ULTRA
Photo courtesy of datilly.com

Festival season is finally here and Florida starts it off with ULTRA Music Festival and Miami Music Week. Miami will be bombarded with famous electronic musicians and people from all over the world.

If this is your first time to the event, there are some things you should know. While everyone knows the basics, like drinking water and taking a break when needed, I’ve assembled some guidelines that will make your ULTRA weekend run smoothly.

1) Get to the festival EARLY

Hate lines? Don’t we all? Music festivals are notorious for its long lines and one thing is for sure with ULTRA: the earlier you get there, the shorter the line you’ll wait in. While you might want to save your energy for later, showing up early has its benefits. Last year, Digitalism went on at 4 p.m., as soon as the festival began, and that set ended up being in my top five for the weekend. The metro gets slammed later in the day, leaving you to deal with chaos. If you plan accordingly, you’ll arrive early enough to not have to deal with flooded metro stations or extraneous lines. Take note: Traffic is always horrible in Miami, but this weekend, it’s even worse. If you plan on driving anywhere in downtown or on the beach during these two weekends, plan for traffic.

2) Grab a schedule and guard it with your life

This should be one of the first things you do as you walk into the festival. Having one is convenient and it will make your life a lot easier, especially if you’re interested in bouncing around to different stages. By Sunday, if you’re lucky enough to still have one, your schedule may be ripped and ragged, but, if you make sure to keep your schedule safe, you might end up as the VIP of your group — the only one who knows what musician is going on when and where.

3) Explore the festival

Festivals are the perfect place to discover new music. There is so much going on all of the time that it’s hard to decide what to do at some points. I’ve found that the best way to deal with this is to jump around to see different crowds and different music. This is hard to do with a group, and sometimes is exhausting, but sometimes worth it. You may just find yourself in love with a new musician or just met your new best friend because you decided to not stick in one area. You should check out all of the different arenas, but make sure to stop by the Carl Cox & Friends Arena and the A State Of Trance Arena. For any first-timer at ULTRA, these are trademark tents and you’ll be disappointed if you don’t at least check them out.

4) Have a meeting spot

There’s no reception, calls and texts aren’t going through, and your group is nowhere in sight. Don’t panic! It’s inevitable that you will probably get separated from your friends at some point and freaking out will only make it worse. At the beginning of the festival, assign a meeting spot in general areas, and if you get lost, go to that spot. Your friends will realize that you’re missing and do the same. You’re there to have a good time, so make the best out of any situation you find yourself in.

5) Save enough energy for the after parties, they’re worth it

No matter where you end up after ULTRA, the after parties that go well into the night are where you want to be. ULTRA has a sort of ripple effect. While the lineup is full of top-of-the-line musicians, the event draws both big and small artists from around the world that are not playing at the festival. For those not going to UMF, these parties are your chance to see international music without having to pay the ticket price of Ultra.

Here are a few parties outside of ULTRA that I highly recommend:

Weekend 1

1. March 15: Turbo Hippie Dance Miami @ The Electric Pickle featuring Tiga, Pachanga Boys, Daniel Maloso and Thomas Von Party ($20 plus fees, 21+)

2. March 15: Big Gigantic, GRiZ and Herobust @ Grand Central ($25 plus fees, 18+)

3. March 17: Recs Showcase @ Bardot featuring Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, xxyyxx, Lazaro Casanova, Pirate Stereo and Will Buck ($27 plus fees, 21+)

Weekend 2

1. March 22: HARD Miami Pool Party @ The Raleigh Hotel featuring Felix Da Housecat, Baauer, Skreamizm, Clockwork, Just Blaze, Alex Metric, Destructo, Surkin, Oliver, Para One, Kill Frenzy, Jesse Rose, Light Year, Gina Turner and Samo Soundboy ($30 plus fees, 21+)

2. March 23: Miami Noize @ Club Therapy featuring Zeds Dead, Para One, Le1f, Djedjotronic vs Strip Steve, Destructo, Franki Chan and special guests ($20 plus fees, 18+)

3. March 24: Robbie Rivera with Special Guests @ Cameo featuring Lucky Date, Tocadisco, Tony Arazadon, David Solano and Frankcaro ($30 plus fees, 21+)