When the 2017 ESSENCE Festival kicks off in New Orleans on Friday, Coca-Cola will be there, continuing a longstanding partnership and encouraging guests to Share an ICE COLD Coke at the African American music and lifestyle festival of the summer.

Coca-Cola has been the presenting sponsor of the ESSENCE Festival for 22 years. With a host of powerhouse musical performances, empowering sessions and community volunteerism, the festival experience transforms the weekend into a memorable one that fans return for year after year.

“The ESSENCE Festival has grown from a celebration of music to an empowering weekend filled with entertainment, activities and inspiration,” says Lori Billingsley, vice president of community connections, Coca-Cola North America. “It is the premier gathering for African-American women, who come from all over the country and the world to have a good time while refreshing their mind, body and spirit.”

The ESSENCE Festival was birthed from the desire to celebrate the magazine’s 25th anniversary. The next year, Coca-Cola became the presenting sponsor of the event, and the collaboration has culminated over the years as the festival continues to grow in both prominence and mission. 

Coca-Cola will be continuing its partnership with the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans and encouraging guests to Share a Coke at the African-American music and lifestyle festival this summer

“ESSENCE really listens to its audience and the women who attend the event,” Billingsley says. “The festival continues to evolve as women seek more opportunities for empowerment, motivation and engagement with the vast network of successful African-American women that only ESSENCE can bring together. It has really tapped into something meaningful that resonates with festival attendees.”

Coca-Cola encourages guests to Share a Coke at the 2017 Essence Music Festival

This year’s festival features another star-studded musical lineup, with legendary acts like Diana Ross and Chaka Khan performing alongside newer talents like Chance the Rapper and John Legend, and New Orleans favorites Trombone Shorty and Master P. Speakers at the festival include Congresswoman Maxine Waters, award-winning director Ava DuVernay, broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien and Georgetown professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

Coke will have a major presence at the festival, giving attendees a chance to enjoy ice-cold Coca-Cola throughout the Crescent City, from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the New Orleans Morial Convention Center to the French Quarter.

'ESSENCE really listens to its audience and the women who attend the event. The festival continues to evolve as women seek more opportunities for empowerment, motivation and engagement with the vast network of successful African-American women that only ESSENCE can bring together. It has really tapped into something meaningful that resonates with festival attendees.'

Highlights include the Coca-Cola booth at the convention center, where guests will be able enjoy a morning jam session, karaoke to hot hits, customize their own Share a Coke mini can, take part in social and digital experiences, and enjoy celebrity appearances. Coca-Cola also will host the Refreshing Voices Panel Series, where visionaries, entrepreneurs and artists will discuss their personal and inspirational journeys to success.

“Coca-Cola and ESSENCE have shared a lot of special and memorable moments over the years,” says Zakia Holland, director, Coca-Cola brand activations, Coca-Cola North America. “And Share an ICE COLD Coke is all about creating moments of togetherness and celebrating summer’s hottest experiences with the people you care about, which is what will happen at this year's ESSENCE Festival.”

In addition to its relationship with the festival, Coca-Cola has supported and shared many memorable moments with the city of New Orleans over the years. Continuing the tradition of giving back, during the ESSENCE Festival The Coca-Cola Foundation will award a $198,000 grant to Delgado Community College, the oldest and largest community college in Louisiana. The grant will provide 23 Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarships to African-American women to help them earn their Associate degrees.