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Posted on Mar 27, 2013

My Experience in Ultra Music Festival 2013

My Experience in Ultra Music Festival 2013

The crowd, the music, the debauchery, the inexplicable love and the reunion of #trancefamily are just a few of the magical pillars that played a major part in shaping this year’s Ultra Music Festival. I was hesitant to celebrate my birthday at this event, discouraged mainly by the ticket price and the long 3-day marathon of EDM music. I wondered, who can withstand 3 days of pounding electric music? After the event was done, the 3 days weren’t enough to quench my thirst for music, for this lifestyle, and everything that entailed UMF.

My experience was one that was blessed with new friendships, new outlooks, and definitely a greater appreciation for being in the right place at the right time. I’ll try to be as thorough as possible in my blog post in order to help future enthusiasts grab an idea of one person’s take on Ultra Music Festival 2013. Enjoy!


Getting the Tickets


UMF Early Bird tickets first got released by October/November of last year, priced at $150 but sold out in a matter of minutes or a couple of hours, leaving behind a  hype metabolized by anxiety, eagerness, and haste to grab the best deal. However, the second round after a month or so bumped up the price to around $229.00, leading another massive sell-out in a blink of an eye. At this point, if you haven’t earned your ticket, then it’s probably best to start looking through services such as eBay, Stubhub, and Craigslist. The final wave of tickets was priced at $378.00 (give or take) including tax.



It’s probably the first place one might look for tickets. The website was swarming with tickets of 3-day bunches, single-day, General Admission, VIP…you name it. The prices 6 weeks before the event varied between $450 and reaching $1100 for GA (General Admission). It is probably the safest location to buy black market tickets since the payment process and Buyer Protection programs are reliable and mitigate the risk of fraud. It is always important to check the details of your purchase (this applies to anything you purchase, anyways!). Smart sellers only offered a bidding option, leaving the price soar as much as the bidders were willing to settle their egos. After you had an image of all prices, make sure you grab the ticket with a good price and a Buy It Now option before someone else snatches it.



A similar service to what eBay offers. It’s just a different basket you can delve into, but it comes at a higher price. For some reason, the ticket prices ranged from $500 and up, but it offered greater number of tickets (probably because they didn’t sell?)



For those of you new to Craigslist, it’s basically an online flea market with a search engine. It was my main platform of research because it offered the cheapest rates. Starting at $350, tickets were generally offered on a first come first served basis, basically since tickets are sold in individual amounts. I encountered a lot of scammers, though. The cheaper tickets are in general fraud posts that prefer you wire the money instead of using paypal or any credit card. They even send a fake email designed like it’s coming from eBay itself with all the necessary wiring information and so forth. Oh, they also come with typos that no respectable company would allow. Beware of that, and make sure to check your email regularly for responses and reply promptly before they sell the ticket!


Whoever wondered #Ultra #Ultra15 #UltraFest wouldn’t be helpful? A tweet thrown into the abyss with these hashtags can offer you surprising results, and often more reliable than Craigslist especially when the tickets are already shipped and received by their owners. I tried my luck there and stumbled upon a good fella who sold me his ticket all the way from Michigan at a reasonable $410.


Receiving the ticket

Here is the tricky part. So you paid for your ticket, and you’re ready to put your hands on the key to Ultra Fest. But wait. The tickets only get printed 2-3 weeks PRIOR to the event, meaning that even if you paid for your ticket 6 months in advance, the seller won’t be able to ship it until he physically receives the ticket in the aforementioned time. This is where the issue of trusting a complete stranger with your hard-earned money comes to play. If you’re not up to the ambiguity of the situation, you’re better off getting it straight from the source. The best they can do for now would be sending you a snapshot of the ticket receipt, at least showing proof that they purchased it, but it doesn’t guarantee them sending it to you, especially on Craigslist.


Preparing for the Festival

Ready, anxious, and can’t wait to go?! Let’s hope you crossed everything off the checklist first! It’s really stupid to go unprepared to the musical event of your lifetime and experience regret rather than satisfaction. Here is a quick list of items that I believe are essential to get you through the festival ecstatic and satisfied.

