Ultra Miami Guide for first timers: Everything you need to know
With Ultra Music Festival approaching fast around the corner later this month, now is the time to begin to prepare for what will be one unforgettable weekend in Miami. While numerous attendees will be celebrating their return to the iconic festival, including myself, there will also be just as many that will enter the gates of Ultra for the first time in their lives. In this article, we will list some of the things that I believe are essential to make sure your first Ultra experience is the best weekend of your life.
Water, Water, Water
While there are many methods and things to ensure that you have an amazing time at the festival, don’t let anybody tell you that this is not the most crucial. I can’t stress enough to new Ultra goers the importance of making sure you are always hydrated. Ultra is not like other festivals. Not only is it in Miami, where temperatures can get very hot, but the humidity will play a huge factor. You will sweat (a lot) and release a fair amount of energy, so it is easy to get dehydrated quickly. Water will be the one thing that keeps you going throughout the entire three-day event. With it, you will be able to power through just about anything else, but without it, you are going to have an incredibly tough time. One trick I use every year is to get there early and make sure you drink through 4 liters of water (two complete fill-ups on your hydration pack) before sunset, and then one more 2 liter fill up for the nightcap. That should get you through the day. This has never failed me in all my years of festival going. And I will be using this technique again at the end of the month in Miami. If you are worried about your hydration pack not matching your outfit, vibedration.com has so many cool options!
Arrive early on Friday but come whenever on Saturday and Sunday.
Now obviously, come as early as you want all three days depending on who you want to see. However, heed this advice as it will save you from major disappointment. Make sure you show up an hour or two early (maybe more if you want to see the acts right as gates open) before the festival starts on Friday. The first day of the festival always attracts the biggest crowd. The lines will take forever to get through, and you do not want to be the person that shows up right at 4 pm or even 5 pm and doesn’t get in until 2 hours later or more. Not only will you be frustrated with the waiting, but you will for sure miss some big-name acts. However, Saturday and Sunday are way easier to get into at multiple times in the day. Since the festival begins earlier on those two days, attendees will be coming in waves throughout the day, and the majority of them mostly come around 6 pm. If you show up between 1 pm and 5 pm, you should get in, in less than 20 minutes.
Always be aware of your surroundings in the crowd.
Unfortunately, this is a topic we have to discuss. While over 95% of attendees you meet at Ultra will be friendly, there will be some that come and try to ruin the fun. Pickpocketing is a real thing, and I have seen multiple incidents of it with my own eyes. Never put anything in your back pockets, and even if it doesn’t look cool, I advise getting a fanny pack. You much rather wear an unstylish fanny pack and keep all your belongings safe than try to be “too cool” and have your phone stolen. It is not fun. There is an option though. Lunchbox has created a new all-in-one hydration pack that allows you to keep your belongings safe in the compartments in the backpack area. It is a product I personally use and wouldn’t know how to live without.
The other issue you need to be aware of is having an eye on your drink at all times if it is an open-container cup. Meaning, if it does not have a lid. While most people are trustworthy at Ultra, not everybody is, and the safer you can be, the better. You deserve to have the best experience of your life, and the more vigilant you can be will go a long way.
Never distance yourself from your group. But if you happen to get lost, have a meetup spot.
I’m going to go ahead and tell you right now. It is RARE to have good cell reception inside of Ultra. If you do, consider yourself one of the very few lucky ones. But for most, texting and calling will not work. Meaning that if you get lost from your group, and you don’t have a meetup spot, it could take all day to find them. The biggest advice is to make sure you are always with your group, but sometimes stuff happens while you’re trying to make way through a crowd of 50,000, and you lose sight of the people you came with. For this reason, make sure that before you enter Ultra, you and your group have a designated meeting spot. Something very noticeable or somewhere up at the front are the best options. Make sure that everybody agrees that once a person gets lost, everybody immediately goes there and waits. The safety of every person in the group is more important than the festival. I have seen some groups try to use walkie-talkies, but that is up to you.
