Pack your bags because it's almost time to head to Miami! Fans from near and far are gearing up for Miami Music Week, which starts on March 21 and ends March 26, the third and final day of Ultra Music Festival. For eighteen years, Ultra has been gathering the most passionate EDM enthusiasts for an incredible weekend featuring dozens of DJs and surprise guests on multiple stages. Here are some highlights we're looking forward to seeing this year.
1. Martin Garrix's Next Level Visuals
Incredible visuals are a staple of Martin Garrix's sets, and he is constantly working with his creative team on how to make the music come to life. In September, he told us "I try to balance things out very, very well. Like if I’m in studio mode, I will be in the studio for 2-3 months just constantly working on music. In the meantime I will have a meeting with my creative team show-wise I’m like 'Alright guys, I’m working on this song. What would be cool visual wise?' And we start brainstorming, making raw sketches, raw renders, sending them back and forth with feedback, so it’s happening at the same time. We’re working towards this deadline and boom -- everything comes together. Then we start rehearsing the show and while we rehearse, there are still things we change." He hits the Mainstage Friday, March 24 at 9:55pm.
2. Live Performances by Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, and Ty Dolla $ign
3. The French Newcomer
KUNGS will no doubt be throwing bangers from his debut album, Layers, into his first ever set on the Ultra stage during the second leg of his Layers World Tour. He rose to the scene last year with his earmworm, "This Girl," a remix of Cookin' on 3 Burners' original track, but did release a couple of singles in 2015. He's adding to a hefty roster of other French DJs including David Guetta, DJ Snake, Justice, and Martin Solveig. He's headed to the Worldwide stage on Saturday, March 25 at 5:00pm.
4. The Return of Alpha 9
Arty fans need not be upset over the fact he's not exactly on this year's lineup. He will be there, performing as his alter-ego, Alpha 9, who was first introduced back in 2009. They've both been pretty busy lately. At the end of February, Arty released "Falling Down" with Noyes, an incredible singer-songwriter who you may know from Kygo's "Stay." In a letter to fans, Arty noted "I’m taking Arty music further towards the dance scene, while Alpha 9 will be a progressive/trance oriented project, this applies to branding, releases and live sets," and dropped the first Alpha 9 song in seven years, "The Night is Ours." We'll be getting The Alpha 9 Tour preview at 2:00pm on Saturday, March 26, before the tour kicks off May 4 at Output in Brooklyn, NY.
5. The Stage Production
We're a week away, and Biscayne Park is getting set to receive around 165,000 attendees. There will be eight stages. Here's a preview.
Tiësto is a heavyweight in the electric dance music world, and soon he'll be saying "on my way" to MMW, where he'll be premiering a pop-up shop at South Beach's Lincoln Road. It opens Thursday, March 23, so stop by there before you see him Saturday, March 25 at 7:15pm on the Mainstage.
7. The Return of Major Lazer
Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire hold their own, but we love when they join forces and drop beats as Major Lazer. It’s hard to believe their last appearance as Major Lazer at Ultra was in 2013. “Run Up,” their latest featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR and Nicki Minaj gives us life, as do the classics like “Bubble Butt” and “Lean On.” Isn’t everyone’s goal to be featured on Diplo’s Snapchat dancing around in the front row or holding him up while he’s crowd surfing?
8. Afrojack and Special Guests
Special guests are always speculated but rarely included on the lineup, so the fact that this is how Afrojack is listed on the bill is intriguing. He's actually listed twice, with sets on Friday and Sunday. Tomorrow, Cesqeaux is releasing his latest track, "Life Good," which features O.T. Genasis and Afrojack. Possible contenders for guests during Afrojack's 6:00pm Jacked stage set on Sunday, March 26? It's highly likely that Ty Dolla $ign, who plays the same stage right after, will be joining Afrojack to perform their collab, "Gone." Apster, Bobby Burns, D.O.D., D-Wayne, Fais, Oliver Rosa, and Ravitez might be sprinkled in as well. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
Steve Aoki can't not bring cake. It's become a staple in his set. How dope would it be to leave Miami and tell all your friends you got caked by Steve? Pics or it didn't happen. Aside from the dessert, we're excited to see Steve's luscious locks bounce around as he brings his insane energy to the Mainstage on Saturday, March 25 at 6:10pm. At the end of 2016, Aoki teamed up with Louis Tomlinson to release "Just Hold On," in what became Tomlinson's first project since One Direction announced their break in 2015. On March 8th, they dropped the music video. Perhaps Louis will be joining as a special guest.
10. The Fans
What is a music festival without the fans? To create the most enjoyable experience possible, the artists feed off of the crowd’s energy and vice versa. We'll be seeing a lot of neon, a lot of ‘Kandi,’ and a lot of flags. Ultra is a destination festival with EDM die-hards flocking to Miami from all over the globe for an unforgettable weekend.
For those who cannot attend in person, many sets will be available for streaming throughout the weekend.
Photos: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio and Getty Images