Passion, Inspiration and Power take center stage at Africa’s first ever Essence Festival 2016 in Durban.

Passion, Inspiration and Power take center stage at Africa’s first ever Essence Festival 2016 in Durban.

Tourism Month in Durban kicks off with the announcement of the first-ever Essence Festival Durban; a sister event to the annual Essence Festival New Orleans. The Essence Festival Durban will take place on the 8th  to 13th  November 2016 at two of the city’s iconic attractions, the Durban ICC and the Moses Mabhida Stadium and will feature international performers, world renowned speakers and local artists. The Durban Business Fair is taking place simultaneously with the Essence Festival which strives to connect local businesses globally.

The City of Durban has been blessed to have hosted some of the most iconic events on the continent in recent years. Her Worship the Mayor of Durban, Cllr, Zandile Gumede said “We are excited as the City of Durban to be hosting an event of this magnitude. The Festival will provide an opportunity for local exhibitors, visual artists and businesses to showcase their capabilities. Gumede said hosting such a historic and beneficial programme is part of the City’s plans to create exchange programmes focusing on skills development, especially since the festival will focus mainly on the youth and women.

We want every young person in Durban to be armed with a skill, a trade, a qualification and knowledge that they can apply to grow the economy of the city.  Through partnering up with Essence in the Essence Festival Durban we want our city to showcase its cultural diversity, arts and heritage as well as its business acumen to South Africa and the rest of the world. Our vision is that Durban should be “Africa’s most caring and liveable city by 2030”, and this festival will not only help us to create a diverse economy but also make Durban a desirable place to live in,” she added.
“This is a milestone year for the Essence brand as we get ready to bring one of our most beloved events to the heart of South Africa in the coastal city of Durban which represents an exciting mix of cultures,” said Essence President Michelle Ebanks. “This inaugural Essence Festival Durban will bring together voices of influence and power from the continent of Africa, the U.S. and across the globe to connect communities and empower women spanning the diaspora”.

Phillip Sithole, Head of Durban Tourism confidently stated “that hosting major international events, with high media impact has been a long term focus of our destination visitor marketing strategy. This festival enhances our destination image by creating global awareness and attracting tourism business to generate future inbound travel. We are hoping that through this partnership we can infiltrate the USA Market and the rest of the African continent to encourage visitor arrivals to our city. Special tour packages have already been formulated and marketed to the USA as we speak,” concluded Mr Sithole.

Free and open to the public, Essence Festival Durban will fire you with inspiration. It will inform, entertain and change you.  Amongst other things the festival will include Beauty and Style-featuring designers from across the continent showcasing and selling their products, Lifestyle & Wellness Experience, a Music and Entertainment showcase as well as a Money and Technology (which will include the Durban Business Fair). The Arts, Craft and Design pavilion will showcase some of the best visual arts South Africa and the African continent have, whilst festinos will also be treated to the different tastes Durban has to offer.

Some of the music talent on show will include South Africa’s top artists such as Thandiswa Mazwai, Black Coffee, Big NuSz, Babes Wodumo, DJ Zinhle, featuring Wizkid from Nigeria and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Yolanda Adams from the USA (who will perform in the Gospel concert).  Power and inspiration speakers include author and radio personality Steve Harvey, singer/songwriters Kelly Price, Estelle and distinguished civil rights activist, community leader and television/radio host Rev. Al Sharpton.

This live event will draw massive crowds with a common passion, Locally, Pan African and Global to the must attend gathering with a purpose that would be an economic engine for the City.


The inaugural Essence Festival Durban, will be held November 8–13, 2016. The first-ever Essence Festival Durban—the sister event to the annual Essence Festival New Orleans—will feature international performers, world-renowned speakers and local artists.

The Essence Festival Durban will follow the format of the annual New Orleans event, presenting international performers and speakers to entertain and inspire, as well as a host of local artists and experts.  With nearly 500,000 annual attendees, the Essence Festival in New Orleans is an institution of reverence for black culture.  The Essence Festival in Durban will connect global communities of women, establishing an international forum of love and celebration of black culture.

•    Tuesday – Thursday, November 8-10th: will focus on the Durban Business Fair, a strategic programme initiated and managed by eThekwini Municipality under the Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit to ensure that businesses, particularly small, medium and micro enterprises (“SMMEs”), remain an active part of the City’s economy.  The activities include Business Connect sessions (interactive dialogues with established businesses and networks), Business Perfect (addressing soft skills), Trade Networking Sessions (enterprise and supplier development opportunities), Speed Marketing (business sales and generating deals), business seminars/conference (empowering businesses with knowledge and information; and imparting skills) and trainings (capacity building).  Thursday will also feature an international press conference inviting media from across the globe to an interactive presentation of the weeks’ activities.

•    Friday – Sunday, November 11-13th: will present the traditional Essence Festival format:

Daytime: with free inspirational and entertaining programming at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (“Durban ICC”) and the adjacent Exhibition Center during the day.  Free music performances featuring established and emerging local artists, and culturally-rich programming showcasing local beauty and fashion, food, art, books and other entrepreneurs will also be featured.  The critically acclaimed Empowerment Experience will be mounted during the day where celebrated speakers and thinkers engage in thought-provoking conversations.

Evening: The celebrated concert series will be featured Saturday evening with the largest international R&B, soul and hip hop artists, culminating with a Get Lifted concert on Sunday evening.