Essence Festival 2016 kicks off

Essence begins its 'party with a purpose'

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in New Orleans this weekend for the 22nd annual Essence Festival, and it's expected to be another big year.

A tourism official said Essence attracted more than 500,000 people to the city last year. Hotel occupancy is projected to be even higher this year.

The four-day event kicked off Thursday. Starting Friday night, fans will get to see performers like Mariah Carey, Ciara and Kendrick Lamar. Oprah will also make a first-time appearance this year.

"Here, government, business and our culture work together in a magnificent way. We work together to create change, positive change, in the lives of our communities around the nation," said Essence Communications Inc. President Michelle Ebanks.

The city says Essence brings a big economic boost to New Orleans each year. In fact, tourism officials anticipate hotel occupancy to be at 90 percent Friday and 92 percent Saturday. That's above last year's numbers.

"We all know what this festival means to the City of New Orleans, a tremendous economic impact, $300 million economic impact," said Deputy Mayor Judy Morse.

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