The three-day event, which launched in 1999 as Ultra Beach Music Festival during Winter Music Conference, has become the “it” destination for dance music fans from all over North America, as well as the globe. It has truly been a treat to watch the evolution of Ultra over the years. From launching as an 11-hour rave on Miami Beach in ’99 to now celebrating its 20-year anniversary with special editions of the festival taking place all over the planet, Ultra is a dance music mainstay that’s morphed with the times.
Taking a walk down memory lane, Ultra has experienced multiple breakthrough years over the past two decades. In 2007, Ultra extended to two days making it the largest dance music festival in the States. Expanding to three days, 2011 saw the festival break 100,000 revelers in attendance and held its last Ultra at Bicentennial Park. The festival returned to Bayfront Park in downtown Miami – its current home – in 2012. For its momentous 15th year in 2013, Ultra expanded the festival to two weekends with Avicii, Carl Cox, Tiësto, Calvin Harris and David Guetta all on the line-up. No surprise, it was also Ultra’s most successful year with more than 330,000 making it out to the fest and another 10 million dance music fans watching via livestream.
Fast forward to 2018, a whopping 165,000 ravers attended Ultra representing over 60 countries, and 30 million viewers tuned into Ultra Live worldwide. Swedish House Mafia – who closed Ultra with their “final” performance as an act in 2013 – reunited with a surprise performance to close out the main stage on Sunday evening.
For 20 years, Ultra has thrived despite multiple hurdles and the ever-evolving trends in dance music. Though Miami’s mayor attempted to put an end to Ultra twice – in 2003 and 2013 – the efforts proved to be unsuccessful and the festival lives on. There’s something quite mesmerizing about everything Ultra as an entity encompasses – from the next-level production to the surprise guests and the friends you make along the way. Next year Ultra pops March 29-31, 2019 and we look forward to conquering the festival grounds, for what will surely be another memorable year.
WORDS: GABRIELLE PHARMS
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