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Ultra Music Fest Starts Friday In Downtown Miami

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Get ready for a lot of loud music this weekend as 16th annual Ultra Music Festival takes over downtown Miami with a lot of noise and neon.

The festival, which runs Friday, March 28th through Sunday, March 30th, is one of the largest electronic music festivals in the world.

"It's just great seeing people from all around the world gathered just for music," said Andrew Cupp. "It's an awesome thing, an awesome feeling."

Inside the gates of Ultra, crews were putting finishing touches on the stages and lights Thursday afternoon and outside the gates people were already getting into the spirit.

"It's my first time," said Barbara Quintanilla.  "I'm super, super excited and all the way from Houston."

Quintanilla and her boyfriend, James Carroll arrived from Texas Thursday.  Their trip wasn't cheap.

"I lost count somewhere in the several thousands," said Carroll.

The couple said it's worth it and both people said they'll spend some extra cash exploring the area.

"We look forward to touring Miami," said Quintanilla. "It's our first time here too."

According to Ultra organizers the weekend brings about $79 million into South Florida's economy as 50 to 60 thousand people are expected each day of the three-day event.

Tickets cost nearly $400 plus a $90 service fee.  According to the event's website, the tickets are nearly sold out.   If you're looking for a cheaper way into the event, watch out.  A Craigslist poster is selling replica tickets for $150. The seller says they won't scan but they will get you in the checkpoints and the post stated "what you do with them isn't my problem."  They could end up being a big problem for people who get taken.

Undercover Miami police officers will be amongst the crowds to make sure everyone is following the rules.

"You could almost reach out and touch us and us the same," said Miami Police officer Rene Pimentel. "For the amount of people that are out there and the type of event that it is, the amount of arrests is minimal. It's a great amount of revenue that is generated for the city and people enjoy themselves."

For those who live downtown or plan on spending any time there over the weekend, travel will be tedious.

Road closures will be in effect -- beginning Thursday at 9 p.m.

Southbound traffic along Biscayne Boulevard will be detoured west at NE 4th Street to NE 2nd Avenue.

Drivers will then use NE 2nd Avenue to get where they are going.

Northbound Biscayne Boulevard drivers will experience lane closures and a shift to the southbound lanes at Southeast 1st Street.

Northbound traffic will then continue north in the southbound lanes to NE 4th Street where it will be re-directed back into the regular northbound lanes.

If you plan on going to Ultra and live downtown, consider yourself lucky.

"It's very convenient for me, I just need to walk here, said Cupp.  "I don't need to have hassle with traffic or anything like that."

If you don't plan on going to Ultra, you might want to avoid the area.

Due to the congestion of downtown Miami and the difficulty in finding parking, attendees have been told to getting there by car is not the best option. They've been urged to use Metrorail and MetroMover.

Tri-Rail has announced that it will extend train service every night during the festival. The special train will leave the Metrorail Transfer Station at 1:45 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and at 1:00 a.m. on Monday. The entire schedule can be viewed at Friday one-way fares are between $2.50 and $6.90 and weekend fares are just $5 all day.

This year's Ultra Music Festival will feature three fully operational water refill stations, where water containers can be filled for free at any time. These locations will be clearly marked on the site map and within the festival's mobile app. Bottled water will still be widely available for those that prefer that option.

Organizers say this year they revamped their wi-fi set up. The log-in information will be posted throughout the park and in the program guide attendees will receive at the gate. There will be specific "signal zones" throughout the park. There's also a "friend finder" function in the mobile app which can help set up places for groups.


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