Ultra Music Festival 2008

The History of Ultra Miami: How the World’s Premier Electronic Music Festival Started

Every year, the dance music world turns its full attention on Bayfront Park in Miami, FL as Ultra Music Festival descends upon the city and one of the world’s premier music events entertains thousands of fans on site and millions more via their live stream.  Of course, that stature and reverence were earned through years of hard work, fine-tuning, and excellent artist relationships that ensured the best talent of the day would be on display.

The inaugural Ultra Music Festival occurred back on March 13, 1999, a single-day event that was located in Collins Park in Miami Beach.  It was put together by business partners Russell Faibisch, Ray Navarro, and Alex Omes, who booked Paul van Dyk, Rabbit in the Moon, Josh Wink, and DJ Baby Anne for the estimated 10,000 attendees that day.  Despite an estimated financial loss of $10,000-20,000 amongst the organizers, the event returned in 2000 for a second edition at the Collins Park location.  The event continued to grow in size and was moved to Bayfront Park for the 2001 edition, which featured acts like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Ferry Corsten, and more, as they represented the annual event through to the 2005 festival.

2005 would become a historic year for Ultra Miami, as organizers teamed up with Carl Cox to curate the Carl Cox and Friends Arena, a staple of the event ever since.  As the attendance figures continued to grow, the 2006 edition would again be relocated, this time moved to Bicentennial Park, and saw over 50,000 attendees the following year as the event switched to a two-day format.  The continued success saw event organizers look to expand the entertainment from the stage, and more crossover bands and acts were booked for 2009, which saw the Black Eyed Peas, Perry Farrell, The Prodigy, The Ting Tings, and Santigold included in the line-up.  2011 was once again a milestone for Ultra Music Festival, as it sold out for the first time while expanding to the 3-day format which it currently operates under.

With construction occurring at Bicentennial Park in 2012, the event returned to Bayfront Park for the first time since 2005 and promptly sold out during the pre-sale.  This would also mark the first year that Ultra Miami would deliver their now iconic live stream, ensuring that fans around the world would be able to tune into the festival.  With the continued growth and popularity of the event, 2013 would be held over two weekends for the first and only time in the event’s history and would coincide with what was then the final performance by the Swedish House Mafia.

Since then, the festival has endured several complaints from city officials and residents over noise complaints and substance abuse from attendees.  These concerns lead to the event moving to Virginia Key Beach Park in 2019, but after the first night of the event, it was clear that travel accommodations and other factors were less than ideal and the festival was given permission to return to Bayfront Park for 2020.  While anticipation was high for the event’s return to Bayfront Park, the Covid-19 pandemic would force the cancellation of the event in both 2020 and 2021.  Fortunately, the event was able to take place once again in 2022, with the return of Hardwell from a self-imposed hiatus marking the highlight of an incredible weekend of music.

With the event less than two weeks away, and tickets 95% sold out, now is the time to make plans to head down to south Florida for one of the world’s premier music events, Ultra Miami.


Image Credit: Rukes.com

Avid music fan, and avid music producer! Producer and songwriter for NOHC.

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