15 October 2015
For immediate release
EThekwini and Time Inc.’s Essence join forces to host the highly successful Essence Festival in Durban

A three-year partnership between eThekwini Municipality and Time Inc.’s Essence to host the Essence Festival in Durban, South Africa in 2016 and 2017 was officially announced today, 15 October 2015, at the Durban City Hall.

The multi-day cultural event, designed to entertain and inspire, is held annually in Durban’s sister city of New Orleans in the United States and reaches over 450,000 attendees from across the globe.

EThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo said the City had made waves internationally in the past two years by hosting a number of high profile events, which will now include the Essence Festival to further cement the City as a choice international destination.

“This partnership will have a host of benefits for residents starting with the Durban Business Fair (DBF) programme which strives to connect local businesses globally. The Fair is taking place simultaneously with the Essence Festival launch programme,” he said.

“We are delighted to partner with the vibrant city of Durban to launch the Essence Festival globally in South Africa,” said Essence President Michelle Ebanks. “Hosting our first international Essence Festival in Durban purposefully extends our mission to convene the diaspora around shared aspirations.”

In addition, Nxumalo said the City will be showcased to the world when the Essence Festival Durban is aired on numerous American media platforms including television, print media such as travel magazines as well as online. The Festival will bring exciting and informative ideas to equip small businesses through empowerment seminars across various sectors including career guidance workshops and other empowerment initiatives aimed at the youth.

“For more than 20 years, the Essence Festival has brought thousands of people together in New Orleans from near and far to celebrate a world-class event,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City of New Orleans. “I am thrilled that this festival is now expanding internationally to Durban, South Africa. The people of New Orleans know first-hand that the Essence Festival has not only enhanced our cultural economy, but it has also made a meaningful impact across the community through service and personal empowerment.”

Nxumalo said the Essence partnership would continue to focus on the development of women and the youth in business. A number of women-owned businesses will be selected to trade at the Festival which will boost their profile and drive sales for the company. “The Essence Festival attracts over 450,000 people annually over three days. This will be beneficial to eThekwini as it will boost tourism and economic growth. It is also in line with the City’s Visitor Marketing Strategy which is aimed at increasing visitors coming to Durban,” Nxumalo added.

The partnership will also aid the City to establish its own annual events such as the KwaZulu-Natal Imbizo to empower artists and production businesses with skills while providing a platform for them to showcase their work.


Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications, Tozi Mthethwa and ESSSENCE Sr. Director of Communications, Dana Baxter

For more information members of the media can contact Gugu Mbonambi on 031 311 4855 or email: gugu.mbonambi@durban.gov.za or Princess Nkabane on 031 311 4818 or email:princess.nkabane@durban.gov.za or Dana Baxter on 212-522-1634 or email: dbaxter@essence.com