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Our top picks of the month’s events

Essence Music Festival, July 2-4

Citywide Cocktail Party
New Orleans is the city where the cocktail was first created; it is also the city where the cocktail is most celebrated.
Tales of the Cocktail, held July 21-25, is the annual internationally known festival of cocktails, which helps locals and visitors keep cool during one of the hottest months of the year.

With mouth-watering cocktails galore, spirited luncheons, educational seminars, book-signings, contests, parties and tours, the annual festival grows bigger and better each year.

Drawing a number of renowned mixologists and celebrity guests, Tales of the Cocktail will again host a smattering of events that will keep guests satisfied, educated and most likely, pleasantly tipsy.

This year, one of the highlights is the appearance of celebrity guest, the raven-haired burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese, who is partnering with Cointreau for a seductive “Be Cointreauversial” performance at House of Blues. This event will kick off the festivities on July 21 and 22; check out the festival’s website for the dozens of events that comprise Tales of the Cocktail.

Information, 948-02511, www.talesofthecocktail.com.

“Fourth”right Festival
Fireworks are synonymous with excitement, and July 4 in New Orleans is one of the most exciting times of the year, especially if you’re at the Riverfront. Go 4th on the River brings together all kinds of local establishments – restaurants, bars and shops – for a big celebration for people of all ages.

During the day, the Riverwalk Marketplace will feature shopping and specials,  and if you’re lucky enough to hitch a ride on a riverboat, you’ll have a fantastic view of the Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza. (Those who watch it from the shore never claim disappointment, either.) The fireworks begin at 9 p.m. – an astounding salute that lights up the summer sky in red, white and blue, and maybe some black and gold, too. Information, www.go4thontheriver.com.

Essence’s Sweet Sixteen
July 2-4 marks the 16th anniversary of the Essence Festival, which seeks to deliver music, celebration and a sense of community. During the day, the fest hosts  numerous cultural activities and the Empowerment Seminar series that is free and open to the public.

Speaking a wide range of topics are Bill Cosby, Darren Sharper, Camille Whitworth, Dr. Andre Perry and dozens more. Friday, July 2 the topics focus on love and relationships; the following day, African-American education; and the last day will be performance heavy with the “All Star Gospel Salute.”

Come evening time, however, the parties get started at the Louisiana Superdome with a star-studded lineup that includes Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Arrested Development, Monica and Alicia Keys. Be sure to check out the numerous local bands who will also be making appearances. Those include Little Freddie King, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Irma Thomas, Irvin Mayfield and more.

Information, www.essencemusicfestival.com.

Getting Bull-ied
On July 10 at 8 a.m., a stampede of activity takes place in the French Quarter, leaving some of you to wonder if you’ve been somehow transported to a confusing but very fun version of Spain.

 The annual “Running of the Bulls,” featuring the Big Easy Rollergirls (and roller girls from around the country) in lieu of a bunch of angry bulls, is a lighthearted festival paying tribute to the world-famous event in Pamplona, Spain.

While being mauled to death by a bull or encountering a young Ernest Hemingway is highly unlikely, spectators do run the risk of getting battered by a foam bat or some other sort of “weapon” brandished by a roller girl. The encierro will begin at the corner of Conti and Burgundy streets at the Three-Legged Dog bar.  Guests are encouraged to wear or carry something red.

The night before, July 9, a pre-party will be held at The Chicory, featuring drinks, a performance by Flamenco troup Ven Pa’Ca and munchies from five renowned local Spanish restaurants.

The fun doesn’t end when the roller girls are tired out (is this even possible?). Instead, the party will continue with food, drinks and dancing in the streets celebrating yet another unique New Orleans tradition.  Saturday evening there will be a “Fiesta de Pantalones” (Festival of Pants) and Sunday the merriment continues with El Pobre Mi (Poor Me) at the Ernst Café and The Chicory.  Information, www.nolabulls.com.

Patriots & Problem-Solving
NORD/Crescent City Lights Youth Theater will put on a family-friendly musical with a patriotic finale: Golly Gee Whiz will be held July 1-11 with seven entertaining performances at the Ty Tracy Theatre on the first floor of Gallier Hall. The show takes place in 1939 in the fictional town of Happyville – a town that is dealing with an economy crisis; that is, until a group of local kids step up with some innovative resolutions. Directed by Samantha King and choreographed by Myisha Dunn with Julie Condy as the musical director, the play will certainly inspire creative solutions and a little summer patriotism right in time for Independence Day. A live band accompanies all performances with Janna Ernst (New Orleans Opera) on piano, Curtis Pierre (Casa Samba) percussion and local jazz musicians, Paul Thibodaux (drums) and David Pulphus (bass). Information, 598-3800, www.crescentcitylights.org.
 

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