It’s just around the corner. After months of planning, your weekend getaway in The Big Easy is finally approaching, and if you’re anything like us, you’re daydreaming in your cubicle thinking about the music, food, art, culture and fun that awaits. But in case you haven’t been before, haven’t checked out every inch of the schedule or got your tickets last minute, here’s what we can’t wait for this weekend at the 2016 Essence Festival:

Great up-and-coming artists

Photo: Giphy

Head to some of the smaller stages for some incredibly talented, up-and-coming artists who will no doubt be legends one day. Performers include Chloe & Hallie, St. Beauty, The Internet, Lion Babe, Leon Bridges, BJ The Chicago Kid, Tink, Andra Day, and tons more

Good food

There are so many amazing restaurants to check out in between the many activities on your agenda. Try a wide variety of local flavor to fuel you for more fun!

Exploring New Orleans

Even beyond food, good music and Bourbon Street, there are so many things to experience in the city. Check out some of our suggestions (including where to observe art and what to do on July 4) here.

Jamming to big names

Photo: Giphy

Mariah Carey, Maxwell, Tyrese, New Edition, Babyface, Ciara, Common, Charlie Wilson, Puff Daddy and the Family, Jeremih, Kendrick and more hit the stage this weekend. From classics to modern chart-toppers, each night on the main stage will be filled with talent.

Awesome speakers

Where else can you hear from Tina Knowles-Lawson, Soledad O’Brien, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ava DuVernay, Misty Copeland, and more in one weekend? I’ll wait.

Beauty and style expo

Get advice from popular vloggers such as MoKnowsHair, Ellarie and MahoganyCurls. Even learn about how to perfect that 5-minute face with supermodel Tyra Banks! There’s no shortage of industry experts on the schedule for the Beauty and Style Expo.

Happy hours

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Sit back, relax and meet some cool people to spend the weekend with at one of the many happy hours this weekend. Blavity is hosting some of our own that we hope to see you at, and these events are a great chance to mix and mingle if you didn’t come down to Essence with a large crew.

Hanging out at the convention center

Essence Festival
Photo: Essence

There’s always something going on, from speakers to performances to demonstrations to freebies! If you’re not sure what to do next, the convention center is always filled with opportunity.

Networking brunches

Photo: Giphy

This weekend will be full of so many brunches, including Blavity’s own Natural Hair & Beauty Brunch with bottomless mimosas! (Tickets here.) What better way to start your day than by sharing a delicious meal with people you admire and that can help you be your best self and accomplish your dreams?

Money and Power expo

Speakers from a wide variety of industries (from tech to editorial to working at NASA) will be sharing their wealth of knowledge about power, taking control of a career and being smart with finances. Entrepreneurs should catch one of the five “Entrepreneurs’ Circle” sessions that are on the line-up.

What are you most excited for this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

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