The 2017 ESSENCE Festival is fast approaching and we’ve got yet another reason why you’ll want to grab your tickets sooner than later.

ESSENCE Festival 2017 ticket packages are on sale now! For more info about tickets, accommodations and the latest news, visit our Festival page here.

We’ve already told you all about the star-studded lineup of artists set to take the stage for back to back evenings of unforgettable musical performances, but that’s just the beginning. Every year, the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience brings festival attendees face to face with dozens of the most prominent names in politics, entertainment, activism and beyond. This year, we’re proud to highlight some of the many influencers in our communities who are leading the charge for change on every level.

Free and open to the public, the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience Stage will serve as the intersection of passion and purpose, bridging the gap between this generation’s most prominent voices in leadership. From today’s social media activists and political visionaries, to those who have laid the groundwork before them, the conversations and keynote addresses set to take place will put the invaluable, intersectional voices of Black women at the forefront.

Acclaimed life coach and author Iyanla Vanzant will be on hand to offer words rooted in inspiration, truth and progressive self-reflection. 

Political icon and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, as well as renowned civil rights leader Reverened Al Sharpton will bring powerful messages of affecting change through action to help guide us through the current political climate.

Prolific auttor and speaker Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will make his ESSENCE Fest debut that’s sure to make a lasting impact, while author and social influencer Luvvie Ajaye will energize the crowd with words of truth.

Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, as well as RHOA star and attorney Phaedra Parks will each return to Festival to share valuable gems from their remarkable journeys in the entertainment industry thus far.

Women’s March Co-Founder Tamika Mallory and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign will be on hand to speak truth to power and expand on the work they’ve done so far to help affect progressive chagne in our communities.

Politicl activist Mary Pat Hector and interpretive artist Cleo Wade will each take to the ESSENCE Festival stages for the first time, where they will shed light on a new wave of social and artistic activism anchored by next generation’s leaders.

Plus, Cheryl Wills will host an all-star Gospel tribute to Grammy-Award winning, Soul and Gospel music icon Dr. Cissy Houston sponsored by Wal-Mart.

Bishop Lester Love will serve as this year’s Hour of Power host, with music provided DJ Charles “Bam Bam” Belonge and house band Church Friends.

Additional names to be announced soon.

“This year’s ESSENCE Festival will be the largest gathering of African Americans following the presidential election, as activists and policymakers come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our communities across America,” said ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “Intergenerational programming spanning love, health, money, politics and religion will provide the tools to facilitate healing and growth through the sharing of expertise and experiences.”  

For a full lineup of this year’s daytime speakers and artists, visit