  • Fluids – get lots and lots of them. Although UMF forbids people to bring their own food or drinks since they are available inside, it is better to save up those bucks and get your own liquids. After all, who would be glad paying $5 for a 0.5ml bottle of watter?
  • Sling Bag – probably the easiest and lightest way to carry things you don’t want your hands occupied with for more than 2 minutes. Easily mounted on your shoulders and could carry everything you need.
  • Flag – If you like to represent your country, make friends with fellow patrons you meet there, and cover your head from the shade, this is the best option for you. Wait till you see people killing to get to through the camera lens!
  • Props – UMF supports creative props and would allow basically anything that isn’t too sharp for the masses. I’ve seen plushies, inflatable balloons, animals, bananas, even human figures hung over crotches. Not to forget the lighting props that can cover the body from head to toe, funky shades, body paint, you name it.
  • Alcohol – I read on several blogs to be far from sober during the festival, be it booze, drugs, or anything that makes you tick. If you’re truly a fan of music, that’s all you need. The rest is a bet that might either double your happiness or render you in the long queue to the porta-potties.
  • Music Itinerary – It’s always better to be proactive on your choice of djs to attend because things could get pretty out of hand in the concert. It will take you on average of 20 minutes to go from one stage to another, assuming you are actually part of the crowd and not just chilling at the end of the line. If you own an Android or an iPhone, download the Ultra app to help organize your plan. Set up your schedule there and make sure you don’t have DJs playing at conflicting times. The more DJs you have under one roof, the better. It will save you loads of time and energy, trust me.


The event itself is scheduled roughly between 12 pm and 12 am. Of course, the exact times will differ from year to year, but that’s the general timing of the event. You can easily notice the first day won’t carry much of the good DJs, and might end up attending the event by 4-5 pm. As the days progress, you naturally progress to go at earlier times because the lineup gets better and well, you want the best value for what you paid, right? Remember, this only happens once a year, so skip the Facebook chat and make the best of UMF.

The entrance queue was extremely long but surprisingly fast. Several checkpoints set up at strategic distances avoid bottlenecks and are assigned specific jobs to make sure everything is as it should.

  • 1st checkpoint: Officers admit ticket holders, so keep it in an accessible place.
  • 2nd checkpoint: Supervisors validate your ticket and you’re officially inside Ultra Music Festival. Remember: NO RE-ENTRY!
  • 3rd checkpoint: Employees check baggages and purses and occasionally confiscate props, drugs, and liquids. The way I managed to enter my bottles of water and energy drinks is by wearing a sling bag and covering it with my flag. Worked like a charm for all days. Don’t fret much, as the employees hastily check to avoid bottlenecks.


The Experience

Ultra’s vibe starts from the walk across the streets of Miami. Walking from Brickell across to Bayfront Park, Ultra fans are easily spotted wearing original outfits, girls having lusciously tight jeans, dyed hair, and showing alot of skin. As you approach the scene, officers organizing pedestrian and motor traffic are spread across the streets, coupled with a private security company to support law enforcement.

You don’t need guidance to find the entrance. The pounding bass from across the bay will easily get your attention and join the crowd in the wave to the gates, dancing, laughing, and having a good time. It is where the excitement really starts to embody into what Ultra really is about.

Once you’re in, make sure your group accesses the porta-potties situated close to the entrance and behind the center stage on your way to the main stage. The latter is much better as it has a shorter queue and generally stay in a better shape.

The music will instantly engulf you in a wave of energy and the need to be part of it. You’re free to choose any venue that pleases you, and as of that moment, the  journey begins.

It is notable that more than 135 countries are represented in the festival. In general, everyone is there to have a good time, and strange enough there’s no signs of rudeness or negative energy. Anyone that passed by exchanged quick smiles, and the masses of people passing by were often accompanied by apologies and assistance to make way towards or farther from the DJ booth. It is amazing how all ravers behaved as a family, because they all simply wanted to have a good time.

