In late September, news surfaced that Ultra Music Festival had been booted from its longtime home at Bayfront Park. It didn’t take long for the event organizers to propose a new host venue about ten minutes away on Virginia Key, and on November 15, the Miami City Council brought the proposal to an official vote. Even amid contentious opposition from Rapture Music Festival and residents of Key Biscayne, the vote passed — officially moving Ultra to a new home for the first time since 2001.
After more than three hours of heated deliberation, Miami Marine Stadium and Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in Virginia Key became the new host venue for Ultra Music Festival. The vote ended 4-1 in favor of the move, though the decision ultimately came down to two council members on the edge of a “yes” vote. The two year deal does include some contingencies — there’s the possibility of revocation within 60 days after the 2019 festival if certain circumstances occur. What’s more, Ultra has to pay $2 million to the city of Miami in order to sell up to 60,000 tickets to the festival.
But perhaps the grass will be greener in Virginia Key as Ultra opens a new chapter in the festival’s illustrious history. We’ll see come March, 2019.
With the island only reachable via Ultra’s prospective new home, residents held an emergency meeting on November 5 to air concerns ranging from noise, environmental damage, unmanageable traffic, and more. From all accounts, this isn’t just an average neighborhood rabble — citizens have hired a PR firm for the fight ahead, and promise to mobilize and resist the agreement however possible. With the November 15 vote to secure Ultra’s new home fast approaching, the sudden pushback could spell trouble for the fest’s future digs.
Tumultuous times have fallen upon Ultra‘s flagship Miami edition. Resident efforts and other factors culminated in a “no” vote from the City Commission to renew their five-year license, ending an era that lasted nearly two decades.
But the show must go one, as they say. The behemoth festival brand has set its sights on the nearby Virginia Key, per a dual confirmation from organizers and city officials that negotiations were in the works to move to this location. Currently, plans are to move the iconic three-day dance festival over to the Miami Marine Stadium; however, complications have already arisen due to the fact that the Miami International Boat Show takes place at the same time and venue. Ultra has noted their desire to run the festivals “in tandem” with one another, in two separate areas of the park. They’ve also run into an obstacle with Rapture Festival’s booking on the space, but organizers are fairly confident the smaller, underground-focused event will end up moving locations should their plans come to fruition.
A vote to determine whether or not the move to Virginia Key will be able to take place will be held on November 15.
The event’s new proprietors have settled on bringing the event back to the Faena District, coinciding with the conference partnership with The Faena hotel, for the 34th annual WMC March 25-28 to undoubtedly catalyze another brimming Miami Music Week. The 2019 edition of WMC will embrace a more targeted organizational structure, featuring both an application-only, panel-fueled networking branch of the conference, oriented at working industry professionals, in addition to an informative, publicly accessible portion in which inquiring music connoisseurs can learn more of the ins and outs of the industry’s landscape.
“For decades, the electronic music industry ran through WMC,” said Ultra Co-founder Russell Faibisch in a recent release. “It was where the mega deals were done and provided a launching point for countless legendary tracks as well as breakthrough DJs. In March 2019, WMC returns with a fully revamped program that gets the industry back to business.”
With its new, fully stocked agenda, WMC is primed to serve as an ideal segue into not only Ultra Music Festival, as it always has, but for industry folk and lay-listeners alike to direct efforts towards the continued construction of the electronic empire at large.
After the Sept. 27 announcement from Miami City Commission that Ultra Music Festival would no longer be allowed in Bayfront Park, the festival has issued a statement in response.
In a Facebook post published hours after the announcement, festival organizers said they’re “disappointed” with the outcome of the decision, but that they’re working on “establishing a resolution that works for everyone.” Organizers also took time in the post to clear the air about some of the decision’s ramifications, noting that the vote “represents only a denial of certain terms of the current proposed five-year contract, rather than the continued production of the overall festival itself.”
Ultra has taken place in Miami for the past 18 years, but continued complaints from area residents of over the years have caused the issue to be taken up with the Miami City Commission. Though it remains unclear where the festival will take place next year, it appears from this announcement that festival-goers can remain hopeful that the organizers will concoct a solution.
Ultra Music Festival has been a staple in Miami for 18 years. But its run is finally over.
Today, the City of Miami Commission voted to deny the festival a new five-year agreement forcing the longstanding event to find a new home.
