First Timer’s Guide
This guide contains a variety of general information about Ultra Music Festival in Miami and was compiled by the organizers of the event in an effort to, among other things, give you, our first-time attendees, a potential roadmap for your first experience at the event and make this experience as positive and safe as possible.
Over the years, many people have attended the event and have formed opinions about their experiences. It is important to keep in mind that in the 21 years of the festival’s existence, MANY things have changed. From one year to the next, improvements, additions, and changes are made to aspects of the event that can alter an attendee’s experience.
The truth is, the vast majority of people who attend the event report having an amazing time. By the event organizers making available some basic information and helpful tips, you may avoid potential issues and join the nearly 98% of attendees (as of 2018) who say that they would recommend the event to others.
Please take the time to read through this guide carefully to ensure that you get the most out of your time at Ultra Music Festival.
There are two basic types of tickets— GA (General Admission) and VIP tickets. All tickets are for all 3 days of Ultra Music Festival. Single-day event tickets are NOT sold. Tickets will be in the form of RFID wristbands, which cannot be transferred following entry on the first day of the festival. GA tickets are what the vast majority of attendees purchase. Every ticket allows access to every single stage and area of the event other than a few select areas for VIP ticket holders only. VIP tickets are a luxury option with enhanced amenities, such as separate viewing platforms.
Before the Purchase
Ticket sales begin far in advance of the event. Usually, there will be a limited sale of tickets in the late spring/summer followed by a general sale in the fall.
In order to have the option to purchase the lowest-priced tickets available, you must first enroll in Ultra Worldwide’s customer loyalty program, Ultra Passport. You can also enroll by downloading the official Ultra Worldwide app here to get started). The program was developed as a way to reward our most dedicated attendees and provide them with an opportunity to explore our many events across the globe. Once you create (and verify) your Ultra Passport account, you will be able to register for the lowest-cost tickets available for Ultra Music Festival with one easy click. Approximately 24-48 hours before these tickets go on sale, you will receive an email with purchase instructions. Be sure to follow the instructions in the email carefully to avoid unnecessary delays when purchasing your ticket(s).
Ultra Passport holders with Platinum status will have exclusive, priority access to purchase tickets before anyone else. Following the Platinum sale, Ultra Passport holders with Gold status will have the opportunity to purchase tickets before Silver level buyers and the general public. Following the Gold sale, Ultra Passport holders with Silver status will be able to purchase the lowest-cost tickets before the general public. Remember, registration for tickets is required in order to have a chance to purchase the lowest-priced tickets available for the festival. Following the limited sale, tickets will not be offered for a period of time. Ticket sales will resume with the general sale.
In the fall, tickets will become available to the general public. This sale will continue until all tickets for the festival have been sold. The general sale does not require ticket registration, unlike the prior limited sale.
Buying Your Tickets
DO NOT BUY TICKETS FROM ANYWHERE OTHER THAN THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE: UltraMusicFestival.com OR THE ULTRA WORLDWIDE APP. Any time you purchase tickets from a third party (such as a friend, ticket-reselling website, ticket broker, etc.), you risk getting scammed. We do not describe the specific methods scammers use because we do not want to give anyone ideas, but each year we deal with some disappointed fans who did not listen to this warning and are stuck outside the event gates with fake or invalid tickets. Please do not be one of them.
When you click the link to buy tickets from the official website you will be taken to the Ultra Worldwide ticketing platform. From there, it is a simple process to purchase your tickets, but there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Your shipping and billing address must match in order to complete your purchase. This measure is for security purposes. All tickets in your order will be shipped to the billing address provided, and you will NOT be able to change the shipping address after you make your purchase(s).
- At checkout there will be additional charges for taxes, service fees and shipping depending on your location. These charges will be clearly indicated before you confirm your order total.
- If you have any issues during or following completion of your purchase, please fill out this form to contact our Ticketing Department.
After the Purchase
Festival wristbands will be shipped in early March via 2-day shipping. Following retrieval of your package, we recommend activating your festival wristband by linking it to your Ultra Passport account. By activating your festival wristband, you’ll instantly earn 5,000 activation points and your attendance points will be earned as soon as you enter the festival.
How you book your hotel separates the veterans from the first timers. Hotels in the Miami area during Ultra Music Festival and Miami Music Week® can be extremely expensive, and if you do not plan far in advance, you may find yourself with very limited options.
Staying on Miami Beach
As can be expected when choosing a hotel, there are many options. Those who make the festival a weeklong vacation tend to choose a luxury or boutique hotel on South Beach, stay for the entire week, attend Miami Music Week® parties and events during the days and nights leading up to the festival and secure transportation from South Beach to the festival each day and vice versa.
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 unique aspects of Ultra Music Festival is its breathtaking location in the middle of Downtown Miami, meaning the event is within walking distance of dozens of large hotels. The experience of being able to leave the event and be comfortably within your hotel room in as little as 15 minutes in some cases, is extremely convenient. Rooms at such hotels fill up quickly and some of them are quite pricey.
Staying in South Miami or Near Airport
Another practical, more cost-efficient 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/or from the event without the hassle of sitting in Miami traffic.
While we have learned that some attendees elect to use room-sharing services, we do not recommend this type of arrangement. We have received reports over the years of hosts canceling at the last minute in an attempt to re-list the room for more money, leaving attendees with no confirmed accommodations only weeks or days before the event.