Bring an external battery
I’m sure most people are already planning on bringing one. However, it’s good to go ahead and reiterate this. Through the course of the day, you will definitely run through your phone battery for whatever reasons. You do not want to be stranded with no communication device, unable to get a ride, or find your way back to where you are staying at the end of the night because it is dead. I would suggest no less than 10,000 Mah.
Bring comfortable shoes.
This advice is almost as essential as water. You will not make it through the weekend without a set of comfortable shoes. Remember, Ultra goes all day long for almost 12 hours each day. You will be spending a lot of time on your feet and walking around. The fun will be ruined if you get blisters or don’t have the proper support on your feet. You want to stay as light as possible, so the best option is any type of tennis shoes that feel best for you. The other thing you need to be prepared for is knowing that your feet will hurt on the last day, but that is okay because so is everybody else’s. If you continue to have fun, your brain will completely forget it. But with the proper shoe, that aching will be much less.
Have fun creating your outfit but don’t compromise your comfortability.
This can be linked back to getting comfortable shoes as well. It is no question that one of the coolest parts about any dance event, especially Ultra, is all the unique outfits! However, make sure you are cognizant of the weather and the conditions of the environment where you will be at. Don’t wear something that is going to cause you to overheat due to the Florida heat, or don’t wear anything that is going to be uncomfortable on your feet. The outfit is only fun if you are having fun!
Many will refuse this option, but it is better to be safe than sorry. While there is shade at Bayfront Park, there is not a lot. You do not want to be dealing with a nasty sunburn for two more days of a festival as the sun continues to beat down on it. It will be painful and also hinder your ability to move. Make sure you reapply a couple of times throughout the day, and you will have no issues. You have nothing to lose if you put sunscreen on so why not! However, Ultra is strict about the sunscreen containers you can bring in. So make sure to check their site because they will make you throw it away. It happened to me.
It might sound lame but trust me. When you hear the power that mainstage possesses, you will be glad you brought these. There have been too many people that have lost part of their hearing because they didn’t wear earplugs. Don’t be that person because you can’t get that hearing back. When I first started attending shows, my main worry was if the earplugs would hinder the quality of the music. I’m here to tell you it does not if you buy the right ones. There are so many options out there to choose from but make sure you are getting high-fidelity earplugs. Eargasm and Decibullz are currently the two brands that I use, and they are amazing. They only reduce the sound of the music but not the overall quality, so you still get that great mix. When you walk out of the festival after each night, you will be thanking yourself that your ears aren’t ringing for hours after.
Make sure to have a strategic exit plan to get back to where you are staying.
Sadly, I have made the mistake of not having this too many times. It is no fun wandering around Miami at 3 am and having no idea when you will get back to a bed. Ultra does not have shuttles since it is downtown, but the hotel you are staying at just might, as this is common. If that is not an option and you want to take rideshares remember the surge charging. There will be thousands trying to request a ride, and prices will be expensive. The best options are to: find a place to eat for a few hours and wait or book your rideshares now, so you lock in the price. Another cost-efficient option is the Miami Metrorail and Metromover. Not only do these go around the city but they don’t deal with traffic.
The phrase to sum up Ultra is, “it’s a marathon not a sprint.” Make sure you don’t use up all your energy in the first few hours of each day or waste all of it on Friday. It is easy to get burnt out due to the amount of energy that is being released from your body. You want to be able to go hard for the entire fest and have as much fun at the end as you did in the beginning. Sleep plays a very big part in this too. If you feel that you need more hours of sleep on day two or three, don’t feel bad, you will be happy you got the rest.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere at Ultra, especially with all the surprises they present. Some of electronic music’s most iconic moments have happened within Bayfront Park, and to be able to witness those live is incredibly special. This festival will allow you to see so many artists in one area that you might never get to. The people at Ultra are some of the nicest I’ve ever met, and the venue is beautiful. Don’t forget that you are there to have the time of your life and make unforgettable memories!
With this advice, your first Ultra experience will be one you talk about for ages to come. This is one of the greatest festivals on the face of this earth. I absolutely can’t wait to see all the amazing people in Bayfront later this month, and I am so excited to finally be back! Everyone have the best time at Ultra!
Image Credit: Ms Moonlight Arts