Milestones are reflective moments, and after 20 years of historic sets, surprise guests and forward-thinking design, Ultra Music Festival's 20th flagship event couldn't help but look back at its greatest moments for inspiration. The three-day celebration ran like a highlight reel of stalwart stars and hometown heroism, but for all its talk about “expect the unexpected,” this year's Ultra often felt delightfully familiar.
Right from the start of Miami Music Week, the shadow of the past crept across Ultra's face. The kick-off press conference announced the festival had officially acquired Winter Music Conference, the 33-year-old industry gathering that had once been the impetus for the festival's own birth. It's because of WMC's initial success that Ultra founders were able to tap international dance talent and fans for its inaugural year in 1999, and as focus on its panels and showcases faded behind the brightness of surrounding parties and events, Ultra saw an opportunity for reinvention.
WMC is now a three-day conference held the days leading up to UMF's opening bell. The concentration of the effort and its association with Ultra -- presumably its speaker and panelist pool will overlap with UMF's lineup -- should lead to a higher participation rate and regeneration of WMC's industry importance. It's wild that the once-new kid on the block now bought the old boss, but it just goes to show how far Ultra has come in its two decades.