Dedicated dance music fans are always traveling around the world chasing after the most epic festival experiences. Beyond the festivals in themselves, these trips also provide a perfect opportunities to explore new destinations!
In the “Electronic Dance Music Festival Travel Guide” series on the blog, we’re visiting electronic music festivals around the world and turning festival trips into an awesome holiday experiences.
We’ve invited Ania from Ania Travels to cover one of the biggest electronic dance music mega festivals in the world, Ultra Music Festival, Miami!
I’ve also been to this festival twice myself. On a personal note, my first ever festival was Ultra Music Festival in 2012. You can say that it launched my dance music travel journey. Not only did I love the breadth of genres in the festival, the rave culture, like Ania I loved the Miami pool parties and of course, the gorgeous beaches and delicious Cuban food!
Ultra holds a special place in many of our hearts. Ania told me that it brought her back so many nice memories writing this piece, and for me it also took me back to where it all began for me!
Tell us about yourself and how you got into electronic dance music.
My name is Ania and I’m a Chicago native with a love for dance music. I’ve always loved music and danced when I was younger so the two combined kind of went hand in hand.
The music scene in Chicago is HUGE and that’s kind of what got me into the EDM festival/concert craze. When I was a teenager I dated a local DJ that would take me out to the shows and concerts he performed at and I would dance the night away.
Then, as I got older and the EDM industry started blowing up I was going to concerts or festivals every weekend to dance. I enjoyed spending time with friends and strangers that then became friends while dancing and listening to great music.
When did you attend Ultra Music Festival and why do you love it?
I attended this festival twice, first time in 2013 and the second in 2015. I loved everything about this festival from the location, to the artists that played, the after parties and pre show parties, to the great memories and the company that I had.
Where is Ultra? What is a good area to stay in and how do you get to the festival?
The festival is in Miami and both times I got lucky(ish) with my accommodations. The first time I went, there was about 10 of us and we stayed in a hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. Cabs were about $80 to get to the festival (which we split between 4 people. There was no Uber back then so it’s probably cheaper now with Uber!). We cabbed it the first day but the second day our friend that lived there drove us.
The second time I went I stayed with a friend in Miami. I highly recommend staying in Ft. Lauderdale though, the hotels are less expensive and if you’re with a group of people a cab ride isn’t that bad when you share. It’s also a great city to explore a bit before/after the festival and you sometimes want to go home somewhere quiet after a night of partying when you know you’re up doing it all over again tomorrow.
Editor’s note: If you want to stay in Miami, I recommend staying on the Downtown Miami side instead of Miami Beach or South Beach. The traffic into Miami can be horrendous from South Beach, so you want to avoid that route! There are many hotels within walking distance to Bayfront Park, where the festival is located.
Please give us your best advice to elevate your festival experience! What should we bring? What should we wear?
Like any festival bring festival related apparel, remember that even though this fest is in March it’s in Miami and it does get HOT.
Bring cute short outfits to keep you cool and remember to always drink tons of water.
Need festival outfit inspiration? Check out this post on Festival Outfit Ideas for the Class, the Trashy, and the Outrageous!
What are some must-see’s, must-do’s, and must-eats in Miami, and how long she we stay?
Miami is such an awesome place whether you’re there for a festival or not. The entire city’s culture is like a festival all year round. I would recommend going there a 2-3 days before the festival or after. There are a ton of great restaurants and bars you can enjoy and the festival festivities continue even before/after, especially during Winter Music Conference (usually the week immediately before UMF).
Check out the pool parties and have some Cuban food. You’ll love it.
- Wynwood Kitchen and Bar. Fun Latin-Inspired restaurant in the Art District. Very eclectic interior with delicious food. It’s great especially for brunch!
- Pubbelly: Awesome Asian-inspired gastropub with delicious food at an affordable price for Miami. They have tons of pork selections and different items to choose from. Great for groups and sharing.
- Puerto Sagua: Miami is strongly influenced by Cuban immigrant communities, so you have to try Cuban food here. This restaurant is an authentic Cuban on Miami Beach.
Things to do
- Water sports on the Beach. You can rent jetskis, kayaks, and even flyboards!
- Cycle down South Beach. Miami has shared Citi Bike rental stations along the beach and you can rent bikes by the hour.
- Walk around the Art District. And check out all the the graffiti artwork!
For those so inclined, it’s easy to continue the party after the festival. It’s highly recommended to book tickets online when trying to party during UMF, if you want to avoid door trouble and long waiting times, every all clubs are for sure packed.
- Story. One of the most well-known and longest-standing clubs in Miami, Story always books the biggest DJs in the scene during Ultra, such as Steve Aoki and Showtek. Dress to the nines, Vegas style, to party at Story.
- Club Space. For those looking for a non-pretentious atmosphere with great vibes, Space is the spot to be. They generally book underground techno/house DJsfor parties that can last well into the afternoon.
Lastly, tell us about one thing that happened at Ultra that made it special for you!
The first year I went there I knew one of the local DJ’s that was playing at the fest and he managed to get me and a few of my friends into VIP. Experiencing VIP at a festival like that with some of your closest friends was one of the best memories ever. Today if I hear some of the songs that were played during that time I still get flashbacks and chills, nearly 5 years later.
Still not set on Ultra? Check out some of my other favorite festivals.