So, you’re going to Ultra Music Festival 2019 in Miami. Lucky you – but be warned. Whether you’re a seasoned UMF pro or a first-time Ultramaniac, you’re about to take part in an experience no one has ever known. For the first time ever, the 21-year-old festival moves from downtown Miami to Virginia Key, and there are a lot of questions that come with that.
You heard you can’t park on-site, so how do you get there? What can you expect once you’re inside festival grounds? Where the heck should you stay at night? We at Billboard Dance have scoured the resources and asked the important questions, and we’ve crafted this handy how-to guide for the best Ultra 2019 experience possible. Stay tuned as we update with more up-to-the-minute information, and most importantly: stay hydrated and have fun.
Virginia Key is about a 15-minute drive south of Ultra’s old home at Bayfront Park. It is a true island, and there is only one highway connecting the Key to the mainland. Ultra typically sees more than 50,000 visitors a day. In order to mitigate traffic and harmful emisions, Ultra has stated very clearly that parking will not be available to patrons of the festival in any way on the island. Instead, free shuttle services will be offered to all ticket holders with wristbands at three strategic locations as seen below, with specific directions available online:
- Arts & Entertainment District (serving Downtown, Wynwood, Midtown and all areas North of the Greater Miami Area)
- AmericanAirlines Arena (serving Downtown Miami and Brickell)
- Vizcaya (serving Brickell, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and all areas South of the Greater Miami Area)
Shuttles begin at noon on Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Keep in mind that the festival gates open at 2 p.m. each day, though you may wish to start traveling earlier to account for traffic. If you’re willing to shell out an extra $149.99, you can take a scenic ferry ride over Biscayne Bay and arrive to UMF in 30 minutes. The departure point is Bayside Marketplace, where some parking will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If you’d like to use a rideshare app like Lyft or Uber, simply enter the destination “Ultra Music Festival.” At the on-island drop-off location, you’ll be moved toward the festival entrance. Ultra recommends that you leave the festival on one of its free shuttles and request a ride back to your hotel, house or car at those less chaotic drop-off hubs. There will be dedicated ride share pick-up and drop-off points at each shuttle hub.
No matter the method, carpooling is strongly recommended.
Now that you’re on the island, your non-transferable wristband is your ticket to entry. Attendees at the 18-and-up event must show ID in the form of a state or drivers’ license, military ID or passport, scan the wristband at the entrance, and be prepared for a thorough search. Obvious items like drugs and weapons are not allowed (any prescription drugs must be accompanied by the prescription), but neither are markers nor pens, stuffed animals nor facemasks.
Ravers, leave the glow sticks, pacifiers and totems at home. All cigarettes and tampons must be closed. Don’t bring flash cameras or selfie sticks, and while fanny packs are okay, definitely don’t bring a backpack or purse unless it’s made of clear plastic, PVC or mesh. Your bag may not exceed 13”x17”, and while there will be free water on the premisis, regular water bottles and flasks won’t cut it. You must bring an empty hydration pack – and that can’t be a backpack, either. Check the full list of welcomed and prohibited items online.
Exploring the Festival Grounds
The festival grounds encompass two areas on the island, the beloved Miami Marine Stadium and Virginia Key Beach Park. Ultra’s new home is a sensitive and important ecosystem, so Ultra has taken some measures to ensure the area’s health and safety. The festival has reduced single-use plastics with the goal of eventual elimination. There will not be beach access to patrons, so don’t expect to get in the water. There will be no styrofoam or plastic straws, and you will be expected to properly recycle your waste.
When it comes time to party, you’ll have plenty of options. There are eight stages at this year’s Ultra, divided into the site’s two sections. The Miami Marine Stadium and surrounding area will be home to the Main Stage, the Live Arena, Ultra Worldwide and Ultra Radio. Check the full day schedules to see specific set times and stage programming.
The RESISTANCE programming, featuring headline performances from Carl Cox to Adam Beyer b2b Cirez D, gets its own special area away from the main and bass stages. The famous Carl Cox Megastructure has moved there, and it will be joined by a second stage called Reflector featuring performances by Black Coffee and a big three-way back-to-back between Nicole Moudaber, Dubfire and Paco Osana. A third stage called Arrival is run by Burning Man’s PLAYGROUND sound camp, while the Oasis gives people a fourth musical destination.
Wherever you party, Table service is offered for VIP ticket holders, courtesy of brand sponsors Tao, Lavo and Marquee.
Once again, Ultra highly recommends taking the free shuttle service off the island. If you don’t mind missing a headliner, try leaving a little bit ahead of the crowd. Consider that you will be trying to leave at the same time as tens of thousands of festival goers. Be patient and kind with drivers and your fellow attendees. If you choose to take the shuttles, there will be dedicated spots for rideshare pickup at each hub.
Where to Stay
Virginia Key is south of Ultra’s old downtown Miami home. Miami Beach is a popular place to stay, but it’s quite far from the final destination, and as it is an island itself, traffic getting on and off the island each day and night will be frustrating. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of satelite parties happening all week, adding to the busy atmosphere, and rideshare apps will incur surge charges.
Downtown Miami and Brickell are mainland options very close to the free shuttle hubs provided. There are many hotels in the area, and it is flush with Airbnbs. Just north of Miami in the areas known as Edgewater, Midtown and the Upper East Side are also many options. Wynwood and the Design District are options, but there are not many hotels. You may also choose to stay south of the festival in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables or other south Miami neighborhoods. All of these areas are serviced with dedicated shuttle hubs. Check Ultra’s website for a list of trusted hotel options.
Ultra Music Festival debuts on Virginia Key in Miami Friday to Sunday, March 29 to 31. General admission and VIP tickets are on sale now.