Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, which is billed as “the world’s premiere electronic music festival,” returned to Bayfront Park in downtown Miami March 24-26 for its 23rd edition. As in the past, it served as the grand finale to Miami Music Week, a weeklong marathon of electronic music events.
Thousands of fans representing 100 countries attended the sold-out festival, with another 42 million fans tuning in from around the world to watch select sets on #ULTRALIVE stream.
This year, Ultra’s line-up read like a veritable who’s who of EDM, techno, house and underground dance music. Highlights from the main stage included Zedd, who welcomed Ice Spice on stage for a surprise appearance; Marshmello, who was joined by Faruko, GloRilla and Roddy Rich and Swedish House Mafia, who returned to Ultra after a five year absence to close out the festival.
Attendees also packed the RESISTANCE Megastructure for Eric Prydz’s HOLO, which featured fully immersive, state-of-the-art visuals and mind-bending light effects and made his set hard to top. Other highlights from this stage, which showcased a number of house and techno artists, included Carl Cox’s and Adam Beyer’s sets.
Over on the Worldwide Stage, Armin Van Buuren marked his 11th performance at the festival with A State of Trance takeover, featuring Gareth Emery and Ferry Corsten, among others.
And despite its smaller footprint, the Live Stage drew big crowds for Grimes. Rezz, Becky Hill, M.I.A., Big Gigantic (who recently played here in Jacksonville at the Glass Factory) and NGHTMRE as GIGANTIC NGHTMRE, Kayzo (in their first-ever live performance) and Kx5 (deadmau5 and Kaskade).
Meanwhile, the UMF Radio stage hosted a trip of takeovers, most notably from Hardwell’s Revealed, which included a surprise set from Hardwell himself (who also played the Main Stage) as well as guest DJs including Dada Life, Joel Corry and Maddix.
I caught up with Maddix before his set.
“I have prepared like six unreleased songs I’m gonna play,” the Dutch DJ said. One of those new songs Maddix shared with the Ultra crowd was his latest single, “Revolution,” which was released shortly before the festival.
“It’s with Hardwell and Timmy Trumpet, and actually started during COVID, when everyone was at home and everyone’s life was basically destroyed, you know? So the lyrics are about this feeling and that we have to go up again…So many fans have been waiting for this one. I can see it in the streams – it is going really well. I played it yesterday as well. Everyone went crazy.”
Afrojack also took over the UMF stage with JACKED, hosting sets from DubVision, Mike Williams and Lucas & Steve. He also spun a special throwback set, as Nick van de Wall.
Before his set, Williams said fans could expect “a lot of new music and a lot of energy…I’m very happy to finally be back here – this is the second time I’m playing Ultra, and it’s gonna be cool.”
He also talked about appearing alongside Afrojack on the Main Stage to play their new track, “Alone,” his podcast, “On Track,” and the other DJ’s he was most looking forward to seeing at the festival (hint: lots of his Dutch colleagues, including Tiesto and Hardwell).
Last but not least, RESISTANCE’s The Cove Stage had fans on their feet for more intimate showcases from IN THE MOOD, Spectrum and Dirtybird, hosted by Claude VonStroke.
And speaking of RESISTANCE, RESISTANCE MIAMI, the brand’s first stateside residency, also debuted at M2 on South Beach this year. Additional programming was also announced for Race Week (may 5-7) and weekly Saturday parties kicking off October 28.
Shortly after this year’s festival wrapped, dates for the 2024 edition were announced — March 22-24. Tickets for Ultra 2024 are already on sale. Lineup announcement has yet to be determined.