Ultra Music Festival is an annual outdoor electronic music festival that takes place during March in the city of Miami, Florida. The festival was founded in 1999 by Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes and is named after the 1997 Depeche Mode album, Ultra.
Ultra Music Festival is held in Downtown Miami at Bayfront Park. It was a one-day festival from 1999 to 2006, then grew into a two-day weekend event from 2007 to 2010. Since 2011, Ultra has taken place across three days (Friday through Sunday) during the month of March. In 2012, a record attendance of 155,000 people attended the festival. In 2013, for the first time in Ultra’s history, the festival took place across two consecutive weekends welcoming a combined attendance of 330,000 people. In 2014, the festival returned to its original one weekend format, selling out pre sale tickets in under five minutes. The most recent edition of Ultra, in 2017, welcomed 165,000 people to the festival.
As of 2016, Ultra Music Festival is home to seven stages that span the picturesque Bayfront Park which include the Main Stage, the Live stage, the MegaStructure, the Worldwide stage, the UMF Radio stage, the Resistance stage, and the Oasis stage.
Although they share names, Ultra Music Festival was not directly tied to Ultra Records, an electronic music record label. However, the two entities did announce a "global alliance" in August 2012, which would allow them to collaborate on marketing and cross-promotion.
Other Ultra Worldwide festivals and events take place across the world in locations like Cape Town & Johannesburg, South Africa; Seoul, Korea; Singapore, Singapore; Tokyo, Japan; Hvar and Split, Croatia; Mexico City, Mexico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Bogotá, Colombia; and many other destinations. At the end of Ultra Music Festival 2017, it added two more countries: India and Australia. The twentieth edition of Ultra Music Festival took place March 23–25, 2018.
|Ultra Music Festival|
|Genre||Electronic music festival|
|Date(s)||March 23–25, 2018|
|Location(s)||Miami, Florida, United States (Main location)|
2000 (Miami Beach)
2012–present (Buenos Aires)
2012–present (South Korea)
2014–present (South Africa)
2015 (Puerto Rico)
2016–present (Hong Kong)
2017–present (Shanghai, China)
2018 (Beijing, China)
2019 (Hainan, China)
|Inaugurated||March 13, 1999|
|Most recent||March 23–25, 2018|
|Organized by||Ultra Enterprises, Inc.|
Ultra Music Festival was inaugurated and produced in 1999 by business partners Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes. The first festival was held as a one-day event on March 13, 1999. Artists at Ultra's first festival included Paul van Dyk, Rabbit in the Moon, Josh Wink, and DJ Baby Anne. The first Ultra Beach Music Festival, which was held at Collins Park in Miami Beach proved popular, with an estimated ten thousand concertgoers in attendance. However, Faibisch and Omes still saw a financial loss of between $10,000 to $20,000 during the festival's inaugural year.
However, in March 2000 the festival returned to South Beach's Collins Park and was met with even more success. The festival was immediately renewed for a third year.
Due to the massive rise in attendance between 1999 and 2000, festival organizers decided to relocate to Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami for Ultra's third annual event in 2001. Ultra Music Festival continued to bring the biggest names in electronic dance music to Miami with performances by Robin Fox, Tiësto, EC Twins, Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Sander Kleinenberg, Photek, Josh Wink, DJ Craze, Pete Tong, Erick Morillo, and Rabbit in the Moon from 2001 to 2005. In 2005, Fabisch met with Adam Russakoff, who has since been the executive producer, director of business affairs, and talent buyer for Ultra Music Festival and Ultra Worldwide. 2005 was also the year that Carl Cox and Ultra worked together to curate the Carl Cox and Friends Arena, formerly known as the Carl Cox Global Arena, which has been a mainstay at Ultra Music Festival for the past twelve years. With the record-breaking attendance of the seventh annual Ultra Music Festival in 2005, the festival was again relocated to another venue, Bicentennial Park, for 2006. In 2007, the festival held its first two-day event at Bicentennial Park with more than 50,000 concert goers in attendance, which was another record at the time for Ultra. The festival celebrated its 10th anniversary during March 28–29, 2008 with performances by Tiësto, Underworld, Justice, Paul van Dyk, Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, MSTRKRFT, deadmau5, Annie Mac, Eric Prydz, Ferry Corsten, Calvin Harris, Moby, The Crystal Method, Boys Noize, Benny Benassi, Armand van Helden, The Bravery, David Guetta, and many more.
