Essence Festival Lead
Credit: Josh Brasted

We've been waiting an entire year for one of our favorite events to make its glorious return to New Orleans. If you're a fan of R&B, hip-hop, or soul music, the Essence Festival is the place to be this Fourth of July Weekend. With over 40 acts lined up across 5 stages in the Superdome arena and more than 550,000 expected participants, the fête is guaranteed to be bigger than ever. There's tons of jam-packed performances from music's most-talented names, including Common, Usher, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu, and Mary J. Blige.

Glastonbury Festival 2015 - Day 1
Credit: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

The 11th-annual festival will also hold seminars geared to empowering all who attend—and even more exciting, both the Essence Empowerment Experience and Empower U presentations are absolutely free. Guest speakers include Deepak Chopra, and even one of our favorite stars from Empire, Jussie Smollett, who will host a discussion Friday evening.

Essence Festival Street Style
Credit: Hannah Selah

Another highlight: Essence Fest's inspiring street style. New Orleans is known for it's own rich culture, so the city's a natural backdrop for any picture posing fashionista. The resulting fashion-forward trends are unlike those you'll see anywhere else.

Not able to make it there yourself? Essence magazine plans to stream over 100 hours of content during the four-day festivities, so there's no need to feel left out. Stay in the know with the Essence Festival app and head over to Essence's website to learn more.