I’ll admit it, just to you. I’m pretty bummed that I won’t be at this year’s Essence Music Festival. I mean, PRINCE. NAS. Janelle Monae. The Roots. Ledisi. This will be SO DOPE. I was even asked to participate, but I had to turn it down — my husband’s family is coming to Chicago for a family reunion! I’ll be in the Chi having fun with the fam. Family comes first. New Orleans and EMF will see me again in 2015. Promise!
If you’ve been to the Essence Music Festival before, you already know it can be a LOT. There’s speakers and forums and the expo hall and SO much to see during the day, and then layers on layers of live music at night. It can be crowded and overwhelming and incredibly hot and awesome and the best time ever, all at once.
My best advice – be prepared for anything. You might have a random celebrity sighting (like I did, when I saw Pharrell randomly strolling down a dark side street right near the W Hotel). You might wind up on the scene when the horse cops come down Bourbon Street, which happened to quite a few of my friends. You can have an incredible experience, if you take my advice – I’ve been there and done this! Here’s my BEST advice for you if you’re going to EMF in NOLA!
1 – Wear comfortable shoes. It is inevitable that you will see a lady struggling down the sidewalk, wobbling in her heels like a baby giraffe learning to walk. Just…don’t let that lady be you. Between the convention center and the Superdome is quite a walk, and you will most likely be making that walk because taxis can be hard to find in the crowd. I’m not saying wear grandma sandals, but do bring along some cute flats that have been broken in. The last thing you need during EMF weekend is blisters from uncomfortable footwear. Check out my Glam post on fresh new sneakers for summer – you can definitely rock any of those to EMF!
2 – Wear comfortable clothes in breathable fabrics. New Orleans in the summertime. WHOOO it is HOT. And humid. Expect to sweat. Expect to do quite a bit of walking. Dress appropriately, and pack a mini umbrella in your purse – you never know when it might rain. Wear something chic in a breathable fabric that won’t require you to be all hemmed up in shapewear. You’re going to see a lot of cotton-blend maxi dresses in NOLA, and that’s for a valid reason.
3 - Stay hydrated. This should go without saying but I’ll say it anywhere. Heat + alcohol = bad combination. That scorching sun and high humidity will get you when you don’t expect it to. Stroll with your water bottle everywhere you go. My current fave is the Bobble water bottle, which retails for around $10 and filters water as you drink so you can pretty much fill it up anywhere and feel safe about your H2O.
4 – Bring a portable phone charger AND a regular phone charger. The last thing you want is to be strolling home after that Prince concert, have a celebrity sighting or see something crazy in the streets of New Orleans, and realize your phone is dead and you can’t snap a photo. It’s happened to me. Learn from my mistakes! My BEST advice is to take TWO fully charged portable phone chargers AND roll with your plug in charger as back-back-backup. It can be tough finding an outlet at a restaurant or bar, much less the Superdome or Convention Center. Also, having your own charger on your person is a way to recharge your phone and make sure it’s always safe. IJS.
5 – Pack your primer, your finishing spray and your blotting sheets. I may have mentioned this a few times before, but it is HOT and HUMID in New Orleans! You will step out of your hotel room and feel that sweat beading on your brow almost immediately. To avoid the condition that celebrity makeup artist Cynde Watson calls “sweating cocoa,” check out that post on staying matte and beating the heat by applying powder correctly. Also, after my 2012 trip, I interviewed amazing New Orleans based makeup artist Maria Barreda on making your makeup last in NOLA’s heat and humidity – check out her words of wisdom! It’s all about primer, cream foundation and setting spray. AND rolling around town with your vital touch-up supplies – Teen Vogue just did a great post on mattifying skin products, from toners to blotting sheets. Check em out for awesome recommendations!
6 – Go off the beaten path – know that there is SO much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street! Yes, there’s only one Bourbon Street. Yes, it’s the most popular place to be in New Orleans. Yes, you MUST drink a hurricane and eat some beignets when you’re in town. But there is SO MUCH MORE to the great city of New Orleans. My suggestion? After you’ve spent day one exploring the convention center and all of the pop up boutiques and stores throughout the French Quarter, take a streetcar to the Garden District and go on a walking tour of the amazing houses, or historic cemeteries. I had the BEST time on the Scandalous Cocktails Walking Tour. I learned AND drank so much. Check out some of the incredible restaurants and bars that I fell in love with right here in this post – In Love With New Orleans, Where To Dine and Drink in The Big Easy!
That’s my best advice for those of you making the trip to New Orleans next week. ALSO buy your souvenirs like pralines and stuff before going to the airport. That airport is a hot mess on the way out, and the gift stores are stripped bare of anything you want. Stock up while you’re exploring the city!
Have the BEST time and post all of your pics on Instagram for those of us who’ll be living vicariously!