With an estimated attendance of over 70,000 people, Ultra Music Festival set a new record for the City of Miami for number of tickets sold at a single event. The eleventh annual edition of the festival occurred during March 27–28, 2009—the lineup included more crossover acts and live bands featuring the likes of The Black Eyed Peas, The Prodigy, The Ting Tings, Santigold, Crystal Castles, The Whip, and Perry Farrell. Ultra's twelfth edition took place during March 26–27, 2010, featuring exclusive performances from Tiësto, deadmau5, Groove Armada, Orbital, Little Boots, Sasha & Digweed, Above & Beyond, Armin van Buuren, Carl Cox, Swedish House Mafia and The Bloody Beetroots. Each stage was accompanied with visual arts provided by VJs Vello Virkhaus, Psyberpixie, and Cozer.
The festival sold out for the first time with over 100,000 attendees, where it was also announced that the thirteenth annual edition would take place over the course of three days during March 2011. Ultra Music Festival expanded to a three-day festival in 2011, spanning the weekend of March 25–27, 2011. Also at Ultra's 2011 edition, Armin van Buuren debuted a stage dedicated to his radio show, A State of Trance, celebrating 500 episodes. Like the Carl Cox & Friends Arena, the A State of Trance stage continues to be a mainstay at Ultra Music Festival, taking place on the third day of the festival each year. The A State of Trance 500 stage featured artists like Ferry Corsten, Markus Schulz, ATB, Cosmic Gate, Gareth Emery, Sander van Doorn, Alex M.O.R.P.H., and more.
The fourteenth edition of Ultra Music Festival was held from March 23–25, 2012. Due to the construction of the Miami Art Museum at Bicentennial Park, the event was moved back to Bayfront Park for the first time since 2005.
Early bird pre-sale tickets for Ultra Music Festival 2012 sold out within seconds. Shortly after, pre sale ticket prices increased from $149 to $229. This edition of Ultra featured artists like Kraftwerk, Bassnectar, Justice, Avicii, Fatboy Slim, Wolfgang Gartner, Richie Hawtin, Skrillex, Pretty Lights, M83, Duck Sauce, Kaskade, and many others. Madonna made a special surprise appearance during Avicii's closing set on the second night of Ultra 2012. This was the day after the international release of the "Queen of Pop's" twelfth studio album, MDNA. 2012 was also the year that Ultra Music Festival debuted its live stream, Ultra LIVE.
In honor of its fifteenth anniversary, the 2013 edition of Ultra Music Festival was held over two weekends, March 15–17, 2013, and March 22–24, 2013. Phase one of the festival's lineup was officially revealed in January 2013, confirming appearances from David Guetta, deadmau5, and Tiësto on both weekends, along with Swedish House Mafia, who used the closing slot of the festival during the second weekend to serve as the finale of their official farewell tour, "One Last Tour". Other artists on Ultra's 2013 lineup included Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Richie Hawtin, Boys Noize, Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Alesso, Dog Blood (a project between Skrillex and Boys Noize), Luciano, Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, Martin Solveig, Zedd, and many more.
On January 7, 2013, after organizers requested additional road closures for the event, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff proposed a resolution calling for disapproval of the second weekend. Sarnoff believed that allowing the event to be held across two weekends would be "disruptive to the local business community and area residents due to noise, nuisance behavior of festival goers, and grid lock traffic," regardless of the fact that Ultra generated $79 million during its previous year. The city council voted in favor of continuing with the second weekend on January 10, 2013, charging the organizers for police and fire services.
Ultra Music Festival set another record after its fifteenth edition, welcoming a combined total of 330,000 people to Bayfront Park throughout both weekends.
