Rookie’s Guide to Ultra Music Festival

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Ultra Music Festival in Miami will be here before you know it, so it’s best to start getting prepared now. We put together a guide that should answer most of your questions.

Ultra Music Festival Packing List

Coming prepared is the first step to having a memorable experience while you’re down in Miami. We put together a huge list of music festival essentials, but that included a number of items you won’t need for Ultra (tents and other festival camping equipment).

Remember, always check Ultra’s website and social media accounts for more information and a full list of what is and isn’t allowed at this year’s festival.

Since you’ll have a hotel room and will have access to all of the essentials, here’s what we’re bringing into Ultra this year:

  • Proper identification – Don’t show up without your ID. You can see a list of acceptable forms of identification here.
  • Hydration pack – Hydration packs are an absolute must for any music festival…especially when you’re in Miami. I went to my first music festival without one and I’d never make that mistake again. Like most festivals, Ultra has a number of water fill-up stations that you’ll be able to use throughout the weekend. This is the Camelbak I took to Ultra last year. I highly recommend it.
  • Portable phone charger – Chances are, with all of the pictures and videos you’ll want to take your phone isn’t going to last all day. Ultra provides cell phone charging stations, but those can be inconvenient. Bring portable charger with you so that you can have your phone charging while you’re in the festival…without having to leave music to go to one of their packed stations.
  • Phone case – Bring a phone case. Things are going to get crazy and you don’t want to risk dropping your phone when someone bumps into you or you freak out because your favorite song comes on. You can find LifeProof (RaveProof) cases here.
  • Earplugs – Music at Ultra is LOUD. Bring some headphones for you and your group to keep your ears from ringing for days after the festival ends. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to hear the music just fine. These earplugs will work.
  • Gallon-sized Ziploc bags – You’ll want these to store your stuff in in case it rains. The weather in Miami can change quickly, and if it rains hard your stuff will get soaked even if it’s in your bag. Ziploc bags will keep your phone and wallet from getting ruined.
  • Sunscreen – Don’t be dumb – you’re going to be out in the Miami sun all day. Getting burned the first day makes for a less enjoyable rest of the weekend.
  • Sunglasses – Don’t bring your expensive glasses. Many pairs have been lost in our group. Get a cheap pair that will last for the weekend that have UV protection and bring those.
  • Hat– Hats will also keep you from frying in the hot sun. A lot of people in Miami (guys and girls) will be rocking snapbacks. Click here for regular snapbacks. Click here for rave-themed snapbacks.
  • Diffraction glasses – They’re cheap and can make the lights look even more amazing than they are. Ultra always does an awesome job with the stages, and seeing them with glasses is well worth the money. Get a few pairs to share with your group – people will definitely be asking to try them on!
  • Ponchos – Sounds ridiculous, but ponchos are cheap, easy to store in your bag, and will keep you dry if the weather gets rough. It rained the first day of our first Ultra and we didn’t have ponchos with us. Everything in my pockets was absolutely soaked including my wallet and phone – not fun at all. These ponchos will do the trick.
  • Fanny pack – If you’ve read any of our other music festival guides you’ve probably heard me say that I’m rarely ever team Fanny Pack. While I’ve never worn once to a festival, they’re acceptable here (and probably only here). They’re very functional and make carrying your things around easy. You may not have pockets and will need a place to stash your stuff. Plus, they have sweet ones like this neon green D.A.R.E. fanny pack.
  • LED Lights – Lights and glow sticks aren’t just made to wear as bracelets and necklaces. If you’ve got an inflatable that you’re bringing, wrapping it in lights is an awesome way to stand out and be easily spotted in the crowd. Other than that it just looks cool. You’ll want to get what’s called an El Wire. It’s wire that lights up and is attached to a battery pack. It’s easy to tape to whatever you’re carrying around and is easy to operate. Plus they typically come with a ton of flashing patterns and colors. You can find one here.
  • Cash – Cards aren’t typically accepted inside the festival grounds. There will be ATMs that you can use, but why spend the extra money for withdrawal fees? Plus, ATM lines can get pretty long. Bring in enough money to cover you each day.

Ultra Outfit Ideas

Outfits at EDM music festivals can get pretty crazy. We put together guides for both girls and guys that will help you get ready for Ultra. The guide for guys is here and guide for girls is here.

Remember that Ultra is held in March in Miami – it’s going to get hot. I wouldn’t recommend a lot of heavy clothing or headwear (though regular hats and snapbacks are recommended).

Random Information About Ultra

Getting tickets – Tickets are on sale at different points throughout the year. They offer early bird tickets that are on sale around May. Tickets are unavailable for a few months and then go back on sale around September. In order to buy tickets early you need to register on their website. Tickets ship at the beginning of March and come with a lanyard you can use, they don’t use bracelets like some of the other festivals.

They also offer payment plans if you’re more interested in paying on a monthly basis instead of all at once.

Headliners – Headliners are announced in multiple phases with the first phase typically coming in December and the second phase coming in February. While most of the big names are announced in phase 1, they do usually add some quality acts in phase 2.

Bathrooms – The bathroom situation can definitely make or break a festival experience. Ultra has continued to step up it’s game over the past few years with the bathroom situation this past year being the best that I’ve seen. There are a ton of porta potties that seem to be cleaned throughout the weekend because they were fairly clean. There are also regular bathrooms located around the festival grounds.

Water stations – Ultra provides free water at multiple water stations throughout the grounds. Last year things got off to a slow start and water took forever to get, but that was because of a pipe that had busted. Somehow it got fixed after the first few hours and things were moving quickly. Usually you won’t wait in line for more than a few minutes.

Food and beverages – The food inside is actually pretty good. They have a ton of food trucks and places for you to get everything from (huge) turkey legs to nachos. If you want to save money and eat before you go there’s a Whole Foods with a hot bar nearby that we typically eat at before heading to the festival each day.

Totems – Ultra doesn’t allow totems, so you’ll have to leave yours at home. If you want something that will help your group find you, we’ve got some ideas for you in our music festival pro tips article.

Stages – Be sure to venture out and don’t just camp at the main stage all weekend. The smaller stages are really well put together and have quality DJs performing.

If you start to get tired and want to give your legs a break, head over to the Live Stage. They have stadium seating and a grassy field that you can lay out in. Both are great ways to get off of your feet without having to miss any of the action. Some of the best performances (like Kygo and Porter Robinson) are done on the Live Stage.

Booking Hotels for Ultra

There are a ton of places that you can stay within walking distance of the festival. Ultra has a ton of deals worked out with hotels that you can see information on here.

Regardless of where you stay – book early. Hotels fill up months before the festival and can get really expensive.

There is a monorail that can help you travel around downtown Miami if your hotel is a little far to walk.

Miami Music Week

Ultra is a huge part of Miami Music Week. Miami Music Week is a week filled with events and DJs performing at different clubs, beaches, and other venues around the city.

There are a number of reasons why Miami Music Week is amazing.

The first is that if you can’t attend Ultra for one reason or another, you still get the chance to see a ton of awesome DJs perform. Often times DJs that perform at Ultra will also play at another venue during the week. If you can’t see them at Ultra, there’s still a chance to see them while you’re in town.

Even if you are attending Ultra, the incredible lineups each year at Miami Music Week will give you something to do during the week before Ultra starts on Friday, or give you something to do if you still have energy after Ultra ends each night.

Last year we saw Above & Beyond and Audien the day before Ultra started. It was the perfect way to get our festival started off right.

We Can’t Wait to See You There!

We hope you have an awesome time. We’re excited to see you all out there. Be safe and get ready for a wild weekend!