It is true that drugs are frequent in UMF. It becomes an additional sense to detect the smell of weed or to see someone on ecstasy or any other kind of narcotics. People might approach you for selling “mollies”, which is amphetamine, but these are never trustworthy, and I strongly discourage dealing with them. They get out of your hair in an instant, anyways. I saw the ambulance rush into the sea of ravers around 5 times to pick up injured ravers, but never did I see any sort of fighting, which made the experience safe and rendered the focus on the music and just the music.

I fell in love so many times until I lost count. The girls, just as they show in the videos, are truly gorgeous. From head to toe, the majority of the girls look like goddesses, and frankly, I’m being modest. Some of them end up on the shoulders and eventually on the camera lens, and within split seconds, the camera hovers from the sky and pounces straight in front of her, bestowing a couple of seconds of fame that millions will eventually see worldwide. Bulked up guys show up topless and sweaty and frankly made it disgusting as they passed through. For God’s sake, get a towel before entering the festival!


Ultra 2013 was intense

It was a great year to attend since it held the final tour of Swedish House Mafia, the 5-year trio that shook the EDM scene like an earthquake. All the DJs that I was able to attend played extremely well, notable the following:

  • Alesso[soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Nicky Romero [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Tiësto [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Avicii [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • ATB (My all-time favourite DJ and best set) [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Dash Berlin [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Deadmau5 (Also one of the best sets on Ultra) [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • David Guetta [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Calvin Harris [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Above & Beyond [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

  • Swedish House Mafia (Their final set…ever) [soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


Goodbye, Swedish House Mafia

They were the most anticipated DJs in Ultra Music Festival. Knowing it was their final set before they disbanded as a group, it was expected to carry a dosage of emotion, but nobody expected THAT MUCH. Their set was full of energy that was coupled with intense laser lights, projectors all over, smoke machines, pyros, marquees, fireworks…basically the whole deal. The amount of people that gathered was like nothing before, and despite the cramming and the obvious fatigue from 3 days of intense raving, everybody was full of energy and tired no more.

The most intense moments were during their opening with Greyhound, where intense visuals and projector screens shone through the masses. Several others were witnessed when playing their hits. The second biggest was in a moment of silence when Axwell (I think so) asked the crammed crowd to sit down and rise up at the beat. It was a tidal wave of human energy just bouncing at the music and revived the masses like something I’ve never seen any DJ do before.

Emotions blew up at 10:50 pm when the last track was played. It was Save The World – Swedish House Mafia, and the crowd’s chants were even higher than the speakers combined. It was truly an emotional experience that left the crowd in a blend of sorrow and happiness that things ended with magic and electricity in the air and in their hearts.

The ending was followed by an Acoustic version of Don’t You Worry Child. The slow beat and the acoustic notes led the masses to the gates in a slow-paced march towards reality, knowing they made history in being part of Ultra Music Festival 15 and bidding farewell to one of the greatest DJ trio of our generation.

Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child Ft John Martin (Acoustic Version) *FREE DL*[soundcloud url=”″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Video Download:!ABJg2Zia!ZhhbDyuKRvi0fSNV9hXwllHGX-QQfDwTtAIpHOyyUJg


Frankly there isn’t much to add. Whether you’re attending with a group or alone, you will definitely make friends there. Singing the same song, jumping on the same beat, exchanging glances, photo-bombing group pictures, you’ll find your way into the lives of those around you and will definitely make an impact. I really hope to make it again for Ultra in the future. It is an amazing experience that everyone should attend at least once in their lifetime.




  1. 2 Things –

    The only people who though Swedish House Mafia’s set was emotional were the people that just recently hopped onto the EDM bandwagon and fail to mention that they played the same set that they’ve played in every other arena. Some climatic ending. I cringed watching them play their final set, acting as if they were actually mixing live.

    2nd – ‘Mollies’ are no amphetamines. Molly is supposed to be pure MDMA.

    Other than that, appreciate the review.

    • Thanks for the feedback! My lack of knowledge of their previous tracklists stems from my tendency to vary tastes across the EDM spectrum, yet I’m sure they wanted to convey at least the same emotion across different arenas.

      As for the mollies, they remember they were part of the meta-amphetamine family, and this is where it got mixed up 🙂

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Nicolas El Hayek located at Beirut, Lebanon , Beirut, LB . Reviewed by rated: 10 / 5