Ultra Music Festival is a sort of alternate reality where gigantic crowds of people dressed in rave gear are the norm. Not everyone is the experienced rave-goer, so there are certain things that you really need to know. We know it’s a bit of an afterthought at this point, but we hope you find these tips to be helpful for surviving any similar festival weekend. (The season is just getting underway, after all.) This is just a short list of our insider tips, but feel free to chime in with yours in the comments.
1. Get there early Saturday
Getting there early and exploring on day 2 is fun. You can find lots of cool places you don’t know exist: great places to rest in the shade, and even food stands with better things to eat than hot dogs (Watermelon!). It’ll also give you a leg up on the knowing all the best spots are for Sunday to sit-down and watch the show if you’re tired. (At Bayfront, the hill by the BAO dome offered a solid vantage point, and there were tons of empty porta-potties seldom used in the back of the park. )
2. Bring a Camelback
Staying hydrated is key at large-scale events like Ultra, since even just dancing you’re bound to get thirsty in the heat. Camelbacks are not only an easy way to get water while you’re immersed in the crowd, but you can often get vendors to fill them up for less than the cost of a real water bottle. (I paid up to $3, but some guys would just do it for free.) Yes, the water might not be as pure as bottled, but it is really cold and costs much less than $5 bottles over three days.
3.Tents get crowded — but not everywhere
This year it seemed like certain tents were always packed — especially the Carl Cox/ ASOT tent. However, if you do a little searching you’re bound to find a spot with a great view and space to breathe. The UMF Korea / Brazil tent was crowded on the right side, for example, but if you walked around to the left you could easily get right up front.
4. Bring a cellphone battery / external charger
Let’s face it: Whether you’re at a festival like Ultra or just sitting in class, it sucks when your cellphone runs out of life. Whether you’re trying to find your friends or just taking pictures and videos, having an extra battery pack like the Mophie Juice Pack can be crucial to staying in contact. This year’s UMF had some charging stations set up around the venue, but they also require you to stand there while your phone charges and aren’t as convenient as something pocketable.
5. Arrange for pickup
If you aren’t staying walking distance from Ultra, getting a ride home can be a pain point. At 12AM (or 11 on Sunday) when UMF is over, 50,000 people hit the streets of Miami and it’s a mad dash for taxis and vans. If you arrange for a ride beforehand you can meet a few blocks from the site and get right back to your hotel without stressing or getting ripped off. Yeah there’s also the $10 bus to South Beach, but why pay that when you want to get dropped off right at your hotel?
Bottom Line: Do Your Homework
Just a few days before heading to Miami, Deadmau5 shared a link on Facebook for a free shuttle from South Beach to Ultra. Cab drivers are known to jack up prices during Ultra, so I jumped at the opportunity and signed up. While I expected a simple coach bus, instead there was a decked out party bus (live DJ, lasers, lights) with Deadmau5 and SOL Republic logos on the outside. They were even giving away free pairs of their Track HD headphones to people just for riding the bus. The headphones themselves retail for $130 which is a great price for such quality headphones. “Soundtrack Of Life” or SOL Republic saved me a ton of money throughout the weekend. and they told me they might do it next year, so sign up to be a SOLdier for more information.