For 2014, the festival returned to a single weekend, which took place March 28–30, 2014. Phase one of the festival lineup was unveiled in December 2013, confirming headline appearances by major acts including Armin van Buuren, Afrojack, Carl Cox, David Guetta, Hardwell, Fedde Le Grand, Krewella, Martin Garrix, New World Punx, Nicky Romero, Tiësto, and Zedd. After being diagnosed with a blocked gallbladder and going back to Sweden for surgery, deadmau5 replaced Avicii as the final act on the main stage for Saturday.
Notable performances during the festival included the premiere of Eric Prydz's new live show "Holo", the debut of Diplo and Skrillex's new side project Jack Ü, Above & Beyond's set being interrupted by a rainstorm (requiring them and their equipment to be moved backstage and facing away from the audience, a scenario the duo felt was "one of the more unusual gigs we've ever played"), the debut performance of Armin van Buuren and Benno de Goeji's duo Gaia, and deadmau5 "trolling" the audience during his set with a remix of Martin Garrix's "Animals" set to "Old McDonald Had a Farm".
After the gatecrashing incident in 2014, some uncertainties arose as to whether Ultra would still be held; however, organizers still announced that the 2015 edition would be held from March 27–29, 2015. Organizers also announced plans for a comprehensive review of the festival's security arrangements with the involvement of the Miami Police Department, which assessed how security could be improved to "prevent a criminal incident of this nature from happening again." Following the incident, Miami mayor Tomás Pedro Regalado suggested that the gatecrashing incident could be deemed a breach of the organizers' contract with the city, which would block Ultra from being held in Miami.
In a meeting on April 24, 2014, Miami commissioners voted 4 to 1 against banning the festival, allowing Ultra to remain in downtown Miami for 2015. Marc Sarnoff, the lone commissioner to vote in favor of banning Ultra, presented footage of lewd behavior by attendees at previous editions, and contended that the event effected the quality of life for downtown residents because they were being harassed by visitors. The remaining commissioners supported the festival's presence because of the exposure and positive economic effects it brings to Miami, and Keon Hardemon disputed the argument that it affected downtown residents, as they, in his opinion, chose to live in the city so they could participate in local events. However, the approval was made on the condition that organizers introduce facilities for addressing security, drug usage and lewd behavior by attendees. In a related move, organizers announced in September 2014 that Ultra would no longer admit minors, in order to improve the overall safety and experience of attendees. In addition organizers hired the retiring Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez to oversee security for future events.
On January 12, 2015, Ultra co-founder Alex Omes, who had left the organization in 2010, was found dead at the age of 43. No cause of death was released.
The 2015 lineup included Andrew Bayer, Avicii, Andy C, Axwell, Dash Berlin, Dirty South, Eric Prydz, Galantis, Hardwell, Hot Since 82, Martin Garrix, Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello, Zeds Dead, and others. The event was formally closed by Skrillex, later joined by Diplo as Jack Ü, and featuring guest vocalists such as CL ("Dirty Vibe", "MTBD"), Kiesza ("Take Ü There"), Sean Combs (who joined CL with a rendition of "It's All About the Benjamins"), and Justin Bieber for Jack Ü's new single "Where Are Ü Now". Video game streaming website Twitch took over as the host of the festival's official webcast.
A new stage area known as Resistance was also introduced for 2015, which focused upon lesser-known "underground" electronic musicians in genres such as deep house and techno, and featured a 360-degree stage installation known as "Afterburner", designed by the British collective Arcadia Spectacular.
The initial lineup of the 2016 edition, held March 18–20, 2016 was announced on December 16, 2015; among others, it was revealed that the festival would feature the reunions of Rabbit in the Moon and Pendulum, along with other headliners such as Afrojack, Avicii, Carl Cox, Die Antwoord, Dubfire, Eric Prydz, Hardwell, Kaskade, Kygo, Miike Snow, Nero, Purity Ring, Tycho, and others. Phase two of the lineup was announced in February 2016, including AlunaGeorge, Andrew Rayel, The Chainsmokers, Crystal Castles, deadmau5, Galantis, Laidback Luke, Marshmello, Richie Hawtin, Sam Feldt, DJ Snake, Steve Angello, and Tchami. General admission tickets sold out on January 21, 2016.