If you are looking to save money on your hotel accommodations, the Miami-Dade MetroRail system may be an option. Attendees reportedly saved significant amounts of dollars by staying at a hotel situated near or along the MetroRail line and taking the train to and from the festival each day. You will need to connect at Government Center Station and get on the free MetroMover to Bayfront Park, dropping you off steps away from the event. There are some affordable hotels near Miami International Airport to the North and near the Dadeland/South Miami area to the South that are within walking distance to a MetroRail Station. We actually go to some lengths and expense to ensure that the trains extend their hours so that individuals can get home or to their hotels without the need to drive, take a taxi or other ride service. Many attendees used this method, and it is one of the many unique experiences about the event.
You may also choose to stay further away from the event and drive to and from the event each day. While this is certainly doable, it is not recommended. The traffic leading up to, and during the festival is tremendous with numerous street closures, detours and increased road congestion making car travel difficult. If you do choose to drive, parking is available at a MetroRail station from which taking the train to and from the event is easier. There are also many other paid parking garages, most of which are in Downtown Miami, which will be willing to accommodate you. We do not guarantee parking availability at these garages.
If you are staying on South Beach, one popular option will be to travel by car via the MacArthur Causeway (I-395). This route can become very congested, so be prepared for delays. Do not plan or attempt to walk back from the event to South Beach using this highway. There are no sidewalks on the causeway, and it may be extremely dangerous.
There is usually a water taxi option to travel by boat from South Beach to Bayside, which is next to the event, but such services often have unpredictable schedules and are known to be somewhat hit-or-miss. Do not attempt to travel by your own marine vessel to the event— you will not be able to get anywhere near, or dock at, Bayfront Park.
Ultra Music Festival features a large variety of electronic music performers. These artists are announced in groups called “phases.” “Phase 1” is the first lineup announcement followed by “Phase 2” and usually “Phase 3.” These phases are not to be confused with “Tiers,” which are used to distinguish ticketing options. “Phase” number simply refers to the order in which artists are announced, and has nothing to do with the day that an artist is playing. An exact schedule of performers is announced in advance of the event. We recommend using the Ultra Worldwide app to create your schedule. During the event, you will be notified prior to each scheduled artist’s performance, so you won’t miss a minute of the action.
Every single artist on the lineup will be scheduled to perform, in person, at the event. Usually the performances are DJ sets, where an artist mixes music on turntables for an extended period of time. On the Live Stage (and sometimes other stages), there are performances the event organizers designate as “live” because they involve live instrumentation of some kind, whether it be drums, guitar, live synths, vocals, etc.
The festival’s stages have a variety of names, but they are all located within the confines of the event grounds and are accessible at any time during the event with any ticket you purchase. In particular, the “Ultra Worldwide” stage pays homage to our worldwide events, the “UMF Radio” stage allows the opportunity for highly established labels to showcase their featured talent and the RESISTANCE stages hone in on displaying the world’s top house and techno artists surrounded by immersive, state of the art production.
Other than the artists and performers on our announced lineup, there are often some unannounced special guests that make surprise appearances at the event. These guests will not be advertised in advance, but there will usually be a variety of these appearances during the weekend.
Historically, many artists choose Ultra Music Festival to debut their new music because of the vast international audience viewing and listening at home and due to it being the first major festival of the year. If an artist chooses to play new music instead of the songs you are used to, try to be open-minded as this is a pivotal moment in the evolution of such artists’ career.
One of the biggest mistakes first-time attendees make is neglecting to explore the entire event. Every year, we have thousands of attendees tell us that their favorite performances of the weekend were from artists that they had never even heard of beforehand, and just stumbled upon the stage and performer accidentally. We go to great lengths to make sure that, no matter where you go or when, you will be able to listen to top talent.
View the previous lineups of all Ultra Music Festivals.
The festival is an intense 3-day musical experience, and it will be unlike anything you have experienced before.
Among one of the more important aspects of enjoying and attending the event is taking care of yourself – such as wearing comfortable shoes and clothing, staying hydrated since Miami is hot and humid and making sure to note where medical staff is available in case you or someone you know has a medical issue.
Prior to the event, the official site map will be released. While this resource will point you in the direction of stages and food/drink options, it’s also important to use this site map to take note of where water refill stations, first aid tents and emergency exits are located throughout the venue in case of emergency. For the best user experience while navigating the site map, we recommend using the Ultra Worldwide app.
There are particular measures to attending the event and you should pay close attention because this information may dramatically improve your experience.
- Take note of what items are allowed and are not allowed into the event. For example, we do not allow normal backpacks that are not made of clear material (plastic, PVC, mesh). In advance of the event, we encourage attendees to review our security policies including the prohibited items list, forms of identification requirements and our official clear bag policy.
- The event organizers provide free water available at the festival. The various water refill stations will fill your hydration pack or water bottle (which can be purchased at the event).
- Pace yourself. Many attendees think they will have the energy to dance all day at the event and go to after parties each night. Only a tiny percentage of people do this. Don’t leave yourself too tired to enjoy the event on the second and third days. Respect your body.
- There is no re-entry at the event. If you enter then leave, you will not be able to enter again until the following day.