Party people from around the world descend on Miami in late March for the annual Ultra Music Festival, a three-day electronic dance music (EDM) party held across eight stages at Downtown's sprawling Bayfront Park. Attracting upwards of 70,000 ravers and revelers each day, the party started in 1999 as a humble one-day festivity on South Beach. Over 15 years later, it's the world's premiere EDM festival spawning 10 other festivals worldwide throughout the year in destinations as far and wide as Ibiza and Tokyo.
The festival overlaps with Winter Music Conference (WMC) and the week is commonly referred to as Miami Music Week (MMW) with DJs spinning at various satellite pool parties and late night bashes at clubs across town. In 2015, Ultra became an 18 and over event where previously all ages were welcome.
The biggest names in EDM headline Ultra's main stage, while emerging talents and live artists are found at seven other stages throughout the park. Past headliners include Tiesto, David Guetta, AVICII, Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia. Other major artists include Moby, Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers. Live sets performed by such diverse artists as Snoop Dog and MIA are crowd pleasers, and Madonna even dropped in for a surprise appearance.
It's a high-energy crowd of music lovers, Spring Breakers, rave newbies and veterans coming together to jump and groove to disco, techno, dub-step, house, trance, hardcore, pop and industrial music. It's an overwhelming and euphoric experience with a sea of people dancing together while major pyrotechnics, confetti and laser lights flash to the beat of the music.
Plan Your Ultra Trip
Bayfront Park is located in the heart of Downtown Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay. There are many hotels within walking distance and others a short drive away in South Beach that are popular amongst festivalgoers. Parking can be difficult, so public transportation, taxis and shuttles are recommended. However, parking garages and valet are available. Just be prepared for traffic.
If you're heart is set on Ultra, it's smart to plan your trip in advance. Hotels are at their highest prices of the year and often sell out, so snagging a room in advance can offer peace of mind and savings. Ultra, itself, has been known to sell out and is also expensive. Weekend passes start around $300 and individual day tickets are not offered. It's smart to take advantage of early bird pricing.
At the festival, it's important to remember that temperatures are already hot in Miami in March, so dress appropriately, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. There are multiple stations throughout the grounds to fill water bottles. Most onsite vendors only accept cash, so be prepared. Also, beware of pickpockets and keep your smartphone closely guarded.
While Ultra is no doubt the main event of the week, the entire city is filled with incredible parties and events. It's possible to see your favorite DJs in more intimate settings throughout the week, so even if you don't get a ticket to Ultra, there are plenty of reasons to visit Miami during MMW.
Tickets to the festival sell out just about as fast as they go on sale. General admission early bird and advance tickets are available for purchase, and at a lower price, but these sell out quickly. Three-day general admission and VIP tickets are also available. For more on purchasing tickets, visit ULTRA’s ticket webpage.