As band member Maxim was unable to attend due to medical issues, The Prodigy cancelled their Saturday night performance. Deadmau5 took their place, alongside his previously-scheduled A State of Trance performance on Sunday. Pendulum formally closed the festival on Sunday night, briefly playing as their offshoot Knife Party, and featuring guest appearances by Tom Morello, and Deadmau5, who joined for a performance of "Ghosts 'n' Stuff"—which features the vocals of the band's singer Rob Swire. The Resistance stage also returned, which featured Arcadia Spectacular's "Spider".
Immediately upon the conclusion of the 2016 edition, it was announced that the 2017 edition would be held from March 24–26. Tickets officially went on sale on October 4, 2016. General admission tickets sold out on January 24, 2017.
Phase 1 of the 2017 lineup was announced on November 17, 2016, listing live headliners including Ice Cube, Justice, Major Lazer, The Prodigy, Underworld, and headlining DJ acts Above & Beyond, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Carl Cox, Dash Berlin, David Guetta, DJ Snake, Dubfire, Hardwell, Jamie Jones, Joseph Capriati, Maceo Plex, Marco Carola, Martin Garrix, Sasha & John Digweed, Steve Aoki, Tale of Us, and Tiesto.
Following the Ultra Music Festival 2017 Phase 1 lineup, the first phase of artists for Resistance was released on December 3, 2017. Artists included the likes of Black Coffee, Chris Liebing, Eats Everything, Kolsch, The Martinez Brothers, Technasia, and many more. It was also announced that Resistance would take over the MegaStructure (formerly known as Carl Cox & Friends) as well as the Arcadia Spectacular 'Spider' Carl Cox was also revealed as the global ambassador of Resistance.
Ultra Music Festival's Phase 2 lineup was unveiled on February 9, 2017, and included the additions of Adventure Club, Alan Walker, Barclay Crenshaw, Cedric Gervais, Don Diablo, Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella, Jai Wolf, Laidback Luke, Rezz, Sam Feldt, Showtek, Slushii, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Tchami, Vini Vici, and many others. Phase 3 and the final schedule were unveiled on March 9, 2017; Armin Van Buuren, The Chainsmokers, and Martin Garrix were respectively scheduled as the Main Stage closing acts on the first, second, and final night.
On day three, closing out Ultra Music Festival 2017 on Main Stage was DJ Snake along with his special guest Future 
Highlights from the 19th edition of Ultra Music Festival included two back-to-back sets on Friday and Saturday from OWSLA and Mad Decent label artists at the UMF Radio Stage, Afrojack bringing Martin Garrix on stage for his extended set at the UMF Radio stage, Sasha & John Digweed's return to Ultra Music Festival in the Resistance MegaStructure for the first time since 2010, & Steve Aoki bringing out former One Direction member Louis Tomlinson to perform "Just Hold On".
In 2017 first edition in Mexico took place in Foro Pegaso located 30min away from Mexico City. The biggest stage of Ultra history took place here with headliners like Dash Berlin, Alesso, Armin van Buuren, Afrojack and Martin Garrix among others.
Phase 1 of the lineup for the 2018 edition (being held March 23–25 as the festival's 20th anniversary) was unveiled December 18, 2017, including Afrojack, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Azealia Banks, The Chainsmokers, David Guetta, DJ Snake, Empire of the Sun, Hardwell, and Steve Aoki among others. This was followed by the unveiling of the lineup for Resistance on January 28, 2018, including Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Dubfire, Nicole Moudaber, as well as Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Seth Troxler and Skream's supergroup J.E.S.u.S. among others.
On February 25, 2018, phase 2 of the lineup was unveiled, including Benny Benassi, Cedric Gervais, DubVision, Fischerspooner, Jauz, Modestep, Oliver Heldens, and others. The full schedule was unveiled on March 15, featuring Dash Berlin, G-Eazy, KSHMR, and others. It was also revealed that both the main and A State of Trance stages would feature unannounced headliners as closing acts on the final night.
