By CHEVEL JOHNSON
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Essence Festival is planning its return to New Orleans next summer after a two-year absence brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Essence Communications Inc. said Tuesday that its annual festival is scheduled June 30 to July 3. The event will include programming covering networking, finance, career, wellness, fashion, beauty and more at the convention center, nightly concerts at the Superdome and other entertainment in venues across the city. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city is excited about the event’s return. The festival was launched in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine and celebrates Black women, culture and communities.