Essence Festival
The annual “party with a purpose” pulls into town early this year, bringing with it four jampacked days of seminars, concerts, pre-parties and afterparties. During the day the place to be is the Morial Convention Center, where speakers, from congresswoman Maxine Waters to singer Cissy Houston, take part in free discussions, ranging from politics to beauty. At night it’s all about the music at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Friday brings Diana Ross and John Legend, Saturday is the fest’s firstever ladies night (Mary J. Blige, Chaka Kahn, Jill Scott) and Sunday spotlights local standouts such as Solange, Mystikal and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Party on!