UPDATE — ESSENCE Festival organizers have rescinded the earlier statement that said that negative COVID-19 tests would be sufficient for entry into the festival. Event leaders say the social media post contained incorrect information and should not have been sent out.

To attend any aspect of the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, guests must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In a major reversal of policy, the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture said Friday that it will allow attendees to show a negative COVID test result for admission to its ticketed concerts in the Superdome and other events.

Previously, Essence had said proof of a COVID vaccination was mandatory for admission. Those opting to show a negative test must use results from a testing facility, not a home COVID test, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

The policy change, announced via social media early Friday, comes too late for some fans who already canceled flights and hotel rooms or sold their tickets because of the vaccination requirement.

The messaging on the festival’s admission policy has been confusing from the start. Auto-generated information that came with electronic Ticketmaster receipts for comedian Kevin Hart’s Thursday show said that either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result was good for admission. But that was not the case.

In the days leading up to the festival, Essence officials and the festival’s messaging on the “frequently asked questions” section of its website insisted that only proof of vaccination was acceptable.

That policy changed with Friday’s announcement, coming only 12 hours before three nights of Superdome concerts kick off with a show headlined by rapper Nicki Minaj.