This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the Ultra Music Festival 2016. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s an electronic dance music festival that’s held every year in Miami as part of the Winter Music Conference – a week long event in Miami – in March. People from all over the world come to Miami to take part in this conference as well as take part of Ultra Music Festival. To say the least it was my first time going after hearing so much hype about it for years and I had a blast. If you’ve never been I would suggest you go at least once. Here’s a little guide to help you plan as well as what to expect for the Ultra Music Festival.
Buy Your Tickets Way in Advance
This is a definite must! If you plan on going for the one next year I suggest checking the Ultra Music Festival site to see when they will be planning on starting their pre-sale. Reason being is that tickets for this event is expensive and it only gets more expensive as the date gets closer to the event – not to mention that tickets sell out really quick!
When I bought my tickets early last year I paid around $390, but I heard of people paying close to $500 dollars for theirs. VIP tickets are in the $1000 so unless you have money to blow I wouldn’t even suggest looking at that section.
If the general admission tickets seems like it would be too much for you than do what I did – get the installment plan. Even though my ticket cost around $390 I was only paying $85 a month until it was finally paid off. As you can see, that’s a way better deal than just paying the whole thing flat out. Start saving your money now if you’re seriously considering going to this festival. The price tag is no joke.
If you’re living in Miami like I am ( still got a hotel anyways! ) than you really don’t have to worry about this part, so you can go ahead and skip this section. To everyone else though I would continue reading this section. Tickets aren’t the only thing that sells out quick. Once the tickets are out hotels are going to be right behind them. As I said before Ultra Music Festival takes place during the Miami Winter Conference – a week long event – in March at the start of spring break. People from all over the globe will be flying in to Miami to enjoy their spring break even if they aren’t going to Ultra. It’s going to be a busy week for Miami.
The moment you decide you’re going to Ultra save up for your ticket AS WELL as for your accommodation. Best practice is to save up as early as you can (the year before if possible, its what I did!). Ultra is held every year at Bayfront Park which is in the middle of everything in Miami, so if possible I would suggest getting a hotel around that location. The next best areas if finding a hotel in that location isn’t possible is to check the South Beach area or the Brickell area. Those area are close to the event and are also where most of the after parties are going to be at if you so chose to go to them.
As the dates gets closer to the events it will start to get impossible to find any available rooms in those area and if you do find one it’s going to be pricey. Every hotel knows they’re going to be busy during that week in March, so they’re going to start charging an arm and a leg as the date gets closer to bring in the big bucks. I was hearing stories from people from the festival about how they tried booking a month in advance and the only thing they could find were hotels that were about 30 minutes to an hour away. Don’t let that be you. Same applies with hostels. If you have family members or friends that live in Miami I would suggest seeing if you can crash at their place.
What to Bring At Ultra Music Festival
Ultra takes place during the weekend – Friday to Sunday night. When you arrive on that Friday be prepared to wait for a good while before actually getting in to the festival ground unless of course you went really early to get in front of the line. Reason being is that 1. you have people from all over the world there in one spot and 2. you have to go through security and get searched before you can actually go into the festival ground. When Ultra starts selling their tickets on their site they will also have a list of items that you can and cannot bring on their site as well. Please read it as you can be denied entrance or have what ever item that was prohibited thrown out. Truth be told when I went that list was a joke. Selfie sticks, backpacks, masks, as well as some other silly things were on the prohibited list but yet everyone had them on the first day of the festival and security didn’t care!
Needless to say the second and third day I brought my selfie stick and backpack. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check the list of what you can and can’t bring. Always do. This may have been my first time to an Ultra Music Festival but it was my second electronic dance music festival I’ve been to. The first being Electric Daisy Carnival Orlando ( EDC Orlando 2015 ) and they were really strict about the items you couldn’t bring, throwing away anything that you were’t allowed to bring. As a rule of thumb, on the first day just bring the essential – everything that is allowed – and see how they are about the rules. If it turns out that they really don’t care then on the other days bring whatever it is that you really wanted to bring.
Now that that’s all said and done here are two items that you should absolutely bring.
Cameras. One thing that you should absolutely bring is either your camera or your GoPro. Your going to want to capture as much of the experience as you can so you can re-live it once everything is all said and done as well as share with your friends and family. I prefer to bring a GoPro as their really sturdy and you can put it on different types of mounts to get nice angles giving you better shots for your video. It also allows you to get into the action of the crowd dancing actually allowing you to capture how crazy it can really get in Ultra.
