Julia Emmanuele
June 30, 2015 02:00 PM

We’re sure whatever you’ve got planned for Fourth of July weekend is pretty cool, but unless you’re going to be at the 2015 Essence Festival, it could probably be better.

The three-day fest kicks off in New Orleans on July 2, and promises a weekend packed with events, speakers and performances that you won’t want to miss, including appearances by everyone from Mary J. Blige and Kevin Hart to Usher and Empire star Jussie Smollett.

On the off-chance that you haven’t already bought your tickets – or you just want a quick refresher on what you can expect from the weekend – we’ve got everything you need to know about the 2015 Essence Festival:

When is it?
The festival kicks off on July 2 and runs through July 5, 2015.

Where is it?
The Essence Festival will once again take place in New Orleans, with events being held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Louisiana Superdome.

What events do they have planned?
Do you like concerts? There are plenty of those from some of the biggest artists in the world. Parties deejayed by the likes of Biz Markie and Funkmaster Flex? They have those too. Looking for something inspirational and motivating? You can attend talks from Deepak Chopra, Real Housewives star Kandi Burruss and Jazmine Sullivan. If that isn’t enough, Steve Harvey is hosting a dating show on Saturday, July 4. (Yes, you read that correctly, and yes it sounds awesome.)

Is Empire Guest Star Mary J. Blige #TeamCookie or #TeamAnika?

What about musical performances?
Usher, Mary J. Blige, Common, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliot and Trey Songz are just a few of the incredible artists performing.

You said something about Kevin Hart?
We did, indeed. The seemingly omnipresent comedian is bringing one of his sold-out tour stops to NOLA for the Essence Festival on July 2.

Let’s focus on the important things: What are my food options?
In addition to EssenceEats – which will bring some of the most iconic, most quintessentially New Orleans restaurants to the festival – there will be plenty of food trucks on hand to ensure that you get all of the beignets, po’ boys, barbecue shrimp, biscuits and jambalaya that you can eat.

What if I want to do something to give back?
The Essence Festival has you covered there too: On July 2, they’ll hold a day of service where festival attendees can help restore schools affected by Hurricane Katrina, commemorating the city’s 10 years of resilience since the devastation.

How do I buy tickets?
Tickets are available on the Essence Festival website and include three-day passes, single-day passes and tickets to individual events.

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