Essence Fest celebrates 25th anniversary with the new After Dark series

The party keeps going after the main stage performances this year.

Big Freedia
Big Freedia [Essence]

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Essence Festival and to commemorate this amazing feat in Black culture, Essence is making sure this is the biggest and best festival yet.

One way that they are pulling out all the stops is the introduction of the After Dark series. For all the late night people attending Essence Fest,  this is something to check out. Each night during Essence Fest, hours of music, dance, and even comedy will be specially curated by celebrity guests for themed nights.

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The series kicks off on July 4th with MC Lyte helming an evening honoring women in hip hop, including long time favorites Yo-Yo and Trina and newer mic assassin, Rapsody

“American Boy” singer Estelle will be MCing a night of reggae and Afrobeats featuring the likes of Wale, Spice and Power star Rotimi. 

The king of New Jack Swing, Teddy Riley will be on the scene as well. The Harlem native, who will soon be receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is excited to hit the stage with his long-time friends and collaborators.

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Riley hyped up the event on Instagram: “Are yall ready for this?! Come join me and my family July 6th for the Hollywood pre-star party and me jamming with my family & friend celebrating, then the main night July 7th you will see everyone in this photo and more of my friends at the Essence Festival! I’m so grateful to the most high & everyone in this photo!!”

Several more artists will be performing, including Big Freedia, Kim Coles, and August Alsina


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With the addition of the talent from the new After Dark series, this year’s Essence Fest will have a total of more than 80 performing artists for nightly performances, making this the largest number of performers ever to hit the Essence Fest stages.

Catch the full Essence Fest line-up here.