Thousands of people from all over the world will descend on Miami for the Ultra Music Festival.
Along with the electronica, like at any music festival, there will be changing weather, mud, nasty bathrooms and expensive parking. After years of covering the festival, I have learned some basic do's and don'ts.
It all goes down March 24-26 at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. Here's a basic guide to surviving these three days of loud, electronic dance music.
Ultra only admits people age 18 or older. That means you cannot attend the festival without providing identification. IDs will be scanned at the gate, so leave your fake one at home.
They accept state-issued IDs or a driver's license, valid passport, military ID, Native American ID or Canadian ID. Foreign attendees who don't want to bring a passport need an ID issued by their home country and a copy of the passport.
Any bag you plan to bring to the festival has to be see-through - that is, made of clear plastic, clear vinyl or clear PVC.
Amazon.com sells cheap ones for $10 to $25.
The festival will make exceptions for small clutch bags and hydration CamelBaks that are not backpacks.
Portable toilets are not pleasant in any circumstance, but it definitely gets worse after thousands of people use them on the same day.
Bringing your own toilet paper is always a good idea.
Hand sanitizer comes in handy after you've used the bathroom, because there are almost no working sinks around.
It's also a good idea to use sanitizer before you eat.
This isn't news for anybody. People often dehydrate at the festival for drinking and dancing too much under a scalding sun.
Don't forget to drink water. The festival has two water refill stations, one by the Eco Village and another one by the southernmost exit. You're not allowed to walk in with water bottles, but you can refill a bottle after you've bought one.
There will be ATM machines inside the festival, but who wants to wait in line and pay an extra fee?
Make sure you bring plenty of cash. It will make it easier to buy food, drinks and water. You may also need money to pay for parking or a cab.
You'll be walking and jumping all day, and so will thousands of people right next to you.
Wearing sneakers or closed-toe shoes is just common sense. It's never fun to be stepped on by a person in a banana costume or wearing sandals on a ground filled with trash.
I would look for the most comfortable shoes or sneakers you have in the house.
Even the most comfortable shoes can cause blisters. Bring bandages just in case.
The festival has a 12-foot-high fence. In 2014, dozens of people jumped the fence to avoid paying for the festival and ended up harming a security person.
Since last year, the fence is 4 feet higher and covered, so you can't grab any holes to jump over it.
Ultra is so loud that even when you get home, you may still hear the music inside your head. Earplugs help you control the volume. Trust me, you'll still be able to hear the music.
Public transportation and parking
The thousands of people who come to Ultra make traffic and parking in downtown Miami worse than usual. Parking usually costs upward of $20.
The best option is to park away from the festival and take the Metrorail, Metromover or Tri-Rail to avoid all traffic. Metrorail costs $2.25 per trip. Tri-Rail costs $2.50 to $11.55 on Friday and $5 on weekends. The Metromover is free. Both Tri-Rail and the Metromover have added extended hours on festival days.
If you prefer to drive, the best option is to arrive early when parking lots are not full, and possibly cheaper. Leaving early or waiting a couple of minutes after the festival ends is also a good idea to avoid traffic jams at the end of the day.
The company will have an Uber Ultra Lounge a few blocks from the festival, at 520 Biscayne Blvd., to allow easier access for the cars. Dropoffs and pickups will run from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday.
Sunscreen and lip balm
Wearing sunscreen in Miami is a smart decision pretty much all year, but especially if you're going to be at an outdoor festival all day. You don't want to get a sunglasses-shaped sunburn.
Lip balm also helps keep your lips hydrated and protected.
A sealed plastic bag for your cellphone
Cellphones break at Ultra. It may rain, someone could spill a drink on it, or you may just sweat too much and break it.
Carrying it in a sealed plastic bag is cheaper than buying a new phone.
What you shouldn't bring
Ultra has a long list of forbidden items. Here are the most unusual ones:
- Stuffed animals
- Real animals
- Facial masks
- Opened packs of tampons or cigarettes (closed ones are fine)
- Glow sticks
- Balloons, balls and Frisbees
- Water guns, squirt guns or spray bottles
- Bicycles, skateboards or scooters
- Umbrellas (bring a poncho instead)
- Chairs, blankets, sleeping bags or tents
- Musical instruments or whistles
- Laser pens
- Pens, markers and spray paint
- Poles, sticks or "totems" (including your selfie stick)
And here are the most common-sense ones:
- Food and drinks
- Flammable items or liquids
- Professional camera or audio recording equipment
- Opened medication