The lead-up to the festival was met with rumors surrounding the identities of the unrevealed performers, with Reddit users having presented theories, based on commemorative patches sent to ticketholders, that the closing act would be either Daft Punk or a Swedish House Mafia reunion. In an interview, Hardwell noted that Steve Angello had unexpectedly cancelled tour dates in Asia that coincided with the festival. This, alongside SHM-related signage and imagery appearing in the city The closing act was ultimately Swedish House Mafia, in their first live appearance as a group since 2013. Other notable special guests throughout the festival included K-pop singer and Girls' Generation member Yuri (who performed alongside Raiden), Daddy Yankee, Elvis Crespo and Play-N-Skillz (who joined Steve Aoki on their new song "Azukita", with Daddy Yankee also performing his own "Gasolina"), Example, Adventure Club, and Crankdat (who all joined Jauz on the Main Stage), as well as G-Eazy ("No Limit"), Lil Uzi Vert, Slushii, Yo Gotti ("Rake It Up"), and Will Smith ("Miami") who were all brought on as guests during Marshmello's set.
Security officials stated that the 2018 edition of Ultra was the "safest" in recent years, reporting only 27 arrests in total during the festival (related particularly to narcotics, ticket counterfeiting, and an attendee physically attacking a police officer) and no "major" incidents. However, there was also no rain, just clear blue skies for all 3 days.
|2005||Best Dance Event||International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)|
|2006||Best Dance Event||International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)|
|2008||Best Dance Event||International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)|
|Best International Dance Music Festival||DJ Awards|
|2009||Best Music Event||International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)|
|2010||Best Music Event||International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)|
|2011||Best Music Event||International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)|
|2016||World's Best Festival||DJ Mag|
|2017||World's Best Festival||DJ Mag|
|1999 - 2000||10,000||South Beach, Miami Beach|
|2001||21,000||Bayfront Park, Downtown Miami|
|2006||40,000+||Bicentennial Park, Downtown Miami|
|2012||165,000||Bayfront Park, Downtown Miami|
Attendance figures depict total attendance over the length of the festival.
*2013 Attendance reflects the festival's 15th Anniversary in which Ultra Music Festival was held over two weekends rather than one.
In 2008, Ultra began Ultra Worldwide — starting with Ultra Brasil, which took place in São Paulo, Brasil, now moving to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Since then, Ultra has debuted worldwide festivals in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Ultra Buenos Aires); Santiago, Chile (Ultra Chile); Seoul, Korea (Ultra Korea); Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa (Ultra South Africa); Tokyo, Japan (Ultra Japan); Bali, Indonesia (Ultra Bali); Singapore, Singapore (Ultra Singapore); and Ibiza, Spain (Ultra Ibiza). In July 2013, Ultra Worldwide debuted Ultra Europe, also known as Destination Ultra, which takes place across the span of a week throughout different venues across Croatia.
2012 began the event concept entitled Road to Ultra, which are single-day, single-stage events. Road to Ultra events have taken place in Thailand, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Colombia, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Macau, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. In 2016, Road to Ultra took place in Hong Kong for the first time, at the West Kowloon Cultural District.
During the 2017 edition of Ultra Miami, it was announced that India and Australia will host Road to Ultra events starting in 2017. In India, Road to Ultra: India will take place in New Delhi during September 2017 and Mumbai during February 2018. As for Australia, the Road to Ultra: Australia will take place at Melbourne in February 2018. Also included in the announcement is the debut of Ultra China, a two-day festival taking place at Shanghai, China on September 9–10, 2018. In late May, it was announced that Ultra Mexico would take place in Mexico City at the Foro Pegaso on October 6–7, 2018.
Due to the scarcity and cost of downtown parking, attendees often use public transportation—including the Miami Metrorail, Metromover (which provides free service through Downtown Miami and Brickell), and Metrobus services—to reach Bayfront Park. In 2016, the city began to extend Metrorail and Metromover service to 2:00 a.m. during the festival for the benefit of attendees.
Due to their proximity to Bayfront (with some within walking distance), hotels within the downtown, Brickell, Edgewater, and Omni neighborhoods are frequently booked by attendees. South Beach has also been used as an alternative location by some attendees, but traffic congestion is common in and around Miami during the festival.