Entering it's 16th year, Ultra Music Festival will be held in the beautiful Bayfront Park, just along the shores of Biscayne Bay in the heart of downtown Miami. With Miami Music Week and the Winter Music Conference overlapping the same week as Ultra, over 400,000 music enthusiasts attend the festival to experience one of the greatest festival productions in the world. With five stages playing music of over 120 artists, Ultra is expanding to be even bigger and better than ever before this year. As veteran festival-goers, here are some of our tips and tricks to surviving Ultra Music Festival this month without breaking the bank, or losing your sanity (or friends).

FESTIVAL PASSES When buying tickets, Ultra gets sold out in a matter of seconds when the public receives news of early-bird sales and payment plan packages. VIP soon follows with selling out, but general admission passes are still able to be purchased. Not being available for very long, we strongly recommend you purchase your festival passes soon. When approached by someone outside of the festival offering to sell their ticket, more than likely it'll be fake. Don't risk being scammed by scalpers, and don't waste your money on something you can't verify as a valid ticket.

LODGING With such a pour of tourists and music travelers during Miami Music Week and the entire weekend of Ultra, most hotels along Biscayne Boulevard are completely booked, or sky rocket their prices to correlate with supply and demand. Some of the cheaper hotels are located in Miami Beach, or even Coral Gables which both tend to be about 5-10 miles from Bayfront Park. Here are a few hotel options to look into that are still currently (for the most part) under $370 a night. Another suggestion is to look into booking either a shared room or renting a condo, apartment or full house via Air BnB or VRBO. This option is definitely more reasonable money wise if traveling with a group of friends.

TRANSPORTATION With a multitude of cab services in Miami, there's no problem with calling them down to the hotel you're staying at, but depending on where you are staying, the pay could range from $30-75 one way - something you definitely want to avoid, for the sake of your bank account. One thing to be mindful of is that during your cab ride, a good chunk of it will be spent in traffic, during which the cab meter will continue to run. As an alternative, be sure to check to out the Miami Metrorail, which routes thorough the entire city. Rides are as low as $2.25 and it conveniently drops you off on Biscayne Boulevard, right next to the venue. For those driving through the city, parking can rack up from $25-50. Parking just a few blocks away could save you as much as $20 and also save you the hassle of incredibly condensed traffic when you are getting home. Use the walking time to get pumped up for the day, and soak in those Miami rays!

ESSENTIALS TO REMEMBER Three things that everyone tends to forget before packing their bag for the day:

  • External cell phone changer: With all the Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking and Snapchatting you're going to do, you will definitely need a battery recharge, maybe even once you enter the gate.
  • Sunglasses: Please spare yourself and buy cheap ones. With all of the dancing around that you will do, you want to be able to protect your eyes but also not be distressed given the high chance that you will lose them.
  • Sunscreen: You're going to be in the hot Miami sun for hours on end. Bypass the embarrassment and pain of walking around on the second day as if someone charred you.

ULTRA MOBILE APP: Downloading this app will definitely better your festival experience by allowing you to customize your own set schedules, keep track of start times and stages, and sending group messages to other Ultra Mobile App users.

ARRIVING: Gates open at 4pm on Friday but people come by 5 hours in advance to make sure they can get in first. If you want a great view and are willing to get slightly trampled, I would definitely arrive early at the gates. Saturday and Sunday's gates open at NOON.

MEETING PLACE: If and when your group splits, use the merchandise tent as a meeting spot. It's central location and easy to spot nature really helps save a lot of nerves and cell phone battery.

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AUTHOR CREDIT: ALEXANDRA SHAFRAN

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