Essence Among Us
July 3-5 marks the 15th annual Essence Festival, which seeks to deliver music, celebration and a sense of community. During the day, cultural activities will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center; these are free and open to the public. Speakers include Bill Cosby and Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook. During the evenings, a wide array of talent will take to the stages (now this, you have to pay for). Check out international acts including Beyonce, her sister Solange, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Maxwell, Salt-N-Pepa, Al Green and dozens more. Local acts, including DJ Soul Sister, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Irvin Mayfield and Trombone Shorty will also be present.

Lovely in Linen
Some seasonal trends are ridiculous in certain climates (like skinny jeans in the summer), but some are actually pretty functional – a white sundress or a white linen suit not only looks good but it also feels cool. On August 2, the annual Whitney White Linen Night, an art walk at which to see and be seen, takes place in the Warehouse Arts District. Dozens of galleries with artwork encompassing all genres will throw open their doors, welcoming a bevy of guests. The gallery entrances are free; drinks and light snacks will be available for purchase. When you’ve glimpsed at all the artwork and mingled with the artists, head over to the after-party at the Contemporary Arts Center for cuisine, more cocktails and live music.
Information, 528-3805.

Running of the Bulls
In our city, we take influences from a variety of cultures; this includes Spanish. The Running of the Bulls, an annual nine-day ordeal in San Fermin, Spain, allows daredevils to show off their bravado – some call it festive, others call it foolish. But here in New Orleans there’s a different, slightly more lighthearted take on the classic Encierro (running of the bulls): The San Fermin in Nueva Orleans festival.
The merriment will begin at Rio Mar on the evening of July 10, with entertainment by Dr. Gumbo’s Spanish Soundsystem and flamenco guitarist John Lawrence. The following morning, at 8 a.m. the “bulls,” (who are actually the Big Easy Rollergirls), will stampede into an eager crowd gathering at Conti and Burgundy streets in the French Quarter (get your early-morning cocktail at the nearby Three Legged Dog Bar), and the Post-Encierro Fiesta will take place at the Gazebo Café on Decatur Street.

That night, Chickie Wah Wah will feature Los Poboy-Citos and Dr. Gumbo’s Soundsystem. As if that’s not enough activity, there will also be an Ernest Hemingway contest on Sunday, July 12, as part of the “Pobre de Mi” party. Olé, y’all.

A Cocktail Party for the Whole City
Whether you prefer a light beer or a hearty Scotch on the rocks, the annual Tales of the Cocktail has something to offer everyone who enjoys a good drink.
Tales of the Cocktail, an internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held annually in the Crescent City will take place July 8-12, bringing together the cocktail community: award-winning mixologists, bartenders, chefs, designers and authors will collaborate for five days, celebrating the history and culture of making drinks.
The festival, as usual, offers a smattering of dinners, demos, tastings, competitions, seminars, book signings, tours, parties and more booze. The signature cocktail this year is the Creole Mint Julep (Ed. Note: Check out Last Call, pg. 134 for more on this). Among the highlights of Tales of the Cocktail are a New Orleans Cocktail tour, during which historian Joe Gendusa takes guests on a walk through history to explore famous bars and restaurants in the French Quarter; Wedding Cakes and Cocktails at Antoine’s; the Great Whiskey Debate at the Bourbon House; Chef & The Fat Man Radio Show; the Wormwood Society Grande Soiree d’Absinthe; and even a chartered flight with music and cocktails to a mystery destination.
Information, 948-0511,

Tooting his Horn
While his life was dotted with both troubles and successes, Louis Armstrong ultimately left a positive influence on the city and the world with his famous trumpet-playing, his sweet lyrics and the scats he sang in raspy-voiced wonder.
To honor Armstrong’s legacy (and really, another excuse for a free festival), French Quarter Festivals Inc. will host the ninth annual Satchmo SummerFest from July 30-Aug. 2 in the French Quarter.
At this festival, treat yourself to traditional jazz, contemporary jazz, brass bands, children’s programming and a variety of speaker seminars with nationally renowned hosts. There will be jazz exhibits and even a second-line parade down the always musical Frenchmen Street. The festival is also seeking volunteers and sponsors to make this community event possible, so if you’re interested in getting involved, check out the Web site.
Information, 522-5730,