Ultra Music Festival
|Ultra Music Festival|
Ultra Music Festival 2016 Mainstage
|Genre||Electronic music festival|
|Location(s)||Miami, Florida, United States (main location)|
|Years active||1999–present (Miami)
2008–present (São Paulo)
2012–present (Buenos Aires)
2014–present (Johannesburg/Cape Town)
2015-present (Santa Cruz)
|Inaugurated||March 13, 1999|
|Most recent||March 18–20, 2016|
|Organized by||Ultra Enterprises, Inc.|
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 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 four minutes. The most recent edition of Ultra, in 2016, 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 Mainstage, the Live Stage, the MegaStructure, the Worldwide Stage, the UMF Radio Stage, the Resistance Stage, and Stage 7. 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 Ibiza, Spain; Seoul, Korea; Tokyo, Japan; Hvar and Split, Croatia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and many more.
The Beach (1999-2000)
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. Inaugural 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 in 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.
Although, in March 2000 the festival returned to South Beach's Collins Park as a one-day event and was met with even more success. The festival was immediately renewed for a third year.
Because of 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, P.A.W.N. LASERS, 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 create 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, another record at the time for Ultra. The festival celebrated its 10th anniversary during 28–29 March 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, 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 27–28 March 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 26–27 March 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 across the weekend of 25–27 March 2011. Also at Ultra's 2011 festival, 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 23–25 March 2012. Due to the construction of the Miami Art Museum and Miami Science 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 more. 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 first 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, 15–17 March 2013, and 22–24 March 2013. Phase one of the festival 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 weekend two to serve as the finale of their official farewell tour, "One Last Tour". Other artists on Ultra's 2013 bill included Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Richie Hawtin, Boys Noize, Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Alesso, Dog Blood, Luciano, Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, Martin Solveig, Zedd, and many more.
On 7 January 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 10 January 2013, charging the organizers for police and fire services.
The sold out fifteenth anniversary of Ultra Music Festival welcomed 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 28–30 March 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, a side project with Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten, 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, Armin van Buuren and Benno de Goeji's world debut of Gaia in the A State of Trance Arena, and deadmau5 "trolling" the audience during his set with a remix of Martin Garrix's "Animals" set to the classic children's song "Old McDonald Had a Farm".
On the opening of the festival Friday, a security guard was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage and left in "extremely critical" condition after being trampled by a crowd of people attempting to gate crash the festival by breaking down a chain-link fence.
After the unfortunate gatecrashing incident in 2014, some uncertainties arose as to whether Ultra Music Festival would take place in 2015. However, organizers announced that the 2015 edition of Ultra would take place during 27–29 March 2016. 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."
A meeting took place on 24 April 2014 when Miami commissioners voted 4 to 1 against banning the festival, allowing Ultra to remain in downtown Miami for 2015. However, the approval was made on the condition that organizers introduce facilities and policies for addressing security, drug usage and lewd behavior by attendees. On 2 September 2014, it was announced that as of 2015, Ultra Music Festival would no longer admit minors. Security head Raymond Martinez explained that the decision was made primarily to improve the overall safety and experience of attendees.
On 12 January 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 seventeenth edition of Ultra Music Festival welcomed the likes of Tiesto, Avicii, Dash Berlin, former Swedish House Mafia members Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello, Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Eric Prydz, Andrew Bayer, Marc Kinchen (MK), Hot Since 82, Dirty South, Zeds Dead, Galantis, Tchami, Andy C, Wiwek, and more. The 2015 edition was closed by Skrillex, later joined by Diplo as Jack Ü. The final segment of the set featured live appearances by multiple guest vocalists, including CL, Kiesza, Sean Combs, and Justin Bieber. Video game streaming website Twitch took over as the host of the festival's official webcast in 2015. Ultra Music Festival 2015 also debuted the "Resistance" stage designed by the British collective, Arcadia Spectacular. The stage was also called the "Afterburner" and featured deep house, progressive house, techno, and tech house artists like Tale of Us, Dixon, tINI, Get Real (Claude Vonstroke and Green Velvet's latest project), Maceo Plex, Apollonia, Pete Tong, Guy Gerber and many more.