There wasn’t much debate on the commission and the final vote was unanimous, arguing that downtown residents have been complaining for years that the festival was too loud and chaotic for the residential neighborhood.
Despite opposition, Ultra had hope that the commission might still let the festival return, just for a shorter term, but there hopes were quickly dashed after Ultra’s spokesperson Ray Martinez asked to defer the vote and was confronted by Joe Carollo.
“What you are trying to do is take away the decision from the [Bayfront Park Management Trust] and get the deal you want and leave the [DNA] out in the cold. Where is the transparency here? You guys know that I know what you are up to.”
It is unclear where Ultra Music Festival will take place next year.
Nearly six months after celebrating its landmark 20th anniversary, Ultra Miami has unveiled its exultant recap of the historic weekend surely no attendee has forgotten (at least not deliberately). The short picture boasts its seemingly endless stream of EDM hall of famers, including Tiësto, Steve Aoki, Oliver Heldens, and Dash Berlin: a mere fraction of the 2018 roster.
Inundated by glistening bikini bods, a thundering mass of pyrotechnics, and a kaleidoscopic sea of swirling artist emblems, the video may appear hyperbolic, albeit, only to those who have never had the chance to attend. The recap illustrates the round-the-clock celebratory nature of the fest, shifting from day to night with no loss of vigor, mirroring that of the perpetually enthused, perma-smile patrons. Additionally, those Ultra attendees brandish not only a full spectrum of artist memorabilia, but national flags from all ends of the universe, solidifying the festival’s overwhelming scope of attraction. Even Will Smith can be seen taking the sparkling city up on his eternal “Welcome To Miami.”
For weeks, rumors of Ultra Shanghai’s demise have swirled across Reddit, leaving hopeful festival-goers wondering if they’d be able to attend a second year of the Chinese event. Unfortunately, the festival has announced its postponement and will not be taking place Sept. 8 and 9, due to “circumstances beyond [the festival organizers’] control.”
Rumors of Ultra Shanghai’s cancellation began circulating on Chinese social media platform Weibo last month, but were unconfirmed until the Ultra China team released an official statement on Aug. 31. Prior to the statement, a lineup had not been announced, leaving fans further speculating if it would happen.
Though the festival’s cancellation will surely disappoint those who were anticipating a Shanghai date, the Ultra China team announced that Ultra Beijing would, in fact, be taking place in just a few weeks on Sept. 15 and 16 at Beijing China NHC Base. The newly announced lineup includes Zedd, Axwell / Ingrosso, Oliver Heldens, and more. The full lineup is available here. Beijing is more than 750 miles from Shanghai.
Those who closely follow Tiësto‘s radio shows and listen to his live sets may find themselves pleasantly surprised by his latest single release, “WOW.” He debuted the track live at Ultra earlier this year, and since then, the veteran DJ has been prominently featuring the tune on air all summer. “WOW” already has found such heavy radio play since its reveal that some might have thought it was already out, though now Tiësto is gracing fans with the track’s official release.
The Dutch mega-producer is known for his ability to create music in a wide variety of genres, and its a definite contrast from recent pop-centric collaboration “Jackie Chan” featuring Preme, Post Malone, and co-producer Dzeko. “WOW” is a pulsing big room house piece with an infectious, kicking bass line that makes the track an undoubtable earworm. The single is out on Tiësto’s own Musical Freedom.
Ultra Shanghai is set to debut on September 8, across two days. However, a lineup announcement or any updates from the brand have yet to arrive with just weeks left until its supposed launch date. Puzzled fans have been wondering aloud what is going on, and if the festival is set to proceed, and it seems an answer is brewing: per a Redditor with access to China’s Weibo network (their Facebook equivalent), comments on the event’s page there point to a definite cancellation.
Troubles for Ultra’s China arm don’t end there. Per the same Reddit post, Ultra Beijing is also being postponed — this would be the second time this rendition of Ultra has been pushed back, the first being in June. Hopefully, this is all just hearsay among Chinese fans, as there have been no official announcements from the brand itself regarding these rumors.
If Ultra China is meeting its demise — a possibility for sure given the country’s conservative environment — fans would be missing out an a variety of top DJ talent including DJ Snake, The Chainsmokers, Coyu, and more. Only time will tell if these rumors are substantiated or not.