Cash. Everything inside Ultra operates on cash and not cards so be sure to have cash readily available on you. Yes, there are ATM’s in the festival ground but unless you get there really early in the day you’ll be waiting in ridiculously long lines through-out the day. Not to mention that majority of the ATM’s runs out of cash during the end of the day, you don’t want to wait all that time in line just to find out when it’s your turn that the ATM is out of cash – happened to me twice. They re-fill the ATM everyday but it’s always best to grab cash before going to Ultra each day to avoid the hassle. Food cost anywhere from $5 to $15 and vodka cocktails run anywhere from $12 – $15. They have beer as well but I didn’t grab any so I’m not sure exactly how much they cost.
What to Expect At Ultra Music Festival
Awesome Stage Sets
Theres were eight stages this year at Ultra and they did a really good job. Each stage will have different DJ’s playing as well as different types of genre of electronic music playing as well. Be prepared to do a lot of walking as well keep yourself hydrated. Some stages are far apart from each other and as you know Miami weather is pretty hot all year round. Add all the dancing you’ve been doing as well as everyones body heat and your body temperature is sure to be on the rise. Besides that do take the time to go out and see the other stages and not stick to just one stage. Each stage has something unique to them and yes you may have to do quite a bit of walking it’ll be worth it – each stage has something to offer as well as make for good pictures.
My two favorite stages were the main stage as well as the Disrupter.
The main stage which hosted the big headliners was the most crowded and is the one that is mostly shown on advertisement as well as commercials. Most people spend the majority of their Ultra Music Festival experience here. Expect for the crowd to be a little wild here especially when the big star DJ’s get up on stage. I recommend to have your camera’s and GoPro’s charged for this stage especially at night because not only do they have the best DJ’s play here but the theatrical production are pretty good too. Flames will be shooting out of the stage as well as smoke and of course everyone favorite – fireworks! They did a phenomenal job with the fireworks this year and the last day they went all out with it. Sadly though, my GoPro was out of juice so I wasn’t able to capture any of the ending firework show the last day.
There was one stage that looked like a huge spider and that stage was called the Disrupter. It looked freaking amazing to tell you the truth and I thought it was the best looking stage out there. It had lasers shooting at from it eyes and it even spit fire. The only thing that would have made it even cooler was if it could have moved. Makes for an awesome pictures as well as videos. The only problem I had about this stage was that it was well hidden somewhere in the back of festival behind all the trees right by the water. I didn’t know this stage even existed until the second day when I saw a large group walking behind some huge hill on some off beaten path.
People Moved By the Music
Yup that’s right people get lost into the music and start doing all types of dancing. Don’t worry you’ll be consumed too especially once you’ve find your favorite DJ. The most common type of dance style you’ll see here is the shuffle. If you don’t know what that is you should YouTube it and I’m guarantee you’ve seen it before. Every stage you go you’ll see people doing some form of the shuffle. Other dance styles are performed at these festivals as well. Electronic music – especially hearing it live – just has a way of making you want to go out and dance and move your body to it’s beat. Don’t be surprise when you see people doing all type of weird and crazy dance. For some of them you’ll probably think they’re on something – and they probably might be ha!
What I love about these types of festivals is that no one cares about how you dance or if you’re any good or not. Everyone is out here to have a good time and let loose from the real world. Even if you’re not a good dancer, neither is majority of the people there (trust me on that one). You’ll see people do all types of crazy and weird dance movements and just having fun making you want to jump in and let loose yourself. Go on ahead and enjoy yourself.
People Asking You For Drugs
It’s no surprise that electronic music festival are associated with drugs. Most people like to call it the Woodstock of today. Does that mean everyone that goes is on drugs? No, but there will be a lot who will be. Of, course a lot of people are afraid of bringing their own drugs in fear of getting caught by security so they hope to score some once their already inside. You’ll often get asked through out the day if you have some type of drug to sell. Just tell them no and they’ll move on without bothering. Nothing to get worried about. Chances are if you look just like a normal person you won’t get asked much. On the other hands if you have dreads like me or are wearing trippy or neon clothing or anything with a marijuana symbol on it, be prepared for people to ask you through out the day. Just a forewarning.
All in all I had a fun time at the Ultra Music Festival 2016 and met some really interesting people as well made some cool friends. I’m glad I decided to go out and experience this event and see what it was all about. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Ultra I would suggest you go – at least one in your lifetime.
Have you ever been to an Ultra Music Festival? If so, how was your experience?