Ultra Australia's jaw-dropping debut brings a world-class electronic lineup Down Under

Ultra Music Festival was established in Miami, Florida, in 1999. The popularity of the electronic music festival quickly erupted and the annual event now routinely attracts more than 100,000 people. This led to the launch of Ultra Worldwide, which hosts festivals across South America, Asia and in South Africa. 

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Drew Ressler

This month sees the debut of Ultra Australia with events in Melbourne and Sydney happening across the final weekend in February. Headlined by EDM chart-toppers The Chainsmokers, Marshmello and Martin Garrix, as well as Swedish techno producer Adam Beyer, the Melbourne instalment promises to be an authentic representation of the Ultra brand.

“We work very closely with Miami HQ to ensure everything is rolled out how you see it across the world,” says festival programmer Travis Grech. “From artwork to visuals and production to our headliner artists, we endeavour to do our best to give the ultimate Ultra experience as seen worldwide.”

The festival proudly identifies as a showcase of the world’s top EDM DJs. In terms of artists who’ve achieved major commercial success, the lineup delivers. Along with US pop crossover acts The Chainsmokers and Marshmello, as well as Dutch wunderkind Garrix and Swede Beyer, Ultra Australia features rising US stars Illenium and Slushii and a B2B DJ set from influential tech house DJs Dubfire and Nicole Moudaber.

“Ultra is known for its amazing world class production and headliner acts,” says Grech. “Working closely with Miami it was an important part of what puts Ultra Australia in a league of its own. I can’t explain how hard it is to secure talent here in Australia – so many factors go into place when talking to agents.”

Acts like The Chainsmokers, Marshmello, Garrix, Illenium and Slushii represent the new generation of future bass, progressive house and EDM-pop crossover. Fashioning a lineup that characterised this moment was fundamental.

“You listen to the radio and there is a good chance you will hear a Marshmello song,  given he is the eighth most streamed Spotify artist in the world,” Grech says. “The Chainsmokers just released a new track with Aussie legends 5 Seconds of Summer while Martin Garrix is the number one DJ in the world and always a crowd favourite, so we are really excited to have him as a part of Ultra Australia. His fanbase here in Australia is so strong.”

The organisers were wary of Ultra exclusively appealing to one demographic, which is where the Resistance stage comes into play. Headlined by Beyer, Dubfire and Moudaber, as well as Dutch tech house veteran Joris Voorn, the Resistance stage is designed to extend the appeal of the festival.

“The Resistance brand is a huge brand within the Ultra family, having had huge success over in Ibiza and in all cities,” Grech says. “I cannot wait to see this stage come to life. The production on this stage is world class and going by ticket sales, it’s great to see a different generation getting ready to come for a fun day out.”

The lineup’s Australian contingent includes Sydney-based EDM DJ Tigerlily, Melbourne bounce pioneer Will Sparks, production duo the Sunset Bros. and a long list of smaller, emerging acts.

“It’s so important that being a huge international brand like Ultra, we give our homegrown Aussie heroes the main stage they deserve,” Grech says. “I know how hard these guys work 52 weeks of the year, so when a major show like this rolls around it’s important we give them every opportunity to be on the main stage alongside these headliners. Further to this, we have our own UMF Radio stage, which is made up of local artists from all over Australia, which is exciting to see and be a part of.”

The festival also promises state-of-the-art visuals, including supreme stage design and production values steered by Ultra Worldwide production designer, Ray Steinman.

“The production is something that has never been done before in Australia,” Grech says. “We have worked with Ray Steinman to create the ultimate main stage which you see all over the world. Fans will be very excited. The build takes two weeks so you can just imagine how big it is.”

It’s inevitable for some people to feel reluctant towards major electronic music festivals due to concerns about crowd size and the relentless nature of it all. But Ultra Australia is determined to ensure the safety of all attendees and make it possible to have a relatively relaxed time.

“We have put in place some very serious procedures to ensure everyone that enters the festival goes home safe. For the past few weeks, we have been putting on our social media important messages and will continue to do so leading up to the event and also on day.

“Ultra Australia is all about having fun at your own time and pace. If you love to be front row, centre or the back of the crowd and love the visual aspect, we have something for everyone.”

Ultra Australia takes over Flemington Racecourse on Saturday February 23. Grab your tickets via the festival website.