The 2016 edition of Ultra Music Festival took place during 18–20 March 2016 at Miami's Bayfront Park. Phase one of the 2016 lineup was announced on 16 December 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 Eric Prydz, Purity Ring, Tycho, and The Prodigy. Phase two of the lineup was announced a few months later and included Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Avicii, Carl Cox, Nicole Moudaber, Dash Berlin, David Guetta, deadmau5, Mind Against, Hardwell, Kaskade, Martin Garrix, Dubfire, DJ Snake, Steve Angello, Tiësto, Zedd, and many more. General admission tickets for the eighteenth edition officially sold out on 21 January 2016. The Resistance stage also returned, which featured Arcadia Spectacular's "Spider".
As band member Maxim was unable to attend due to medical issues, The Prodigy cancelled their Saturday night performance. Deadmau5 took their place, giving him a second performance alongside his previously scheduled Sunday appearance as part of A State of Trance arena. Knife Party and Pendulum closed the festival on the final day with a guest appearance by Tom Morello, and an additional appearance by deadmau5 where they performed his song "Ghosts 'n' Stuff".
Notable performances from Ultra Music Festival 2016 were from deadmau5 and Eric Prydz in the A State of Trance Arena, Pendulum's closing set on the mainstage with deadmau5, and the OWSLA All Stars set at the UMF Radio Stage. Following the festival, for the first time, Ultra Music Festival was voted the "World's Best Festival" according to DJ Mag's 2016 survey.
Immediately upon the conclusion of the 2016 edition, it was announced that the nineteenth edition of Ultra Music Festival would be held during 24–26 March 2017.
Following his three appearances at Ultra Music Festival, Ultra and mau5trap announced the Ultra Worldwide Tour with deadmau5. The tour stopped at Ultra Korea, Ultra Europe, Ultra Singapore, Road to Ultra: Taiwan, and Ultra Japan.
Awards & Recognitions
|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|
|1999 - 2000||10,000||South Beach, Miami Beach|
|2001||21,000||Bayfront Park, Downtown Miami|
|2006||30,385||Museum 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 15th Anniversary in which Ultra Music Festival was held over two weekends rather than one.
In 2008, Ultra began Ultra Worldwide — announcing Ultra Brasil, which took place in São Paulo, Brasil, now moving to Rio de Janeiro this year. 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 also debuted Ultra Europe, also known as Croatia Music Week, 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.
Transportation and hotels
Ultra Music Festival attracts thousands of visitors from throughout the world. Most visitors stay at hotels within the neighborhoods of Downtown Miami or Brickell. This is by far the most convenient option for attending Ultra. Other popular neighborhoods include—the Omni and Edgewater, which are both convenient options as well, they are also walking distance from Bayfront Park. Some visitors get hotel accommodations in South Beach. However, reaching South Beach from Ultra Music Festival can be problematic due to traffic, congestion, and expensive transportation options, making it a less popular option. Metrobus routes S, C and 120 connect Ultra directly to South Beach.
Festival attendees are encouraged not to drive to the festival, as parking is scarce and can be very costly. Instead, most visitors take the Miami Metrorail or Metrobus. The nearest Metrorail station is Government Center. Additionally, the free Metromover provides transportation throughout Downtown Miami and Brickell. As of 2016, train and bus service has been extended until 2:00 AM during Ultra Music Festival.
- List of electronic music festivals
- Ultra Europe
- Ultra Buenos Aires
- Ultra Chile
- Ultra Brasil
- Road to Ultra
- Ultra Korea
- Ultra Japan
- Ultra Bali
- Ultra Singapore
- Ultra South Africa
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