Ultra Music Festival kicks off today for the first time since 2019. This year also marks the return of Ultra's Bayfront Park location, an urban, tropical environment set against the backdrop of Miami's futuristic downtown area. The festival had a brief stint at Virginia Key in 2019 before it was brought back to Bayfront in 2020, only to be cancelled just days before the festival over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today Ultra Music Festival is a global brand known for producing some of the biggest all-electronic festivals around the globe. Ultra Miami, the original and flagship festival, is still the most iconic of the chain of events. As we prepare for the magic of Ultra 2022, let's take some time to look back on some past Ultra Music Festival moments that make the festival what it is today.
5. Shaq Raging in the Ultra Crowd
Much like Coachella, Ultra is a great festival for celebrity-spotting. It's always a pleasant surprise to find out that a new celebrity is part of the rave fam, especially when it's the last person you would expect. When I saw this video of Shaquille O'Neal raging in the crowd at Ultra 2019 it obviously gave me a rush of serotonin.
Shaq in the crowd at Ultra Music Festival 🤣 pic.twitter.com/IzwSKN0lbd— DatPiff (@DatPiff) March 31, 2019
4. Disclosure's First US Performance
At this point in their career, it's hard to imagine a time when Disclosure was considered an up and coming group. Even when they first broke onto the scene their fame was nearly instantaneous, but you can thank Ultra Music Festival for being a sort of catalyst in their rise to fame. Disclosure first took the stage in the United States at Ultra in 2013 to promote their debut LP, Settle, which I would easily consider one of the more groundbreaking albums of the 2010s.
3. Madonna's Surprise Appearance During an Avicii Set
Like I said before, Ultra is the Coachella of electronic music. Madonna made a surprise appearance in 2012 when she took the stage during Avicii's (RIP) set to perform a special mix of 'Girl Gone Wild' that was on her album, MDNA. It's impossible to ignore Avicii's contributions to the EDM world, but his influence on pop music as a whole shaped the industry in the 2010's and beyond. See the video below:
2. Eric Prydz' Debut of the 3D Holo Experience
If you've been raving for awhile you know that the visual elements of any rave are just as mind blowing as the music—honestly sometimes more. However, rarely are there groundbreaking advances in the technology that make a show's LEDs or lasers stand out. Eric Prydz, however, really broke the internet with his 3D holo experience that debuted at Ultra 2014. The holo experience was an all-new visual experience that brought his production to a new level. It's really impossible to explain what the 3D holo experience is in words, so check out the video below to get a sample for yourself.
1. Ultra's Return to Bayfront
Well technically this one hasn't happened yet. After a difficult year in 2019 when Ultra was forced to move its event to Virginia Key the festival was slated to return to the iconic Bayfront Park it calls home in 2020. Unfortunately that event was canceled just days before it was set to happen over the COVID-19 pandemic, so Ultra hasn't had an event at Bayfront since 2018, a whole four years ago. While Virginia Key boasted more space for the event, it's location outside of Miami's central downtown made the venue difficult to access, leaving thousands of attendees stuck at the festival after it ended each night.
Ultra's return to Bayfront begins this afternoon, kicking off the first real festival season we've had since 2019 and ushering in a new future for the festival. We can't wait to see what Ultra 2022 brings and to [hopefully] have to update our list of the top Ultra moments for 2023 after this year.