Ultra Music Festival

The Mastermind Behind Ultra's Stage Designs Dishes on This Year's Massive Production

Beyond the artists who step foot on it, Ultra Music Festival's Main Stage is a spectacle in itself.
Beyond the artists who step foot on it, Ultra Music Festival's Main Stage is a spectacle in itself. Rudgr
Ultra Music Festival always does it big. And because there's a 20th anniversary to celebrate this year, you can only imagine what a flashy, beat-droppin' spectacle it will be.

Ultra 2018 will take over Bayfront Park in downtown Miami Friday, March 23, through Sunday, March 25. The fest will present three days of performances by EDM heavyweights such as David Guetta, Tiësto, Steve Aoki, Armin van Buuren, and the Chainsmokers.

What's the groundwork for all of this? Some damn good stages.

If you've ever been part of the Ultra crowd/mob/human-amoeba or have seen photos of the stages, you know these aren't painted pieces of plywood. They are audiovisual masterpieces with names — Spider, Live Stage, and Megastructure, etc.
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This year's Worldwide Stage will have an art ceco vibe.
The man behind the stages — from vision to fruition — is Ultra creative director Richard Milstein. A native of Curaçao and current Miami resident, he's been an integral part of the Ultra experience for 13 years.

"Our success has been a combination of so many things," Milstein says. "I've been working with great people who have really come together throughout the years... and many of these people are still with us. This thing just keeps getting better, and we push each other to do things even better the following year."

So what's on tap for Ultra's iconic stages this go-round?

The stages have all been in rigorous design phases for the past six or so months and were finalized by Milstein's eight-member production design team. In addition to the Main Stage, which Milstein simply describes as the "most amazing stage imaginable," the festival is shipping its Biscayne Stage in from last year's Burning Man.
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The Megastructure stage is a massive beast and will be the Ultra home to acts like Carl Cox and Joseph Capriati.
Twenty eighteen also marks the first year Milstein has personally designed the Megastructure and the Worldwide Stage.

"As for Megastructure, it will be very different from what we did in the past," he says. "All of the video that we have on the ceiling and how it goes up and down on motors... we will never let that go. As far as the rest of the interior design, we've taken a completely different approach."

The Worldwide Stage will have a local vibe. "It will be an art deco piece there on Biscayne Boulevard," Milstein says. "When people enter the park, that is what they will see. When I do my designs, I put a lot of research into it. And with this, we have truly captured art deco. We're always looking to build on that experience in Miami and throughout the world."

Ultra Music Festival: Friday, March 23, through Sunday, March 25, at Bayfront Park, 301 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami; ultramusicfestival.com. Tickets cost $1,499.95 via ultramusicfestival.com.
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Jesse Scott is a Fort Lauderdale-based contributor for Miami New Times covering culture, food, travel, and entertainment in South Florida and beyond. His work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and his hometown newspaper, the Free Lance-Star, among others.