Every March, the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) music scene comes together to rave, dance and party outside at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami for ULTRA Music Festival. The ULTRA Music Festival experience is one that every EDM fan dreams of. It’s a weekend-long celebration of both the culture and music of electronic music with music and live sets by the world’s most famous DJs and performers.
ULTRA is held in conjunction with Winter Music Conference, or WMC, an annual festival of music that takes place around the city; ULTRA is the biggest draw of WMC, with more than 50,000 people per day on site. In 2013, ULTRA was expanded to take up two weekends in celebration of its 15th Anniversary, but it will go back to the single weekend format for the coming years.
The biggest names in the EDM world, and some artists that every music fan knows, like Madonna, have shown up on the ULTRA stages over the past 15 years. Some popular headliners include Moby, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, deadmau5 and mega-DJs Tiesto, David Guetta, Avicii, MSTRKRFT, Benny Benassi, Calvin Harris, and Carl Cox. Crossover artists, who aren’t EDM musicians but have a following in the scene, include The Cure, The Killers, Duran Duran, Black Eyed Peas, M83 and Bloc Party. Dancers are brought in from every party destination in the world, including Ibiza and Amsterdam, and sideshow attractions take place all around the grounds.
The vibe at ULTRA music festival is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s a high-energy community of music lovers and spring-breakers, rave newbie’s and veterans. There’s no age limit at this big party; all ages are welcome. You’ll find an eclectic crowd all coming together to jump and groove to disco, techno, dub-step, house, trance, hardcore, pop and industrial music. Each stage is named after a country where other ULTRA Music Festivals are held including Chile and Korea. Most performances are accompanied by laser shows and cutting edge projection art. It’s a wild fun time, with colors, lights and interesting characters aplenty.
In 1999, before electronic music was making the Top 100, ULTRA Music Festival was started as a one-day event on South Beach. The scene grew alongside the festival and today it’s regarded as one of the most important events of the year in the electronic music world and is a huge launching pad for artists.
Plan Your ULTRA Trip
Unlike some other music festivals, there’s no camping or lodging on the festival grounds. Bayfront Park is an urban park, right on the water, in Downtown Miami. There are many hotels within walking distance and there’s public transportation that will drop you off right in front of the site. Parking can be difficult and expensive in the area, but garages and valet are available.
Book in advance, ULTRA usually falls right around spring break and college students flock to Miami for South Beach partying, plus the added perk of ULTRA. Hotels fill up in advance, especially the ones closest to the festival. Every year the festival has grown, so secure your spot before everything gets booked.
If you want to stay on South Beach or Miami Beach, there’s a bus that you can take directly from the Beach to Bayfront Park, but be warned that traffic can be heavy that weekend. The whole city is celebrating ULTRA weekend.
Remember that Miami in March is still already hot. Temperatures are high and the festival is outside in the sun, so remember to pack your sunscreen and to drink a lot of water. Stay hydrated!
Be sure to check out Winter Music Conference for more events around the city while you’re in town for ULTRA. There are after-parties and more events that take place at satellite venues around the city.
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.