Though Electric Daisy Carnival has been around for two years longer than Ultra Music Festival since it's inception in 1997, for many years Ultra has been considered the largest and best electronic dance music festival in the United States. It won the International Dance Music Award for “Best Music Event” for almost six consecutive years only to be beaten out by Tomorrowland in Belgium in 2012 and 2013. However, EDC promoters Insomniac Events have won the “Best Event Promoter” title for the past two years and are reaching new heights with a recent Live Nation partnership. Today EDC is a touring festival like Ultra with stops in New York, Chicago, Orlando, Puerto Rico, London and it's main event in Las Vegas. We made the pilgrimage to Miami in March for UMF and Las Vegas for EDC a couple of weeks ago and decided to take a stab at the question on every EDM devotee's mind. Which is better EDC Las Vegas or Ultra in Miami?
See Also: NorCal vs SoCal Fests: A Comparison
5. The People
UMF: Being the first EDM festival to expand to two weekends, Ultra had a combined total of over 330,000 people from 95 different countries as it coincides with the world famous Winter Music Conference. It also reached 10 million people around the world through it's UMF TV coverage making it the most watched unsponsored music event in YouTube history. What you saw was an all ages raging party. Lot's of bros, YOLO hats and kids really wanting to party their faces off (it also coincides with Spring Break the first week). It was great to see festival goers from all over the world, but for the most part it was east coast ragers ready to get turnt up.
EDC: EDC rivaled UMF with attendees from all 50 states and 46 international countries. An estimated 345,000 revelers joined over the course of three days. The PLUR vibes were infections as Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac's CEO got engaged to his baby mamma Holly Madison. The sold-out crowd was also able to tie the knot, renew their vows or celebrate friendships in a non-legal ceremony at a wedding chapel for the first time ever. Even DJ Tommie Sunshine got married to his long time girlfriend Tiny Daniela. We saw ravers from all walks of life, EDM fans, old school techno lovers and even burners dominating the area surrounding the art carts and installations. Unlike last year, the vibes and atmosphere were truly special and consistent with the raver/burner attitude of responsibility.
Up next: Which venue is better?
UMF: You can't go wrong with the ocean front view and downtown Miami skyline at Ultra. Miami is like Vegas on the beach, basically heaven for party people. The weather is beautiful as it's not muggy like in the summer months. Getting from south beach to downtown though can be a hassle around midnight when the festival ends and unless you have a rental car cab wait times are ridiculous. Plenty of people stay downtown however and can walk from their hotel to Bayfront Park. In the past it was held at Bicentennial Park in which we felt there was more space (even though it's smaller, the stages where more spread out), but it could also be due to less people. Regardless UMF has outgrown it's venue and just walking from stage to stage results in being pushed by unplur bros and festival goers.
EDC: Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps and makes the perfect setting for an evening massive that goes till 6am as opposed to midnight like at UMF. Something about staying up dancing the night away as the sun comes up makes this location special. Though the LA Colosseum was a magical place, it seems the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the perfect size for how large the event is now. There's plenty of dancing room and places to hang out when you want to take a break, but still hear the awesome music. The traffic jams from EDC to the Las Vegas strip are ludicrous though and since everyone has to drive to get there, getting out of that parking lot can be a nightmare. Insomniac created a new road for shuttles that has helped alleviate the mess, but there's still lots of waiting.
Up next: Which one has better music?
UMF: Ultra has had some of the hottest artist like Pendulum, Underworld, The Prodigy, Disclosure, Kraftwerk and Swedish House Mafia's last ever show. They incorporate a diverse selection of live acts such as The Cure, New Order, Faithless and Snoop Dogg. The Mega Structure is hosted by Carl Cox & Friends and then Armin Van Buuren's ASOT on Sunday. The Bayfront Stage has a more underground European vibe and is hosted by Space Ibiza with artist like Tiga, Nic Fanculi and Joris Voorn. With a little something for everyone even the UMF Radio Stage had Afrojack & friends Friday, the biggest trap DJs Saturday and tech house artist on the Toolroom Records stage Sunday. For being an electronic music festival this is the most diverse line-up out there.
EDC: EDC was the who's who of EDM and had every major DJ and producer. The festival could however, use a little bit more variety and less of the artist that roll through the OC and LA nightclub scene on a weekly basis. We did love that they added more underground acts on the main stage like Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin and Eric Prydz. Noticeably the neonGARDEN had music for a more seasoned dance music pallet as it was hosted by artist mentioned above and our favorite "Get Lost” night with Damian Lazarus and friends. Also the bassCON stage was unique to EDC with some of the top hardstyle and 140 style artist. The diversity was definitely there with a dubstep stage and a HARD stage, but it was no where near to the extent as UMF.
Up next: Which one has more production value?
2. Production Value
UMF: Let's face it, compared to EDC, Ultra has little to zero production value. The main stage was one of the largest stages ever, but EDC made sure to top it this year. Also in the past they had huge stages like the mega structure which made it's way to EDC this year as well as Coachella. Sure there's fireworks, lasers, LED walls, fog, dancers, a VIP section and Red Bull sponsored flight deck. But besides that there really isn't much else to do besides walk around from stage to stage and try to find a place to cool off. Heck why do you think you see people in the trees and on top of trash cans?
EDC: Insomniac is known for it's attention to detail in creating an experience unlike any other. With hundreds of performers walking around, art carts blaring music from all corners of the speedway, interactive art installations, carnival rides and the largest display of fireworks that could literally battle the damn Olympics – EDC has the best production we have seen at ANY music festival electronic or not (besides Burning Man). The main stage rivals Tomorrowland's (though probably not as big) and the only complaint we had was the sound was low on Sunday. Even other stages like the HARD stage was larger than life and had more people than at the main stage at some point.
Up next: Which one has the better parties?
1. The Parties
UMF: Now in it's 28th annual consecutive year, Winter Music Conference–which coincides with Ultra–has been a staple for any dance music artist for years now. Though the conference itself has lost it's luster, the parties that surround it are unlike anything you have ever experienced. With a plethora of yacht parties, private villa parties, pool parties, club nights and after hours that go until 4pm the next day the vibe in Miami during WMC and what they now call Miami Music Week is incredible. Though not directly correlated to Ultra anymore (the two have been feuding about God knows what for a decade now), we suggest heading down to Miami for the week to see some of the world's most renowned artist in intimate settings, shake it with crazy Europeans that know how to party and then maybe hit up Ultra one day to find out what the fuss is about for yourself.
EDC: EDC has found a home in Las Vegas with the mayor even declaring it EDC Week and the top casino's hosting pool parties and nightclub events. There is enough going on for every music taste such as Las Vegas Loves Techno and brands like HARD and Juicy Beach (from Miami of course) throwing their own pool parties. With Bassrush Massive on Thursday, the EDM Biz conference and an inaugural award show slated for 2014, Insomniac is trying to bring that WMC magic to the dessert. Yet nothing is like exploring nightlife in Miami. EDC goes until six am for three days straight and we don't recommend missing that spectacle. We do know some hardcore EDM aficionados who managed to pull off the massive, pool parties, EDC and crazy after hours parties the whole weekend though. Kudos to them, but our livers can't tolerate that!
Up next: And the winner is…
By our estimation, it looks like EDC edged out UMF by barely enough to win the challenge. Which one do you think is better?
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