Will Smith and Marshmello
Photo: aLIVE Coverage/Ultra Music Festival
Inside Ultra Music Festival's Record-Breaking 20th Anniversary
As the event set to celebrate a whirlwind 20 years in the game grew closer, expectations were unbelievably high for Ultra Music Festival 2018. The dizzying, non-stop bacchanalia spread across three gorgeous days saw staggering attendance, record-setting viewer numbers on the official livestream, and countless amazing surprises.
With marquee performances by festival mainstays like Tiësto and David Guetta, plus a whole host of incendiary sets lighting up the floor throughout the weekend, Ultra 2018 had something for every flavor of dance music fan. With such a variety – and immensely high quality – of both talent and production, it's no surprise that the 20th anniversary of the festival drew over 165,000 attendees from 60 countries around the world, while the official livestream drew a record-shattering 30 million (!) viewers worldwide.
Surprise appearances by music's biggest acts are always a part of the energy and excitement that takes over downtown Miami each year, but for their 20th birthday Ultra pulled out all the stops. Along with scheduled performances from both Rabbit In The Moon and Josh Wink – both of whom played the very first installment of the dance festival in 1999 – attendees were treated to shocking surprise appearances by Above & Beyond, Halsey, Desiigner, Yo Gotti, and even Will Smith, who took the stage with Marshmello and banged out his timely international smash hit "Miami."
And of course, the close of the festival brought about what will undoubtedly remain one of the most talked-about surprises of the 2018 festival season: the triumphant return of Swedish House Mafia after a nearly five-year hiatus following their supposedly last-ever performance together at Ultra 2013.
The intersection of the event's special anniversary, its unparalleled slate of scheduled talent and unbelievable roster of surprise guests led Ultra to once again take the crown as No. 1 trending topic on worldwide social platforms over the weekend for the fifth year in a row. In addition, the festival's extensive advance communication and collaboration with local, state and federal authorities helped pave the way for a collective execution of security and safety measures that was categorized by EDMTunes as, "the safest Ultra Music Festival ever."
Attendees still buzzing from this year's massive intersection of dance music and culture – as well as the untold millions still working to get over their post-festival F.O.M.O. – need not fear the long interim between now and next year's Ultra, as the dates are officially confirmed for their 21st installment: March 29 – 31, 2019. Mark your calendars now!