By: Liz Cepeda
Learn all you need to know about this year’s Ultra Music Festival.
Party people from around the world escape rainy, gray springtime and descend on sunny 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 over 70,000 music-lovers, the festival started two decades ago as a small one-day party on South Beach to cap off the Winter Music Conference.
Almost 20 years later, it's now the world's premiere EDM festival spawning Ultra festivals in Japan, Brazil, Croatia, South Korea, South Africa, and other countries. The Miami festival, however, is still the biggest and baddest and set to take over Bayfront Park once again. Expect a high-energy crowd relishing a euphoric dance experience with major pyrotechnics, confetti and lasers. Lots of lasers. Enough to put your cat in a straightjacket amount of lasers.
Drop a Beat: Artists and Lineup
Ultra has released the Phase 1 lineup for 2018, and it does not disappoint. Find your favorites like David Guetta, Tiësto, Afrojack, Carl Cox, Hardwell, among others and be sure to check out the 2018 Resistance lineup as well.
Artists will perform in one of the eight stages located throughout Bayfront Park. Like most music festivals, stage hopping is a necessary must to experience the full range of Ultra’s vibes. Bop your head to DJ sets throughout the park and drop in on the Live Stage to hear live instrumentation of some kind, whether it’s drums, guitar, synths or vocals. Your tickets give you access to all the music, so rave your heart away.
Many artists choose Miami’s Ultra Music Festival to debut new music because of its vast international audience, so you will be among the first lucky enough to hear the latest soon-to-be hits before they hit the radio.. Every single stage is packed with the best EDM talent spanning the globe so no matter which stage you stumble upon you’ll be exposed to the beats you’ll be thumping to the rest of the year.
Insider Tips: How to Plan Your Ultra Trip Right
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 among festival goers. Parking can be difficult, so public transportation, taxis and shuttles are recommended. Parking garages and valet are available, just be prepared for lots and lots of traffic.
Remember it's Miami and temperatures are already on the rise, so dress for the weather (neon colors are welcomed), wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. There are places throughout the grounds to refill water bottles. Most on-site vendors only accept cash, so visit the ATM beforehand. Also, beware of pickpockets and keep your smartphone closely guarded. You can’t post your crazy stories without it.
While Ultra is no doubt the main event of the week, the entire city is filled with incredible parties and satellite 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 during Miami Music Week®.
Avoid FOMO: Download Ultra’s Mobile App
Make sure you download the Ultra app to find out about special guests and surprise appearances at the event. These special guests have included the likes of Cashmere Cat, who ended his set at the Worldwide Stage with a surprise vocal performance from Ariana Grande, Madonna, Diplo Kiesza and P. Diddy, among others. Don't expect these appearances to be advertised in advance either, as these are only announced minutes before they are scheduled to take the stage via Twitter or a push notification from the official Ultra app.
Book Your Hotel ASAP
Hotels often sell out, so if you don't plan in advance you may find yourself with limited options. Do your lodging homework, it’ll pay off. The best spots will be in Downtown, Brickell, Miami Beach or near the MIA Airport.
Staying in Downtown Miami or Brickell
Those who are only coming for the weekend of the event choose to stay in a hotel as close to the event grounds as possible. This is by far the most popular option. One of the more convenient aspects of Ultra Music Festival is its location in the middle of Downtown Miami, meaning the event is within walking distance of dozens of large hotels. The ability of being able to leave Ultra and be comfortably within your hotel room in as little as 15 minutes is ideal after being on your feet for hours.
Staying on Miami Beach
Those who make the festival a week-long vacation tend to choose a luxury hotel on South Beach, stay for the entire week, attend Miami Music Week® parties and events during the days leading up to the festival and secure transportation to and from South Beach to the festival each day. It’s the best way to party and experience Miami’s beach lifestyle.
Staying in South Miami or Near Airport
Another practical option is to stay in a hotel near Coral Gables, South Miami or near Miami International Airport. These hotels are likely the most affordable, and with Miami-Dade Transit’s convenient travel options, you can travel to and from Ultra without the hassle of sitting in Miami’s traffic. Budget-conscious travelers should look into these areas to get the most bang for their bucks.
Transportation to and from Ultra
A quick and easy way to get around during Ultra is the MetroRail or Tri-rail to and from the festival each day. You will need to connect at Government Center Station and take the free MetroMover to Bayfront Park.
There are some affordable hotels near Miami International Airport that are within walking distance to a MetroRail Station. The trains have extended hours so partygoers can get home or to their hotels without the need to drive, take a taxi or use other ride-sharing services.
If you opt to stay in Miami Beach, there is a water taxi that lets you travel by boat from South Beach to Bayside, which is next to the event. Make sure you check the schedules in advance. It's another fun and unique experience that will give you more to talk about when you get home.
Ultra's Ticket Options
There are two types of tickets to get into Ultra: GA (General Admission) and VIP tickets. All tickets are for three full days of Ultra Music Festival. Single-day tickets are not available. Every ticket grants access to all eight stages with the exception of a few select areas for VIP ticket-holders only. VIP tickets offer the lux option with enhanced amenities, such as separate viewing platforms.
Currently, there are only two types of tickets left for purchase: