Ultra Music Festival made its triumphant return to its longtime home of Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami this past weekend.
The sold-out, 22nd annual edition welcomed 165,000 attendees from 101 countries, and showcased surprise performances from Hardwell, 50 Cent, Joe Jonas-fronted DNCE band, Kodak Black, Joel Corry and more.
After much speculation and with anticipation at fever pitch, Hardwell ended his four-year DJing hiatus with a stadium-smashing surprise closing Sunday night set on the Main Stage.
The Dutch superstar showcased his new dark, driving techno sound and explained the emotional journey that birthed his new sonic identity. Hardwell delivered thumping kick drums, a “Spaceman” throwback tease, and samples of Metallica and Linkin Park, in addition to announcing his forthcoming studio album, Rebels Never Die, and a coinciding 24-date world tour which includes a headlining set at Ultra Europe in Split, Croatia taking place July 8 – 10, 2022.
Before Hardwell’s closing performance, Ultra Music Festival announced the 23rd edition to take place Friday, March 24 – Sunday, March 26, 2023 at Bayfront Park via a custom light-up drone show. Ultra Music Festival 2023 tickets are available via special pre-sale now, which will end on Thursday, March 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Purchase tickets here.
David Guetta preceded Hardwell on the Main Stage with a pop-fueled set, which featured a surprise live performance from Kodak Black rapping their ‘trap house’ collaboration “Super Gremlin,” as well as an appearance from chart-shredding DJ Joel Corry to drop their Bryson Tiller collaboration “What Would You Do?” On Friday, Norwegian DJ-producer-songwriter extraordinaire Kygo closed out Ultra’s Main Stage for the first time ever. He was joined by surprise guest 50 Cent, who rapped hits like “Candy Shop” and “P.I.M.P,” as well as Joe Jonas-fronted band DNCE, who performed their new collaboration “Dancing Feet.”
The Main Stage also featured heavy-hitting headliners like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Alesso, Oliver Heldens, Afrojack, and Vini Vici, as well as the heralded selectors like FISHER, Tchami, and ACRAZE. Brazilian hitmaker Vintage Culture and masked, mysterious producer Claptone made their worldwide back-to-back debut on Sunday, bringing tech-house to the Main Stage and blasting out originals like Claptone’s remix of Nora En Pure’s “Queen of Ice” and Vintage Culture’s rework of BURNS’ “Talamanca.”
Carl Cox headlined his own RESISTANCE Megastructure Stage all three nights for the first time ever at Bayfront Park, and debuted his Hybrid Live performance in an extended 3-hour closing set on Saturday night. The inaugural Hybrid Live set allowed Cox the creative liberty to experiment with drum patterns and effects, and saw the festival veteran sample feel-good singalongs like St. Germain’s ubiquitous “Rose Rouge.”
German minimal specialist Boris Brejcha made his Ultra debut on Friday with a 3-hour closing set as part of his FCKING SERIOUS label’s first-ever stage takeover in America. Brejcha, along with his label mate Ann Clue and Parisian techno trailblazer Popof, laid down eight unrelenting hours of techno at RESISTANCE’s The Cove Stage, which touched down at Bayfront Park for the first time ever.
Throughout the weekend, both RESISTANCE’s Carl Cox Megastructure and The Cove presented debut performances from acts like Amelie Lens, Anfisa Letyago, Dom Dolla, Giorgia Angiuli [Live], John Summit, Michael Bibi, Nina Kraviz, Reinier Zonneveld [Live], and Sama’ Abdulhadi. RESISTANCE also welcomed back headlining festival veterans such as Adam Beyer, ANNA, Ilario Alicante, Joseph Capriati, Nic Fanciulli, Pan-Pot, Sasha | John Digweed, and Solardo.
A State Of Trance (ASOT) took over the UMF Worldwide Stage on Friday to celebrate its 10th anniversary of hosting its own stage at Ultra. ASOT founder Armin Van Buuren anchored the programming with two performances: he and Reinier Zonneveld played their first ever b2b set off the back of their single “Dance Again,” then he closed out the festivities with his own individual headlining performance.
Saturday and Sunday’s Worldwide Stage programming featured a deluge of bass-rattling performances, including headlining sets by Knife Party and Zeds Dead, a thunderous performance from Jauz b2b NGHTMRE, melodic bass stylings from Seven Lions, the Ultra debut of Kannibalen label heads Black Tiger Sex Machine, JOYRYDE and Ghastly’s rip-roaring b2b set as GHOST RYDR, and sizzling sets from Whethan, Kill The Noise, 4B b2b SAYMYNAME, Krewella, Slushii, Whipped Cream, Wax Motif, Mija b2b GG Magree, Hybrid Minds, and A Hundred Drums.
Gareth Emery unleashed a smashing DJ set on Friday as part of Friday’s ASOT takeover, then moved over to the Live Stage on Saturday to debut his new [ANALOG] album and live show. T
Trading lasers and CDJs for guitars and pianos, Emery unveiled never-before-heard songs from the forthcoming ANALOG LP, showcased surprise performances from world-class vocalists Emma Hewitt, Annabel, Sarah de Warren, Danny Starr, and Evan Henzi, and debuted re-imagined live versions of hits like “Concrete Angel,” “Long Way Home,” and “You’ll Be OK.” In an emotional tribute to Avicii,Emery and Annabel performed an acoustic version of “Wake Me Up” to pay homage to the historic event of Avicii debuting the song at Ultra 2013.
In addition to Emery’s mesmeric live show, the Live Stage hosted a plethora of dynamic performances; Friday’s roster saw Pendulum debut their brand-new live show for their closing set, Alison Wonderland careen between playing drums, singing and DJing, SVDDEN DEATH Presents VOYD’s vaunt his audio-visual experience, Sullivan King dole out a rock-fueled, guitar-centric set, and Ookay debut his new album with live instrumentation, choreography and inflatables.
Saturday closed with KSHMR’s Live Orchestral Experience which featured a seven-person orchestra, a brilliant female dance crew, fire bowls, and 4D special effects, preceded by Madeon’s emotive Good Faith Forever show, SOFI TUKKER’s tropical jungle dance party, and Emery’s [ANALOG] debut.
Sunday’s Live Stage programming commenced with SLANDER’s first-ever live Ultra performance alongside their pop singer-songwriter collaborator Dylan Matthew, which followed debut festival sets from cheeky genre-bender Oliver Tree and singer-songwriter-producer Elohim.
The UMF Radio Stage hosted three taste-making label takeovers, with Friday’s STMPD RCRDS takeover featuring a surprise closing set by label boss Martin Garrix immediately following his Main Stage performance.
GUD VIBRATIONS presented its first label takeover on the UMF Radio Stage on Saturday, firing off thrashing bass-cannon ammunition from imprint flag-bearers like Nitepunk, Leotrix, Frosttop and Peekaboo to name a few. Additionally, label founders SLANDER and NGHTMRE surprised fans with an unannounced back-to-back sunset set.
The UMF Radio Stage’s Sunday takeover saw leading hardstyle brand Dirty Workz curate Ultra’s first-ever hardstyle stage, including a special ‘Coone Presents 15 YRS DWX’ performance to celebrate the imprint’s 15th anniversary.
Ultra’s ‘Mission: Home’ sustainability program debuted at Bayfront Park for its most ambitious undertaking to date. ‘Mission: Home’ brought back successful initiatives from the 2019 festival like the Leave No Trace campaign, recycling program and bans on Styrofoam and certain single-use plastics, in addition to introducing new efforts such as protections for Biscayne Bay, an energy usage assessment, carbon footprint analysis and offsetting, and a brand-new festival-wide food rescue operation that donated 3,431 pounds of food to local homeless shelter Miami Rescue Mission.
Millions of Ultranauts from around the world experienced the festival’s magic virtually by tuning into the #ULTRALIVE stream, Presented by Algorand. Algorand is the world’s most decentralized, scalable, and secure blockchain infrastructure.
The #ULTRALIVE stream also offered viewers the opportunity to donate emergency aid directly toward Tabletochki Charity Foundation’s emergency aid for the children of Ukraine. By simply scanning the custom QR code at the bottom of the #ULTRALIVE stream, Ultranauts collectively raised thousands of dollars for Tabletochki Charity Foundation’s youth-focused efforts in Ukraine.
After extensive coordination with various local, state and federal authorities, which collectively led the effort on executing safety and security measures and precautions, the number of arrests dropped to an all-time low of 18 total throughout the weekend, in addition to medical transports being significantly reduced.